Decided to start doing posts every once in a while about the writing process. Basically, things I learn while trying to write about 500 words on my novel every day, how things are going, what I discover, insights, and most likely blubbering about how hard it is.
Today was a good day for me. I’ve been putting off working on my Novel, “Jonah and the Typewriter,” for a long time. It’s a Young Adult fantasy that has been in my mind in some form or another for years, and the current iteration is very different from how it started. It used to be an adult fiction book about dealing with death, but now it’s about brotherhood, and a mythologized Oklahoma. Kind of a 180, but it happens.
This all started when I connected two short stories I had written as a past and present to a particular character, Jonah. I’ve already gone through two drafts of the novel, one abandoned and the other slightly incomplete at about 240 pages. This draft, however, has been the hardest for me to keep going with. As different as it is, it is somewhat sad to go back and rewrite what I had originally intended for a different purpose.
I also have the tendency to let other projects “get in the way,” which means starting a new project so I can keep that excitement of discovery in my work. That said, I’m about to break through to the side of this draft that is new to me, one that I have ideas for, but is very uncharted territory. It’s been difficult and exciting trying to build a new world, and I’m almost at the point in the story (about mid-chapter 3) where that other world, or as Tolkien would call it, “faerie,” becomes the focal point.
This is where I get to write about dragons, flying ships, talking animals, and adventure. I’m very excited.
I’m also working on a script, but more on that next time.
What I really want to talk about is writing software. Some use it, some don’t. Although some writers still hold out on use of Typewriters, some even handwriting their manuscripts (although those will eventually be typed), most writing will always go through some sort of word processor these days. Until a year or so ago, I had always used Microsoft word. However, there are some great alternatives out there that are so much better and provide a different, more cohesive experience.
For organizational purposes, I use the program Scrivener. It may seem a little pricey at 45 dollars, there is a student discount, and once you open up this little program it’s a whole new world. It’s great for long documents, and lets you organize your work into manageable chunks, get character sketches written out, research, settings, and pretty much anything else you can think of in an easy to use and organized format. What’s fantastic for a multi-genre writer like me is the option to write in many different forms. There are fantastic templates for Novels and more traditional writing, but also for screenwriting and teleplays of many kinds. It makes your life so much easier when the formatting is programmed in to the word processor.
However, I find that when I’m writing a novel, I don’t particularly like using Scrivener. Now this isn’t to say I don’t use it FOR my novel, because it is wonderful for that. I mean to say, that the act of writing, that fugue state one enters when they begin the process, is not as enjoyable for me in Scrivener because there are distractions in place. It’s great if I want to be able to refer to other sections of the novel in an easy and searchable way, like in the editing process, but when I’m writing something for the first time, I like to be as autonomous as possible. I used to use “Write or Die,” a program that punishes you for not writing with bad music, annoying noises, or even erasing words you’ve already written. This worked just fine, and I love the program, but most of the time I want writing to be a calmer, more immersive experience. I want to let my mind imagine freely. I have a little trouble with this because I am easily distractable. I daydream about my stories and plan them just fine, but when I have to combine that with the physical act of writing, it is hard for me to concentrate. Write or Die helped with this, but made writing a mad dash, and not really all that enjoyable. It was more of an endurance run.
Luckily, today I discovered “Ommwriter Dana II,” a processor with a long name, but fantastic features for getting me going. It’s a very light word processor with minimal but very useful features. They have calm and meditative down to a science. The program fills your screen with a warm, calming set of images you can switch between, changes the noise typing words makes (which is much more satisfying than you would think), and plays a set of very meditative and calming music. With a good pair of headphones, the rest of the world just melts away and I feel focused. It’s the most fantastic word processor I’ve ever used, at least for that purpose. For someone with concentration issues, it is amazing. It makes writing all that much more enjoyable for me. I’ve always felt a little separated from my writing while sitting at a computer. I can immerse myself in it fully when I am just daydreaming, but I feel as if I am finally one of those writers who can just dive into their world, at least using a keyboard.
Wordcount for today: 1118