In a blog post about my forthcoming novel, I claimed that I’d pull together a video about writing the novel. Well, here it is. It’s under five minutes, but it still required 1060 bad drawings, some background music that I created on my iPad, and one video of me sitting on the toilet. Oy![Read more…]
For the past few years, I’ve wanted to make a video about my writing process when I’m working on a book-sized project. My process is a zig-zaggy combination of scribbling and typing and listening. I particularly love writing on an iPad because you have a few different ways to interact with it (stylus + keyboard + voice + weeping under the desk), and I also find it a less distracting tool than an old-school computer. The problem with my first few fAiLeD attempts at making this video was that I overly focused on exactly what tech and which apps I used… It’s just too easy to get caught up in buying the trendy app of the month with the hopes that it’ll save you from the difficulty of writing. (Nothing will save you. Writing sucks!) And my main goal was really to focus on how and why I use the tools that I use. (But I also didn’t want to totally ignore the apps that I find valuable, because they are lovingly built and they are fabulous to use.) So… hopefully this short video gives you a feel for my approach without getting too lost in the technical weeds… (Below the video you’ll find more of the gory details.)
If you want more details about the apps, here are the apps that I use:
- GoodNotes. This is my current favorite scribbling tool. Simple and clean and feels so natural to use. Lovingly built and regularly updated.
- Notability. I also dig this app and often switch back and forth between this app and GoodNotes. This app is also built with such care and I honestly can’t tell you that one is better than the other. Try them both if you like.
- Ulysses. This is my current favorite writing tool. Looks beautiful and really powerful for organizing a book. I used to evangelize Scrivener and I still really love that app, but I like the simplicity and cleanliness of Ulysses a little better. And Ulysses is still plenty powerful — with nested folders and keywords and export, it does everything I need it to do. Works just as well on iPad as on Mac.
- Scrivener. I still have tremendous affection for this tool and it can do so much to help you organize your book.
- Say the Thing. A pretty dumb text-to-speech tool that I WROTE MYSELF! The reason I wrote it is because I wanted a lightweight app that will take whatever text you throw at it. You can copy/paste text, drag/drop text, or use the share command from most text editors. Is it amazing? No. Is it pretty good? Maybe. Is it free? Yes.
And since I was a little too quick and confusing about my specific process in the video, here it is for those who care:
- First draft, I scribble in my scribbling tool. Write by hand without thinking too hard about what I’m up to.
- Then I type it up in my writing tool. I do a little bit more organizing and thinking about it in this step. I keep the scribbling app and the typing app side-by-side as I type it up. I do not use any mechanism to automatically convert my writing into text. I know there are tools that do this, but I prefer to type it up manually so I can think about what I’m typing, and clean it up as I go along.
- Then I listen to the computer read it to me. Something about having a computer read your words exposes some of the bullshit in the writing. I use my own app (Say the Thing) side-by-side with my writing tool.
- Then I type up any edits after listening to it.
- Then I make a PDF copy of the writing (export as PDF from Ulysses) and import it back into my scribbling tool. The formality of a PDF helps me look at it like an editor.
- I read the PDF to my writing group and listen to feedback.
- Based on the feedback, I scribble notes and edits on the PDF within my scribbling tool. Sometimes I’ll even draw diagrams and flow charts as I think through the structure of my story.
- Then I type up any changes or edits.
- Then I listen to the computer read it again.
- I type up edits again.
- Repeat any of the above steps until done.
I know that this whole process doesn’t discuss how to actually structure a story. That part is at least as important as this process I’ve outlined here. But I feel like every writer and every story has its own unique way to tackle the issue of structure. Sometimes I think about structure very early in the writing process, sometimes I focus on it later. Sometimes it involves pictures and diagrams, sometimes it involves lots of lists and outlines. Maybe someday I’ll do a video on how this has worked for me for a particular story.
OK. That’s all for now. Hope this is helpful. Or at least not harmful…
It’s time for my yearly visit to the online surface – where I pop my head up, look around, and when I don’t get enough likes (or I get too many likes), I go back into my hole until next year. This time I’d like to share with you a video I made about how I write alongside chronic pain. (If you don’t already know that I’ve been dealing with chronic headaches, then check out this other video – in my head.) I’ve learned some things about how to keep at it even when burdened with a kind of pain that sticks around for longer than a short visit, that comes and goes on its own schedule, and that, on some weeks, doesn’t give you a single breath without its company. I don’t want to claim to be an expert at this. What I can say is that I’ve learned how to fumble my way through the darkness in a way that feels better than giving up completely. I’ve managed to write a novel in two years, alongside a few other projects. Balzac might not be impressed with my output, but my lazy cats think I’m quite productive. And I’m okay with this. But don’t just listen to blog-post-me, listen to YouTube-me who tries to explain all this using Play-Doh:
To those suffering with chronic pain as well, my heart goes out to you. I hope you find a few moments of peace in there.
(This post originally appeared on Writer Unboxed.)
I don’t really recommend it, but you can check out all my videos on my YouTube channel.
I don’t know about you but in the middle of all the heavy stuff going on in the world, I’ve needed to make a little time and space just to escape. I’m reading and watching more fantasy and sci-fi. But my obsession this month is all about a video game: Breath of the Wild. I haven’t been a gamer in about 30 years (!!!) but I got hooked into this world. So much so that I now have trouble telling anecdotes in real life without mentioning my exploration in the land of Hyrule. To rationalize all the time that I’ve wasted this month, I made a video about my obsession with this game…
I don’t really recommend it, but you can check out all my videos on my YouTube channel.
Who wants to watch a ten-minute video about chronic pain and headaches!? Of course you do!
In this latest video, I walk you through the experience of having a nine-month headache… I’ve been a little bit obsessed with trying to think about (and talk about) the suffering associated with chronic pain. And so I made this delightful romp into my headache saga. I actually do intend it to be entertaining to watch, regardless of whether you can relate – at the very least, it’ll be easier to digest than a presidential debate.
This video will also be used as a quasi-valid excuse for why I haven’t responded much on social media, or gone to many social events, or been productive at my creative projects in 2015, or for how I failed in all the other ways. Enjoy!
Check out all my videos on my YouTube channel.
So I made this short video called “Why Scrivener?”
Why the hell did I make it?… I’ve been tutoring people on how to use Scrivener for many years now. I find that it is effective to first show people what it can do and make sure that it addresses something they are struggling with. As much as I love Scrivener, it’s not the right tool for every writer or for every writing project. I run through this shpiel enough times in an average month that I thought I’d make a short video where I make the case for Scrivener (and get to say some dirty words in the process). Let me know what you think!
Info Related to Scrivener
- Literature & Latte’s home page
- Official Video Tutorials
- To go through Scrivener’s interactive tutorial, launch Scrivener and from the menu, select “Help > Interactive Tutorial”. It’s a good tutorial.
- To see Scrivener’s help manual, launch Scrivener and from the menu, select “Help > Scrivener Manual”.
- To view my (relatively out of date) one-hour tutorial on Scrivener, check out Scrivener from my POV.
- Literature & Latte’s support page
Check out all my second-rate videos on my video landing page.
Here’s a video about my attic, which is where I do most of my creative(ish) work. I hope you’ll agree with me (and not with my misguided wife!) that I have a real system to how I do things around here. I mean, it’s not so messy. Right? Right???
Want to see all my damn videos? Check them out here.
In this Failed Writer video, I talk about how I chip away at my creative projects. I’m definitely no model for success — every week I consider dumping my novel — but I still manage to keep doing creative projects every week. So here is my tactic, sort of.
By the way, I’m use the Clear app for my creative list making. Check it out.
Want to see all my Failed Writer videos? Check them out here.
I’ve been obsessed with stand-up comedians lately… and what writers can learn from comedians about finding their voice. Or something like that. Just watch the video and tell me if you think I’m crazy.
For more info about the comedian Curtis Cook, check out his blog.