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Inspiration: A Long Wait for a Train Don’t Come

It’s 11:40 a.m. I’ve been up since 8:30. Working on my second cup of Earl Grey, waiting for inspiration to give me an idea to write about.

Just kidding. I never wait for inspiration. It never comes.

What works for me every time without fail is really quite mundane: I fire up my laptop, iPhone, or iPad and start writing. I usually have no idea what I’m going to write, but I start anyway.

Sometimes I will have had an idea come to me just as I was falling asleep the night before. And sometimes that idea is so important that I’ll get up and write it down so I can follow up on it the next day.

But most of the time, I just start writing. I don’t wait for an idea but simply start putting pen to paper (but only metaphorically: in my case, it’s pixels to screen).

Like so many other writers, I have a slew of bad habits: I drink, I smoke, and I swear a lot. Far more than I should.

But my drink of choice is tea, and my smoking is limited to a few puffs an hour from the e-cig that I used to get off cigarettes.

Maybe once every other week I’ll have a shot of tequila at our Friday night gathering, or a single glass of wine. But that’s it as far as alcohol goes.

It’s all about habits

Or routines: by developing the habit of writing every morning and incorporating it into my daily routine, I’ve forced myself to write whether or not I want to.

Like a drug habit, the more I do it the more I need to do it. I’m addicted to something I first took up as therapy. But unlike a drug habit, it won’t kill me. And as Nietzsche famously said (or would have, if he had been wise enough), “That which doesn’t kill me gives me a whole lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms and a very dark sense of humor.”

To which I would add, “That which doesn’t kill me had better run pretty damned fast!”

So as Paul Kantner once sang, “So drop your fucking bombs, burn your demon babies. I will be alive!”

Inspiration my ass. I’m gonna write something.

 

E-readers vs. Printed Books

Yes, Virginia, there is a difference

Make no mistake: I love my E-readers. All three of them. I have an iPhone, an iPad, and an Amazon Fire Tablet.Between them I have a library of over 3,000 books. I devour books the way children devour ice cream and cake at birthday parties.But my living space?—and therefore my storage space?—is limited to a single room. Ergo, E-books and E-readers.

Vive le différence?

But lately I’ve discovered a problem, and it has to do with the differences between reading a printed book and an E-book.

When I’m reading a printed book, I can spend hours in my comfortable chair, only stirring to brew a fresh cup of tea or, as a result thereof, heading into the loo to download the same.

I love the smell of printed pages. I love the feel. And I especially love the ability to leaf back to earlier pages to see if I missed something.

But…

I also love being able to carry my entire library in my purse. I love being able to conduct research whilst riding on the bus. And I love being able to finally finish my latest who-done-it sitting in the waiting area of my doctor’s office.

But but but…

Lately I’m finding that reading a mystery, a science text, or any kind of book at all on my iPhone gives me headaches.

My iPod is better, but here’s the really big thing: it’s exhausting to read my E-books. Where I can tear through five or six chapters of the printed page, I can barely get through a half of a chapter of an E-book.

And that’s strange, because I always adjust the text size on my E-readers so that it’s larger than it is on the printed page.

Does it have something to do with the fact that the printed word is reflected into my eyes, while E-text is beamed into them? But even that is questionable: I have no problem bingeing on Netflix for hours at a time.

And I can spend more than half a chapter’s worth of time composing a story for Medium on my iPhone.

It’s a mystery

One that may well fall under the rubric of religion: “There are some mysteries man was not meant to solve.”

But like young Jim Hawkins, I won’t rest until I’ve found the secret treasure. Perhaps then the mystery may be resolved.


NOTE: I’m sure there’s already a scientific or medical answer that I can easily find. But when have any of us let facts get in the way of a good story?

Originally published on Medium.com

It’s That Time Again!

nanowrimo

Autumn is upon us, and most serious writers know what that means: It’s time for NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month.

If you haven’t heard of it, it begins in November every year. The goal is to write a novel (at least 50,000 words) in a single month. But don’t wait until November: sign up now to start getting tips, hints, and ideas before then.

It’s ironic that it’s called National Novel Writing Month, since it’s open to people all over the world.

This is my third year for NaNoWriMo, and this time I’m determined to complete a novel—something I’ve yet to do.

That’s the thing about the program: it encourages you to write, but doesn’t nag you about it. And if you don’t complete your book in the time allotted for it, nobody’s going to call you out on it. Some people—like me—take longer to write their stories. But even if you can’t complete it, at least you’ve made a start, and you can continue long after the challenge is over.

If you do finish your novel—either during the month or after—you’ll have the satisfaction that you’ve written a book!  It might not be the next Great American Novel, but at least you wrote it.

And that’s more than most people do.

Is This The Ultimate Writing App for iOS?

Ulysses. Ancient Greek adventurer and explorer. Legendary traveler. And now, a writing app for the Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

I discovered Ulysses whilst searching for a new blogging and writing tool. I had several requirements that any system or app had to satisfy:

  1. It had to be reasonably priced
  2. It had to have a clean interface
  3. It had to have a free trial period
  4. It had to be compatible with the apps already in my existing Writer’s toolbox
  5. It had to allow me to sync between my iPad and iPhone.
  6. If possible, I would like it to sync with my windows laptop.

Price

At $4.99 a month or $39.99 annually, it definitely is reasonably priced. That took care of the first requirement. It also comes with a free 14-day trial period, thus fulfilling number 3.

So far, I’ve not found any conflict with my existing tools. That was number 4 on my list.

Syncing

As far as syncing between my iPhone and iPad, I originally installed and configured it on my iPad. When I installed it on the iPhone and launched it for the first time, it was already synced with the iPad. Since my documents were set to store in iCloud, what I had written on the iPad was already available on the iPhone.

And syncing was almost instantaneous: I started this document on the iPad, edited it on the iPhone, and when I moved back to the iPad, all of the new changes were there!

As far as syncing to my laptop, I haven’t tried it yet. But since I can export documents in MS Word docx format, I don’t foresee any problems.

The Interface

Finally, the interface. It doesn’t get much cleaner than this:

One of the reasons for the clean interface is the fact that Ulysses uses markdown language for all of its formatting. There are only 25 commands to memorize, but if you’re lazy like me, there’s also a pop-up menu to give you access to all of them.

Of course, as I use the program, I’ll become used to and will learn the language.

Exporting

When I’m ready to publish, Ulysses will export my WordPress posts directly to WordPress. It’s an easy enough setup, and you can configure the program for multiple blogs.

My New Default Editor

Ulysses has replaced Scrivener as my default text editor. I still use Scrivener to archive my writings, but Ulysses is much easier to use.

Find it here. You get a free two-week evaluation period before you have to buy it.

Why I Write at Medium, and Why You Should, Too

Are you writer? Do you spend hours alone in your room, staring at the walls until 3 a.m. when you finally are exhausted enough to sit down and let the words come without you getting in the way? Do you look at what few friends you have and think, “She’d make a great character for my book”?

I'm writing a novel

Is this you?

Becoming a Better Writer

One way to improve your writing is by joining a local writers’ group or workshop. But what if you’re a shut-in, or (like me) don’t have reliable transportation to get you there?

Another way is by reading a lot. At least, that’s what most of the successful big-name authors say—and who am I to argue with them? But getting to the library, for example, can be hampered by the two instances I listed above.

Another drawback to reading a lot can be money, or, more specifically, the lack thereof.

Enter Medium

Medium “is an online publishing platform developed by Evan Williams, and launched in August 2012. It is owned by A Medium Corporation.[3] The platform is an example of social journalism, having a hybrid collection of amateur and professional people and publications, or exclusive blogs or publishers on Medium, and is regularly regarded as a blog host.” (Wikipedia)

In Plain English, Please

Think of Medium as a Facebook for writers—minus the trolls, divisiveness, and advertisements. But even that doesn’t to begin to cover what makes Medium such a great platform. Remember what I said about joining a local writers’ group? Medium is that very group on steroids: it’s an international writers’ group.

You can connect with other writers by interests, topics, location—either publicly or privately (which I still have to figure out).

For me, Medium is first and foremost a source of different writings (Medium calls them stories). They’re fresh, topical, and can include everything rom the latest abstruse scholarly article to fiction to poetry to you name it. But best of all—at least to me—is that I can post a story and know that people will respond on it politely and with thought.

Plus I get some great fiction, too!

Medium

If you don’t have it and consider yourself a writer, go get it! Right now!!!