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…]
So just because I’m hiding in the attic doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on anything.
One unsurprising thing is that I’m working on a novel (while shopping around another novel).
But the surprising thing is that, even though I struggle with communicating with humans, I just released a neurotic app that’s all about communicating with humans… by sending them goofy, animated stickers. If you’re one of the seven people tracking my trajectory, you’ll know that three years ago I released a free Messages sticker pack called Neurotic Stix. For reasons outside of my control, it did pretty well. And today (or maybe yesterday), I’m releasing Neurotic Stix Pro, which is a fully-fleshed-out app that lets you write your own captions on animated stickers. You just don’t know what it’s like to apologize to someone properly until you’ve tried to apologize with a poorly-drawn-poorly-animated sticker using your own pathetic words! You can send them from the included Messages sticker pack, or even share them from the app to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, email or however you prefer to apologize to people. The neurotic possibilities are endless! 😱🌪
Oh. Also. For one of the few times in my creative career, I’m not giving this thing I made away for free. Well, it’s free to try out. And then if you want to make more than two custom stickers, you’ll have to readjust your lifestyle to afford the one-time fee of $1.99 USD. I don’t expect to make much money off this thing. But I spent many hours, at night, between the day job, the family life, the novel writing, the migraines, and the worrying… to build this thing from scratch. And so I thought I’d experiment with actually charging for it. I’ll report back on whether this plan fails, or if it really fails. I hope you like it enough to try it out, and even better if you’re willing to pay less than 1/10 trillionth of the U.S. national debt to help me out.
For more information about this so-called app, check out the app home page, which has more details. Here are some of the stickers you can create and share:
Feel free to send me feedback about the app, or also, let me know if you want me to report back on what the whole experience has been like to create and publish an app.
Get the app on the iOS App Store.
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…
tl;dr: I mistakenly made an app. It’s free. If you use an iPad or iPhone for writing and you like having the device read what you write, get it. (p.s. It requires
Each morning, you’re probably waking up thinking, “Where the hell did Yuvi go?” I’ve got a whole pile of reasons and excuses — some real, some imagined — but instead of listing those here, I just want to tell you that I haven’t totally disappeared off the planet. For example, I just released a FREE app to help with the writing process…
I’m obsessed with having the computer read what I write. What I love about the computer voice is that it doesn’t give a damn what you meant to write — it only knows what you actually wrote. The problem is that I couldn’t find the right tool to do this on iPad and iPhone. I mean, there is a built-in way to speak text, but it doesn’t quite cut it… I’d like a clear way to play and pause and change the voice. And I’d like a way to do it exclusively with an external keyboard on an iPad. Drag and drop would be nice too. There are some really good fancy apps, like Voice Dream, which I use for some stuff. But that app is a little more complicated and elaborate. I wanted something dumb and lightweight, but still powerful enough to do what I needed. So I mistakenly made the app I wanted.
It’s called Say the Thing. It plays whatever text you throw at it. Here is the three-minute tutorial:
Want it? Then get it for free before the developer disappears off the planet again.
At some point, I’ll give a more elaborate online update on where I’ve been the past few years. But not quite yet.
So that’s my story. How are you?
Link to the product web page: http://saythething.xyz
NOTE: This blog post was reluctantly proofread by Say the Thing.
NOTE 2: …And even more reluctantly by my wife.
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.
OK. That part about the limited supply is a lie. But the free part is true. For now.
Let me sum up: I released an app called Neurotic Stix for iOS (iPhones and iPads). This app is a set of iMessage stickers that you can send to your friends (or enemies). Have you messed around with stickers yet? If you’ve updated to the latest (free) version of iOS, you have a super-powered (but overly confusing) way to send and receive many cool visuals beyond just text messages. If you want to see a tutorial about downloading and using stickers, here’s a good one from the MacRumors team.
And so… I made my own twitchy, animated, neurotic stickers to express how you feel when you’re not feeling so good about yourself. If you have to apologize and criticize yourself, you might as well do it with clever-ish stickers… Now you can join 50,000 other slightly tolerant iOS users who have already downloaded my app. Just go to the iOS App Store.
My favorite five star review so far is this one:
Anyway, the stickers are free for now, but I might charge a whopping 99 cents once my 14 seconds of fame have passed and nobody cares anymore. That way, I’ll be able to mope around thinking about the lost opportunity.
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.
As is my tendency, let me start out with the bad: the new iPhone 6 Plus is big and awkward and confusing to get around with. Living with this thing is weird and requires me to walk around in shame with a dreaded man purse. Even so, I am keeping this damn thing. It is the best mobile device I’ve ever used for writing.
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.