• Tag Archives Scrivener
  • Writers, Writing, and Fetishizing the Process

    I am still–and continually–reading Page Fright, which means I have become more obsessed with the process of writing than usual. It also makes me think of how both writers and non-writers fetishize the process, giving birth to the idea that ‘real writers’ write longhand, or only use typewriters; that ‘real writers’ must have certain conditions met–perfect silence, a particular type of paper, a certain brand of pen or colour of ink. It can lead many budding or potential writers to believe that unless they also adhere to these ideas, they cannot possibly write and will never be ‘real’ writers.

    Yet this fetishizing of the process comes with a grain of truth.

    I’m leery of the idea that a ‘real’ writer must do anything but write, but I also recognize that I have my own process that I find difficult to deviate from. When I write by hand, I could use a ballpoint pen if that’s all that’s available, but I vastly prefer my Sharpie pens because I like felt tip pens and Sharpie has everything I want in a felt tip. I can write in a typical word processor–OpenOffice, say–but I’m only truly comfortable with a Scrivener project where everything is set just so.

    I have my preferred formatting (Times New Roman, 12pt, 1.5x line spacing when drafting; Andalus, 12pt, 1.5x line spacing, printed with a 2″ right margin for editing and rewriting) and my preferred setting (on the bus or train; in a coffee or tea shop, or in a diner; at the front desk at the motel where I work; and always within speaking, texting, or tweeting distance of fellow writers). My Moleskine notebook–where all manner of notes both writerly and practical are written–must be black, and so must the Sharpie pen I write in it with. I edit in green Sharpie pen, and my critique partners get their critiques written in purple and orange Sharpie pen, respectively.

    I have these rituals which surround my writing, but they have all developed as the result of squeezing the most writing time possible out of a very busy schedule. I write longhand at work because it is more practical and edit longhand because it gives me a fresh look at my work; I write and rewrite in Scrivener because the labels and folders help me keep track of where I am in my writing or revisions. I save and compile redundant copies all over the place because I don’t ever want to lose the work I’ve done. Everything I’ve incorporated into my writing process is there for a purpose.

    And that is the most important consideration for any part of the writing process. Writers write; how we accomplish that must be there to help us continue writing, not tie us to conditions we won’t always have the luxury of meeting. So whether you write longhand or exclusively with a computer, and whether you use fountain, felt tip, or ballpoint pens, find a process that works for you and keep on writing.

     

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  • A Kobo, a Dropbox, and a Sharpie Pen

    Since today is Back Up Your Novel Day, I thought I’d share with you how I work backing up my novel into the daily process of writing so that I never forget to do it.

    First and foremost, I use Dropbox as my primary save folder. Anything saved on my computer is automatically backed up, without my even having to think about it. First draft, second, third; it’s all there, and I can access my files remotely if my computer crashes or if I don’t have access to it for whatever reason.

    I also tend to work at least partially in hard-copy, whether it’s writing at work during November or editing and rewriting during the rest of the year. Granted, this is only a partial back-up, but thanks to my printer and any one of my numerous Sharpie Pens I have a hard copy of whatever I’m working on somewhere… even if that particular filing system leaves much to be desired.

    Finally, and as an aid to the writing and editing process, I save an up-to-date version of my novel on my Kobo. I just compile from Scrivener (love you guys so much!) into epub format, save it directly to my device, et voilà! An easy-access quick-reference to everything I’ve written in my novel thus far, and–you guessed it–another back up.

    And that’s just what I do on a daily basis. At semi-regular intervals, I also back up everything I’ve added or changed on my computer, my phone, and my Kobo onto a usb key. I even have copies on there of things I’ve deleted from my other devices for reasons of space or convenience (it’s no fun scrolling through several hundred photos on your phone just to get to the latest one).

    If you’re like me and have backing up your work built into your creative process, good for you! You’re ahead of the game. If not, think of this as a reminder to back up your work, and to think of ways that you can do it more and more often.

    I’ve shared only a few of the ways you can back up your work. What do you use? How do you make sure you won’t lose all your hard work to a computer crash? Share your answers in the comments :)


  • How To Dress For All NaNo’s Eve

    As some of you may know, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, the month where we are challenged to write 50,000 words in 30 days. This will be my third year participating and I’ve come to view October 31 not as Hallowe’en, but as All NaNo’s Eve, a celebration similar to Hallowe’en in that we dress up and eat candy but also stay up so we can begin writing as soon as midnight hits.

    In the spirit of All NaNo’s Eve, I will share with you my costume and how it came into being. This year I went as my all time favourite writing program: Scrivener.

    To begin, open your Scrivener project and select the most visually appealing chapter:

    Then create your scene cards, binder, and meta-data and arrange them on your clothing:

    Binder
    Cork Board
    Meta-Data
    Project Window

    Now you’ll want to create a handy template to help you as you paint the Scrivener logo on your face:

    Put it all together, and you’re ready to head out to your local NaNoWriMo Midnight Kick-Off!

    Once you have returned home from getting a head start on your novel at the kick-off, sigh wistfully as you remove the paint from your face with wet wipes and go to bed so that you may awake refreshed and ready to write once more.

    Also: because writing a novel in a month isn’t crazy enough, I’m doing a blog post a day in the Epic Month of Blog Posts challenge. To see the full list of those who are participating, check out the side bar at Epic Robot Danni.

     


  • April 2011 Read-A-Thon Progress Blog

    6 AM

    *Stumbles blearily out of bed*

    …And a good morning to you too! I’m up, I’m packed, I’m ready to go. On today’s menu is everything from graphic novels to scripture, with stops at fantasy novels and historical essays along the way. Mixed metaphors aside, I’m off like a herd of turtles.

    7:15 AM

    What an adventure! Both in the book and out of it. It’s been a while since I’ve read while walking… good times. En route I read Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan on my phone. Excellent thing about having Kindle on my phone: I can hold it in one hand and turn the pages with my nose.

    8 AM

    Right. Now that I have some tea in me, time for a proper update, yes?

    I made it to Krissa and Blair’s place easy enough. I must have been quite a sight on the bus in my pyjamas and housecoat, lugging books and soup. All the while I was, sometimes literally, nose-deep in Leviathan. I am loving this book! Seriously. Deryn is my favourite, but I really like Alek, too. And the lady boffin, Dr. Barlow. So much fun!

    Now the question is, do I continue with Leviathan or move on to research? Or our latest book club book, The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen? Time will tell.

    9 AM

    So, I kept on with Leviathan after all. Too bloody good to put down! Short update this time, as I’m anxious to get back to it.

    10 AM

    At 68%, I decided to drag myself away from Leviathan for a spot of editing. Editing is reading, so it counts! And it’ll ease me into me real purpose for today, which is research. I brought a lot of books with me, and I don’t want that to be for naught!

    So now I’m fixing the head-hopping POV in the early parts. I hadn’t thought this was a problem for me, but apparently it was.

    11 AM

    All kinds of excitement! We got food, Danni’s here, and all is awesome! I was a little distracted from my reading/editing by a phone call to confirm a meeting time… we both had different ideas of what day I was to show up, so it’s a good thing we got that sorted. Anyway, back to it!

    Noon

    Ok, I lied about jumping into research after editing. I picked up The Surgeon instead, and holy crap! Love the prologue. First chapter? Awesome. Now go away so I can get back to reading it! ;)

    1 PM

    People (Danni) were distracting me from reading The Surgeon, so I switched to research. How does that work? Either way, I’m now reading The Emperor Constantine by Michael Grant. The fact that the author’s first name is the same as my MC’s has nothing to do with the book selection, of course >.>

    Also, Blair apparently has the Force. At least insofar as getting someone to pass him the chip bowl while he’s covered in dogs.

    2 PM

    I’m running into a slight snag with my research. Reading about Constantine in preparation for my Medieval reading works better when the book I chose doesn’t assume I have a background in Roman and Christian history that I don’t have.

    …I think that last sentence was coherent, but I’m really not sure right now. Perhaps book choice is not my only problem with doing research right now. I’m contemplating lightening things up with a graphic novel. Would John Constantine: Hellblazer be too silly a choice?

    3 PM

    I’m remembering now that the first story in this volume wasn’t perhaps my favourite. Still, John Constantine is hurting my brain less than the Emperor Constantine. I’ve been more easily distracted from my reading lately; hopefully this next hour will be more productive, if that’s a word that can be applied to reading comics.

    4 PM

    Late lunch/early supper break. We had the chicken carcass soup I brought to share with folks here, along with the bread I made earlier. Very yummy, if I do say so myself. And now, cookies!

    As far as the reading goes, I did get a more of Constantine read, before getting pulled away for cooking-type duties. Still love this guy. Getting a craving to read his storyline in Sandman, but I left those ones at home (alas!)

    5:15 PM

    Yeah, my hourly update’s a little late, but I wanted to get that chapter of Constantine finished. That bloke’s right messed, but I love it. Definitely not to be confused with the Emperor, though.

    Feeling sleepy. For some reason this inspire me to edit my own stuff again. Apparently for me, editing and fatigue go well together; this won’t be the first time I edit tired. May get some more tea in a bit.

    6 PM

    Bloody hell, is it update time again already? Just as I was getting into the swing of things, too. Chapter 2 is now starting mid-way through what was originally Chapter 2, before I cut the beginning and turned it into Chapter 1. See, this is why I’m using Scrivener and not numbering my chapters until the end!

    In other news, Danni is making the rest of us look bad by having already read an entire book since she got here, and she’s not even officially participating, besides.

    7 PM

    Still editing. Only have a few kinks to work out of the early bit; I’m impressed! Well, only a few that I know of so far. Who knows what will happen in later passes.

    Contemplating switching to Agatha H and the Airship City by Phil & Kaja Foglio, even if only to justify having talked like a Jägermonster most of today. My condition will probably worsen from this, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

    8 PM

    No Jägermonsters in this chapter. I’m disappointed.

    In other news, I’m apparently doing one of these Read-A-Thon challenges, making a sentence out of book titles. And so I give you The Devil’s Hatband Sparkles Hotter Than Hell. Enjoy!

    9 PM

    What coherency and/or sanity I may have had has gone out the window. It’s entirely possible I was singing Yellow Submarine to myself with a Jägermonster accent. And now I’m giggling over the three tenses of ‘having’ in a row there.

    That my brain cannot grasp the subtleties of prose in a steampunk adventure novel worries me. I’m going back to comics for a while…

    10 PM

    John Constantine’s got my head back on track. Reading The Surgeon again. Back later.

    11 PM

    As I just said on Twitter, editing is reading, damn it!

    Ahem. Anyway. So I was reading The Surgeon, and it made me want to write. So I did some editing, and found that my character’s Spock phase started earlier that I remembered. You know, that one where they all express emotions by raising their eyebrows? Yeah, that one.

    Midnight

    I missed watching the date tic over on my watch. Disappointing. In about an hour it’ll start telling me it’s ‘Samedi’ until about ten to three, when it will admit that it’s Sunday.

    In other news, The Surgeon is still being awesome. I like that. Still wanting to intersperse said reading with editing, but doubting the wisdom of that. Either way, good times!

    1 AM

    After a certain amount of arguing to no one in particular that editing is reading, and getting distracted by Twitter, I got back to reading my comics. Getting back to reading them again. Yay, Constantine! :D

    2 AM

    Still alive, and still reading! Yes, more Constantine. Rereading this, I’m noticing shards of the story that have burrowed through my brain and into my own book in new and dazzling forms. Brilliant is what it is.

    It’s just Blair and I left now. Everything’s quiet, peaceful. Just reading.

    3 AM

    You can always tell when Todd Klein’s the letterer. Beautiful work. The fact that I set out to do a whole lot of research during this thing but instead spent a good deal of time reading comics amuses me more than anything, really. Nothing wrong with that of course; I read quality comics.

    Watched my watch tic over to Sunday. It occurs to me that I am way too aware of the precise moments when the day and date change on my watch. It looks like I’m the last man standing here. Even the dogs are sleeping.

    4 AM

    Hullo! Other people are awake again. Got a bit more Constantine in, of course, and some more editing (which is totally reading!) but had to stop when I ran up against some potential POV issues that I don’t think I can wrangle just now. Returning to The Surgeon, because writing and writing-related activities always make me want to read something awesome.

    5 AM

    There was going to be something terribly interesting that I was planning to write for this post, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was.

    Quite frankly, I’m surprised it took me this long to get to this point.

    Long story short, yes, I’m still awake. Reading… has been happening to some extent.

    6 AM

    Oh! Now I remember what I was going to say at 5 AM! I find it interesting that part way through I  switched from ‘graphic novels’ to ‘comics’. Still not 100% on the difference, but that doesn’t keep me from reading them!

    Ending things today with a bit from Ezekiel. And really, outside of Twitter, that’s the only thing I’ve read for this past hour. This has been a wonderful and surreal time, folks! After this, I’m off to sing hymns.

    Seriously. I’m in the choir.