The Write Technology

People are going nuts during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  Millions of pages of horse shit are being produced, and from the steaming ashes of that mess, a work or two of incredible brilliance just might materialize.  One of the problems people are encountering with the rubbish produced from NaNoWriMo is that it’s a jumbled mess.  I think there are very few people who actually sit and write a book from beginning to end, going from page to page in exactly the order in which the finished piece will be.  This chart I just made up represents the number of people who actually do this:


As you can see, next to no one writes like that, so why are you opening a document and typing, hitting return a bunch of times when you change scenes?  That’s effing stupid, and you need to stop.

There is a lot to be said about distraction-free writing.  If you have trouble staying focused, you should explore some distraction-free writing software where all you can do is enter text, and you can’t see your taskbar to notice that 598 people you don’t really know have commented on your Facebook pictures of your cat’s hairball collection.  Lifehacker did an awesome job polling its readers to find the five best distraction-free writing programs, so I’m not going to even bother compiling them here.  Just check out their post.  Alternatively, you can just write on paper, or in an Alpha Smart so you can’t play Solitaire or get distracted by your tasteful torrent collection.

Once you’ve got some spectacularly terrible word vomit that you want to save for whatever reason, don’t just put it in a document and think you’ll know what filename “ChapterXX” means later on.  What will save your unorganized writing brain is a hierarchy.  You might not ever outline before you start writing, but once you have that junk out in plain sight, you can sort it and have it make sense visually.

Here is some of the best software I’ve found to help you organize your writing.  There are about three shit tons of programs out there aimed at writing. I’ve thrown out all the trashware that tries to actually help you write a novel by asking you questions and forcing you to run through mazes to somehow arrive at story. Writing can’t be forced, so stay away from anything that promises to help you do so, especially if they want money for it.

These are not exhaustive reviews. I just want to let you know what’s out there, and I figure when you see what’s available, you’ll recognize which is the best solution for you.

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The Ugly Necessity of Pre-Dawn Writing

It’s been forever and a day since I updated, and I have no good excuse expect that I started a new job, moved into a new place, and had some other fun stuff shake up my life a bit.  None of this is reason to stop writing, of course.  If anything, I should have kept on it to use the stress and tension as fuel.  The worst part was for me to get back into the habit of writing on a consistent basis.  I would tell myself every day that I would get at least a page done before bed.  More often than not I would end up eating a less than splendid dinner and passing out after an episode of Family Guy.  I know, I know–brain junk-food, but it’s so funny!

The solution to my problem was MorningMonstera sinister beast lurking in a dark corner–no–he was just sitting in the middle of the room,  behemothic and ready to devour me as soon as I gave in to the urge to face it (I think there is some cardinal rule that you must actually see a monster before it eats your  head off).  Every book on writing states that you must set aside a specific time slot for writing and make it holy, and nearly every one of them also says that morning is best–not because the creative juices are flowing  at an ungodly hour, (trust me, you have to hack your creative head with an ice pick to get any crap out of it before the sun comes up) but because it is the only way you get to it before something else comes up and forces you to put it off.

I managed to get my butt in bed by 11:00 last night and thought I was so cleverly tricking my early-morning self into being productive.  Let me say that I am actually somewhat a morning person.  Even if I am traveling and staying out until 3 in the morning, I have trouble sleeping in past 8:00.  Expecting me to be up and functioning before 6:00 AM is absurd though, and when my alarm went off at 5:15, I wanted to travel back in time seven hours so I could kick myself for thinking of this moronic idea.  I hit snooze once, then forced myself up, cussing like an arthritic geriatric as I fumbled to the kitchen and the coffee machine altar.

All that bitching aside, I wrote two pages in an hour.  I know I was cranking out four or five during NaNoWriMo, but I’m happy enough about the progress that I thought I’d brag about it on here for all two of my fans.  Of course, tonight I will have to drug myself silly to get to bed at 10:30 and not be so haggard, but I am determined to make this habit.  I am imposing a deadline that I will not wake up 35 years old and still be an accountant.  I have 8.5 years to do that, and even if I’m just doing two pages a day, that’s 6,200+ pages of horse shit I could have as proof that I tried by then.