With all of the changes that are happening in the world as we dive headfirst in to 2017 I’ve started to inventory my needs as a writer. My name for this project is the MVW or Minimum Viable Writer. This is a play on the idea of a “minimum viable product” that is popular in the culture of tech startups. It’s an idea rooted in the concept of doing as little as needed to launch a product or service.
It seems that my visit to the typewriter shop really did make me think about adding one to my workflow. I spent a few weeks stalking various auctions on eBay, and when I saw a vintage Olivetti Lettera 22 pop up, I decided to pounce. This is one of the best ones that I’ve seen. It’s condition can only be summed up as “hardly used.” One thing in the eBay pictures convinced me it was in superb shape was that it still had the original dust cover.
In Chapter 7 of my book Stop Typing & Start writing, I discuss how to get handwritten text into a digital format. After the actual writing, this can be the next most crucial step because your words aren’t going anywhere until they’re digital. That’s just the internet-connected world we live in now. So until there’s an OCR program that can read my handwriting, the transcription has to be done by either typing or dictation.
Now you know the reason why I’ve been mostly radio silent for the last month or so. I’ve been working on this little thing called a book! Buy or read now on Amazon. Stop Typing & Start Writing: Analog Productivity for Digital Writers is my attempt to slow down our frantic online “content production” pace and bring a touch of civility back to the art of writing. When I first picked up a pen to write fiction it was because everything else wasn’t working.
Somewhat near my house is a used typewriter sales and repair shop. Mesa Typewriter Exchange is a longstanding local business. This past Friday was the first time I ever stopped in. To say that there was a few typewriters on the display would be an understatement. The customer area in front of the counter is overrun with typewriters of every description and vintage. It was reasonably well organized, but it’s also clear he’s quickly running out of room.
I’ve been neglecting this blog lately and I sincerly apologzie to my loyal readers. But I haven’t beem slacking off. Quite the opposite. The short version is that I’ve been doing most of my writing in longhand and staying away from the keyboard. This also means I haven’t had much to share. Mostly it’s just been me and the cat fighting over desk space (she’s pushy and likes to play with my pens).
If you’re a regular reader of this site you know I post a lot about process—the mechanics of getting things done. One recurring theme is the elimination of distractions and focus techniques. My latest adventure in productivity is flipping over the digital table ((╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻) and going back to a true basic: pen & paper. I’ve used a keyboard for so long I forgot about using a pen to write anything longer than a list or short notes.
I’ve been thinking about the role of magic/advanced technology in both Science Fiction and Fantasy writing. In both genres it can define a major aspect of the story world. Or it can be part of the sideshow accompanying the main plot. Either way, to have speculative fiction there needs to be something to speculate about. This usually done by projecting forward (advanced technology) or drawing from legends past (magic), if it gets scary along the way we call it horror.
A few days ago I made mention of how my writing has migrated towards a mobile-first workflow. Three things have made this possible: the Ulysses app, a foldable keyboard, and a wireless flash drive. (PS—I’m not listing the iPad, because everything listed here also works on a iPhone.) SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick I have the 32GB version. This might seem odd to be listed first, but it’s one of those things that makes it possible to connect a wireless-by-nature device like an iPad to a wired world.
After writing about the trouble with RTF export from iOS apps earlier this week, I took some time to do some in depth testing today. The results were not as good as I’d hoped. I found a few major holes in my plan to use Zoho Writer for RTF export. Starting with a story I just sent out, I went through the entire export process of generating a RTF file to submit.