December 1, 2014

Use the tools you have

You’re reading this, so I’m assuming you have a device of some sort. The statistics tells me it’s a smartphone, possibly a tablet, but it might just as well be the crappy library PC. It matters little, you can read this site, access the web as it were, and that’s where all your excuses end.

If you can do all that, then you can write.

It’s so very easy to find excuses not to write. I don’t feel like it, I’m not inspired today, I can’t write here, my computer’s old and slow, it’s too noisy, I’ll write when I’ve saved up for a new Macbook, I’m out of whisky… All those things might be true for you, but they’re not actual hurdles. You’re the one who needs to sit down and write. A new Mac won’t make you a better writer, nor will that distraction free writing artifact you’ve been reading so much about. In the end, you’re the writer, and all those things are just tools. If you lack them, find a pen and some paper. That works too, it’s been proven. And no, you don’t need a Moleskine notebook and a fancy pen to write, anything with a blank papery surface will do.

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November 19, 2014

Yuvi Zalkow’s writing machine

I’m still not quite ready to write about iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but Yuvi Zalkov is, and he prefers the larger model.

I love this thing. I find it so worth the size and the price. But I don’t think it is for everyone. There are 5.5 inches of tradeoffs to consider. For many people, it is just too big. But I want a mobile writing machine – badly.

I always want to be carrying around my crappy writing projects. And to be able to write more crap whenever I want. And for that purpose, hot damn this thing is amazing.

November 12, 2014

Top view of the iPad 2 and the 11" MacBook Air
Tablet writing setups are not about the angles

It’s important that your writing position is ergonomic, putting low stress on your body. Writers are well known for not paying enough attention to this, thus experiencing more pain than necessary. One of the complaints about tablet-centric setups is the angle downward, towards the screen, and how this is bad for you. This is all true, but it’s not a tablet-specific problem. In fact, just about every laptop has this problem.

Take the 11″ MacBook Air, as close to the perfect writing laptop you can get. It’s got a nice full-sized keyboard, a decent enough screen (although it doesn’t do it for me these days since it’s not retina – yet), and it’s very portable.

Then take the iPad Air 2 (or any full-sized iPad, the mini changes things a bit), a decent stand such as Twelve South’s Compass 2, and connect it to your bluetooth keyboard of choice. Let’s go with Apple’s wireless one since that’s almost identical with MacBook keyboards.

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  • Ashen Sky - A Novella

    Life is hard for Dirk, who’s stumbling through the wasteland. Out here, far from his family, Dirk makes acquaintances that lead him upon a path he didn’t know he yearned for.

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November 8, 2014

Fantasy doubt

Sam Sykes, writing at Chuck Wendig’s digital house of horrible horrors:

What was the first fantasy book you got hooked on?

Go ahead. Think back on it. I’ll wait.

I see your fingers hovering over the keyboard, trembling like they did the first time you ever touched a high school crush. They’re probably all sweaty, too. Gross, but understandable, because I bet each and every one of you had a thought that you might be embarrassed by what you’re about to type.

Maybe you were about to type The Belgariad by David Eddings. Maybe you were about to type Legend by David Gemmell. Maybe you were about to type Dragons of Spring Dawning by Weis & Hickman.

And just maybe you were a little bit embarrassed by it.

Pop over and read it all, I’ll wait.

Nice piece, isn’t it? Frequent readers’ll no doubt nod their heads, since I totally agree with Sam here. I wrote my fantasy confession in January, and I’m still struggling. I’m also writing a fantasy novel, so there’s that.

October 31, 2014

Writing on a K480
NaNoWriMo 2014

November is, as usual, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. The concept is simple: Write a novel in a month. Or part of one, whatever’s your goal. I guess “beating” NaNoWriMo means that you wrote a novel during the month of November, but there’s a big difference between 60,000 words and 240,000 words, in case you hadn’t noticed.

It matters little, because NaNoWriMo brings writers, prospective ones in particular, together. There’s cheering and helpful pats on the back, because everyone’s suffering. Some are giving this organized and disciplined novel writing thing a go for the first time, and they realize how hard it is. Others are seasoned, with several drafts or even published books behind them, and they know how hard it is.

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October 30, 2014

Hemingwrite, red
The Hemingwrite

One of the most searched upon posts here on is my e-ink typewriter piece. There are people visiting it every day, which speaks volumes about what weird creatures writers are. Yes, I think they’re writers, who else would find use of a typewriter in this day and age?

These people would probably like the Hemingwrite, a typewriter for the, well, I’m not sure what century. First things first: This is a prototype, you can’t buy it. The images seen in this post are renders, aside from the one where the prototype’s actually being used. Despite this, and the lack of the inevitable Kickstarter campaign, the tech press has been all over the Hemingwrite.

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October 19, 2014

Handwriting requires exercise

Quartz has a piece with tips on handwriting, where exercising your hand and lower arm is mentioned:

Typing doesn’t build the hand and finger strength necessary to hand-write for long periods, Blain points out. Squeezing a stress ball can help with that. So can stretching out your writing hand to avoid arm injuries. An 80,000 word hand-writing binge last November landed Blain at a physical therapist for an elbow injury, because she hadn’t stretched out her arms or taken enough breaks.

Useful advice if you’ve a mind to write a longer piece, a book perhaps, by hand.

October 9, 2014

Maze Puzzle, by FutUndBeidl (CC)
Outlining methods

I’ve written about outlining before, but I’ve left out how I do my outlining. While the basic premises are the same no matter what, and the whole there are no rules thing still stands, I do have some thoughts to share on the matter.

For me, outlining is help along the way, something that keeps me focused on the task at hand. It’s the guiding light that makes sure I don’t delve into some dark cave where brain fungus live, forcing me to tell you about the time I found an enchanted ring of cheese, which of course was a metaphor for the Moon High And Bright, and… Yeah. Outlining’s a good idea no matter how you do it.

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October 4, 2014

Ian Fleming on writing thrillers

Ian Fleming, in an essay on writing thrillers, published in 1963:

We thus come to the final and supreme hurdle in the writing of a thriller. You must know thrilling things before you can write about them. Imagination alone isn’t enough, but stories you hear from friends or read in the papers can be built up by a fertile imagination and a certain amount of research and documentation into incidents that will also ring true in fiction.

The whole thing is worth a read.

A bit of self-promotion follows. If you need more inspiration and helpful emails to reach your writing goals (you have goals, right?), do request a beta to BlankPage, an online writing app I’m a part of. Ping me on Twitter and I’ll fast-track your beta invite.

July 10, 2014

I promise, the text on the Alphasmart NEO's LCD screen is actually readable
My Screens

Screens are interesting. I’ve got a lot of screens that I interact with. It’s obviously the actual device behind the screen that makes a difference, but I’s still fascinated by screens.

I’ve got a HDTV (several, in fact). I watch and play stuff on it, but other than that it’s not much of an interaction.

There’s the retina MacBook Pro too. This screen is gorgeous, a truly impressive piece of technology right there. Having switched to retina iOS devices a long time ago, I now have a hard time using an operating system on a non-retina screen, or equivalent. I love the retina MacBook Pro screen, and I can’t wait to see it on other devices.

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