Crowdsourcing and Alternate Pursuits

I’m writing this rather late, and I am afraid it may be short, as well. I’d apologize, but the projects at hand yesterday were lengthy and pressing. Besides, they gave me the idea for this post.

Yesterday I spent from about 9 am to 5:30 pm at school. The last four hours of that was a lab, during which I processed samples in triplicate, and then ran 15 titrations to gather the needed data for a standard and sample data. It was sort of fun. We’re not a large class, at this level of chemistry and at the branch  campus I attend. A total of nine of us in the lab, working hard and amazingly not tripping over anyone. Only one piece of broken glass yesterday! Because a lot of what we’re doing is hurry-up-and-wait, we chat. One of my classmates is a gunsmith, and another is a gun nut, so yesterday I got a lead on the First Reader’s Christmas present – I want to get him a Mosin Nagant. I get a charge out of the younger classmates I have, and despite the lengthy day, came home happy and ready to take on the next task.

But that’s irrelevant to writing.. or is it? Because after arriving home later than usual, I still had math to tackle. I’d asked a friend to help, and in the process of working through problems I posted a picture of a problem to my open timeline on facebook (even if you aren’t logged it you should be able to follow the link, it’s public) which led to help, hilarity, and a revelation to me. This isn’t the first time I’ve crowd sourced for school, or writing for that matter. In the acknowledgments and thanks for Dragon Noir, I tell not only Larry Correia, but the whole MHI forum, many thanks for their help. Larry let me ask questions in his sandbox, and the forum members (MHI Group here) gave me all sorts of, ahem, interesting scenarios. Which culminated in my writing a scene where a pixie goes bowling for ogres with a logging truck. Really, all I’d wanted was a lead on a weapon a small being could logically handle. What I got was more. Working with the right kinds of people can actually help prime the pump, if you can imagine your brain as a hand-dug well with a lever-style pump.

Writing is mostly a solo affair. (heh – and now I’m reminded of what Heinlein said about writing “do it in private and wash your hands after”)

On occasion, however, chatting with friends, posing questions, or just rolling in a conversation with a bunch of like-minded geeks can lead to magic happening. You’re still the creator, but like a flint and steel, they struck the sparks you then carefully blew into a flame on the tinder you’d already set up.

Speaking of questions, I recently got an email asking: ” I suffer from weak search foo (wow, that sounds like a condition that deserves a comic storyline…). I hesitate to bring this up in public for fear of starting a flame war, but do real authors generally use a particular text editor? Word? Adobe? Scrivener? I feel almost certain that this is available *somewhere* on MGC but darn me if I could find it. I also imagine this topic, among authors, is like discussing which religion is best.” 

Firstly, the questioner is correct – this can go badly. So please, in the comments, be kind to one another. Remember that we’re all going to have points where we agree to disagree.

Human heart painting

Watercolor, with digital manipulation and text. The actual painting will have more detail added this coming week. But it was fun to play.

And finally – since it is late as I write this, and my head hurts and my hands are tired – I wanted to talk about alternate pursuits. When you just cannot write, for whatever reason (emotionally drained, overworked, burned out) then I highly recommend you find another outlet. I’ve been creating art recently, in spare moments. I want to write, but I know that if I sit down to write, I will no sooner get the well primed and the pump working, then I will have to get up and go. Or fall over into bed. But creating the art is keeping me from losing touch with my creative spark, and it relaxes me. I can fit it more readily into the nooks and crannies of life than I can writing, at the moment.

What is your alternate pursuit? And how can you tie it into your writing well, to help prime the word-pump in preparation for the times you do have to write?

63 Comments

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63 responses to “Crowdsourcing and Alternate Pursuits

  1. Word format is the industry standard, as in editors like to have the documents in .doc or .docx file. What you write in is pretty much up to what works best for you.

    Personally I swear by Scrivener, which allows one to output in a wide variety of file formats, so that covers the demand .doc and .docx files, and of course it allows you to produce epub and a number of other useful file formats. What I like most about Scrivener is the cork-board function, which is great for plotting, followed by scene list that show everything from word count to draft version.

    As usual there are other programs available that may serve you better.

  2. I do rough outline in a notebook, detailed outline in Google Docs (I can do both from just about anywhere), then do final writing and editing in Microsoft Word. It’s probably not the most efficient way to get things done, but it works for me.

    As for alternate pursuits, that’s where the kids come in. I can get a lot of thinking about stories when I’m driving carpool or watching the various sports practices. When I have quiet time and I still can’t write, I break out a book and fade into the furniture for a while.

    • I use google docs as well for drafting, and for that reason – it can be accessed from anywhere. I don’t have to remember to upload the latest version of a file, and if I want to share the WIP with my First Reader, it’s simple.

      I do final work in MS Word, but that’s just because it’s what I have right now. I’ve done it in Pages (Apple’s WP). I have not used Open Office, and have heard that it can be a bear to format from.

      And yes, kids can be an amazing distraction. It’s totally worth it, though.

      • They were also the inspiration for 80% of my first book.

      • aacid14

        Another option if you want to keep all your writing in a single program is some of the cloud software. I have a folder on dropbox with my scribbles and it simply downloads and autoupdates into a folder on my desktop, laptop or phone. Tablet is troublesome, but as long as have a wifi connection it can update.

        Right now those side pursuits have eaten up my life so less writing is happening sadly.

  3. I cook. And experiment in the kitchen, and collect recipes. So your eat this while you write that columns as just research, see? _Not_ more time wasted on the internet.

    In something that I’m not sure is cause or effect, my current MC is a chef. Well, actually he’s a government agent, but he tends to get sent off sort-of-undercover as a chef.

    • So… when am I going to get the name of a dish/ full recipe (if you want, but I can develop one) from you for ETWYRT?

    • Oops. . . . while you _read_ that. Not write. I’m obviously used to looking at things from the other side. About a year ago our fast suburbanizing semi rural area finally scored a good Indian restaurant. I’ve been trying to duplicate their korma sauce ever since. You know a good recipe . . . or I can send you the latest version I’ve tried.

      • Excellent! I will add you to the roster. I tend to play fast and loose with the list – it depends on time, inclination, and sometimes seasonal stuff. I’ll ping you about it in email.

  4. I picked up Scrivener at the discount rate after NaNoWriMo last year. Life happened and I didn’t get very far on that one, so I put it down for several months, and now I’ve forgotten the software. The learning curve is higher for Scrivener than Word, IMHO, but it is better for outlining/storyboarding and moving scenes around. I have one novel going in it, but everything else I’ve been doing in Word…like those pesky short stories that refuse to stay short, and turn into almost novels, and then you just have to go ahead and make them into novels or anthologies because they just won’t quit, like this sentence.

    Reading books (and reviewing them on Goodreads) is my ‘good’ distraction. It’s why I’m trying to write in the first place. I’m attempting to imitate what I love. Also, since LibertyCon, I’ve discovered this really cool group of Indie Authors who do blogs and inspire and educated me on what’s possible/avoidable/etc. I call that ‘research’ though…:)

    Facebook is my ‘bad’ distraction. It is a time waster…I know it, but I can’t help myself sometimes. It’s where I read about things that both bother and excite me. I’m like Norman from The Boys Next Door…I need my keys! I can’t get into things without my keys! [bad paraphrase I’m sure] Facebook is my ‘keys’. Or maybe it’s my donuts…hmmm….going to have to back and watch that movie again.

    So, anyway, there’s some fodder for the comment cannons in the impending flame war! 🙂

    Oh, and just a reminder…NaNoWriMo is in November, and they usually do a discount on Scrivener for participants. If anyone doesn’t have a copy, but wants one; that’s the cheapest way I know of to get it.

    • I’ve never tried Scrivener, myself, but primarily because I’m a pantser. I can’t plot, or I will kill the story (part of what’s wrong with the main WIP I set aside… I thought too much about it without writing it down).

      Reading (and reviewing, thank you from all the authors) is a great way to ‘prime the pump’ as it will help you become a better writer.

      • windsong

        I’m a pantser too, and swear by Scrivener. I can’t really use the outlining feature, but the binder (a table on contents that you can color code based on what each file is–chapter, scene, etc.) is a lifesaver. Both for organization, as well as letting me see my progress. The index cards are useful for jotting down notes for continuity, editing, character names and locations, or even a one line synopsis after I’ve written the chapter. You can also color code the index cards and stamp them with your progress status. The color coding part is very useful for when I’m putting together my small magazine-ish-type collections, because I can see the shape of how I’m structuring the collection by the order I put things in. The document notes are awesome for jotting down any brilliant–or not so brilliant–ideas that pop up while I’m busy writing something else.

  5. I use MS Word for writing, purely and simply because I’ve never found another WP program that can accurately reproduce every bell, whistle, shading and fiddly bit of compatibility with that document standard. Since everyone and his brother uses it, I reckoned I might as well go to the source and be done with issues. So far, that’s worked for me. I’ve used others, but never with 100% success in compatibility. (Try formatting a print document for CreateSpace, with kerning and other fiddly bits thrown in, and see whether your finished document remains the way you formatted it. It’s an eye-opener with anything else but Word.)

    Alternate pursuits? Not many, because of pressure of time and my health situation. I blog (a lot, as most of you will know), and take time now and again to sort through domestic clutter and throw out a lot of stuff we don’t need. (My wife and I are still cutting back on our belongings, trying to make ourselves fit into a very small three-bedroom duplex. We combined two households, mine being the biggest problem – think over 50 years a bachelor, with boy’s toys and the lot!)

    Finally, Pam? Korma sauce? Are you trying to curry favor with Cedar?

    😉

    • Groan… and Peter, I suspect the ‘boy’s toys’ have a good place in keeping your writing more detailed and deep than had you lived a… blander life.

    • TRX

      I’ve used a text editor called PC-Write. It’s limited to an 80×25 text mode MS-DOS window, about 500Kb of text, and its formatting capabilities are limited to hiding a few dot matrix printer directives in the text. It doesn’t know about mice, fonts, or graphics.

      Offsetting those limits, it is blazingly fast. All editing other than the cursor keys is done by ten function keys. In particular, it excels in block functions; for example, F6 to begin marking a block, F6 to end marking, F6 again to move the block to the new position.

      I tend to work in lists and blocks; by comparison, every “better” or “more powerful” editor I have tried simply takes too many keystrokes or mouse waves to bear.

  6. *tap tap tap* Is this thing on?… hmm. OK, my first comment here, so I’m being technically challenged…I hope this doesn’t end up as a double post or something…anyway…

    I picked up Scrivener at the discount rate after NaNoWriMo last year. Life happened and I didn’t get very far on that one, so I put it down for several months, and now I’ve forgotten the software. The learning curve is higher for Scrivener than Word, IMHO, but it is better for outlining/storyboarding and moving scenes around. I have one novel going in it, but everything else I’ve been doing in Word…like those pesky short stories that refuse to stay short, and turn into almost novels, and then you just have to go ahead and make them into novels or anthologies because they just won’t quit, like this sentence.

    Reading books (and reviewing them on Goodreads) is my ‘good’ distraction. It’s why I’m trying to write in the first place. I’m attempting to imitate what I love. Also, since LibertyCon, I’ve discovered this really cool group of Indie Authors who do blogs and inspire and educated me on what’s possible/avoidable/etc. I call that ‘research’ though…:)

    Facebook is my ‘bad’ distraction. It is a time waster…I know it, but I can’t help myself sometimes. It’s where I read about things that both bother and excite me. I’m like Norman from The Boys Next Door…I need my keys! I can’t get into things without my keys! [bad paraphrase I’m sure] Facebook is my ‘keys’. Or maybe it’s my donuts…hmmm….going to have to back and watch that movie again.

    So, anyway, there’s some fodder for the comment cannons in the impending flame war! 🙂

    Oh, and just a reminder…NaNoWriMo is in November, and they usually do a discount on Scrivener for participants. If anyone doesn’t have a copy, but wants one; that’s the cheapest way I know of to get it.

  7. I use MS Word because I do very little except very plain manuscripts. I’ve seen too many examples of what the fancy stuff does after being sent through several computers to ever fiddle with much. Just turn off the curly quotes and grammar check and I’m happy.

  8. amiegibbons15

    I bake. The more complicated or strange the recipe the better. And then i decorate the deserts. 🙂

  9. I’m a member of the Word Herd. (Which sounds like a Con tee shirt idea. Hmm . . .) My non-fic and teaching stuff requires MS Word, and I use Caliber for those times I need to convert a .doc into something else.

    Alternative activities? Well I used to have some, then I started teaching again, and my alternative involves writing lectures and researching same, or creating tests and worksheets. I need to do more pleasure reading. I guess walking in the mornings and listening to music (and choir once a week) are my outlets at the moment. (Yes, I am flirting with burn-out and exhaustion. I can tell.)

  10. BobtheRegisterredFool

    do real authors generally use a particular text editor? Word? Adobe?

    Word is a program in the Word Processor category. Text Editors are things like Notepad, vi, and emacs. I only have Notepad on this machine, so that is what I use.

    I generally write in a text editor, then copy paste into a word processor to check spelling and word count. I have upgraded to Wordpad for special projects.

    Ignore what I use. Writing processes vary so much from person to person that what is viable for one is entirely unfeasible for another. I’m also not a real author.

    I’m cheap, and only go for software that I can legally get for free. If writing is your business, it may be worth spending for better tools. A good tool is invisible. Experiment, and see what works.

    Many authors use a particular piece of software, because they know it to the point of invisibility. These ones may even stick to a particular version, because they know it. (How many word folks have switched to 365 and are happy?)

  11. When it comes to writing blurbs, I actually do it with a pen in spiral-bound notebook – I pick up a stack of ’em when school starts and schools supplies are cheap. Writing by hand slows the output enough the brain thinks of thirty variations and selects the current best one by the time I get it on paper. And then when I re-write it, it really helps with the rhythm and flow.

    When it comes to writing anything else, I use wordpad. I dislike the spellcheck and grammar check reminders; they’re a distraction when I want to get everything on the page first.

    So the best answer for the questioner is really: whatever works best for you, is the best program. They all have benefits and drawbacks, and there is no One Perfect Way.

  12. Uncle Lar

    Personally, I use BBEdit for small writing projects. It’s a text editor designed for HTML production, but does basic text quite nicely in my estimation. That said, when I do a copy edit I always want the source document in MS Word mainly for the track changes feature. I want the author to be able to run a comparison of what they sent against what I give them back with every one of my edits marked and labeled.
    On the Mosin, or as we proud owners call it the Poison Maggot, excellent choice. Relatively cheap, robust as all get out, inexpensive readily available military surplus ammunition, and ballistically equivalent to our US .30-06. Things kick like a mule, more so as the military built them short stocked for use by heavily dressed soldiers in a Russian winter. Shooting supply stores sell a slip on butt pad that you really need to get for the gun. They’re cheap, slip on like a sock, and do a great deal to cushion the recoil.

    • I have a recoil suppressor for my hunting rifle. Sanford has fired a (Noisy?) Maggot and liked it. He was a little resistant about having a rifle here, can’t hunt with them in Ohio, but we’ll move soon enough 😉

      • Uncle Lar

        Yeah, Noisy Maggot is the more socially acceptable nickname. But still and all poison both to your target and to your own shoulder with that metal butt plate. The rifle did for an incredible number of Germans in the WWII conflict as it was the standard issue for both Russians and Finns, common soldiers and snipers both carried them.

      • TRX

        Sell it now, before it’s too late!

        Mosins reproduce by fission. They’ll fill up your gun safe, your closet, and then you’ll find them hiding under the bed.

        • Uncle Lar

          But, but, but, you say this like it’s some sort of bad thing.

          • TRX

            There are secondary issues with unrestrained Mosin proliferation. At least two people on theakforum.com have had their floors collapse under the weight of wooden cases of surplus ammunition. They took pictures…

            Besides, if the house is full of Mosins, where are you going to put the Kalashnikovs? More than two across the back window of your pickup looks a bit pretentious.

      • Leon

        AIM Surplus often has Moisins and sometimes at cheaper prices than
        other outlets.

  13. Angus Trim

    Being noticeably ADD, I have always had a problem finishing things. If I got involved enough to become totally obsessed, then I could finish things.

    In the 90’s I got totally obsessed with Tai Chi Yang style as a martial art. That led into sword and the weapons. Can we say Total Obsession? I somehow managed to work the day job and do my share of raising three daughters, though I don’t remember how I did that.

    That obsession grew into the study of euro medieval weapons and the arts in their use, and into making swords. These led into the cultures of some of the times and places of Europe {it’s amazing the differences you find within fifty years and 100 miles}.

    Can we also throw in some Climate Change during these periods?

    So, most of what I write has some swordsmanship and/ or other obsolete martial tools involved. A couple of previous obsessions feeding into an newer obsession.

    • Yeah. “Write what you know” is fun. You get to research new things, as well as using the things you already know. Horses and dinosaurs have a nasty tendency to show up in my stuff.

      • And there’s a reason there is a food theme to my work!

      • Angus Trim

        I’ll bet you get thrown right out of the story if an author treats horses like they’re right out of Westworld.

        • Gallop all day, rescue maiden. Escape at a dead run, carrying double . . .

        • TRX

          > Westworld

          “Yeah, I’ll go to Harvard Medical school and take a residency in a major hospital. And since I have plenty of free time, I’ll write two or three adventure novels a year. And take an additional bunch of computer science courses, with a specialization in computer graphics, and do a bunch of medical imaging stuff. Then I’ll decide medicine is boring and go to Hollywood and make movies and TV series and write more books and some computer games.”

          Well, Crichton was only 6’9″ tall, I guess he would never have made it as a basketball player…

  14. B. Durbin

    I actually write in TextEdit, the free notepad that comes with the Mac. This is because Word has auto-functions that drive me absolutely bonkers and I’m one of those people that can be unnecessarily distracted by font selection and the like. I write just like you would in a comment box, with a double-return rather than a return and tab. Then it’s just a matter of a global replace when I copy the sucker into Word.

    I have done copyediting work on a book that was native to Word. A lot of what I ended up fixing was unnecessary markup text. I also had to fix tabs that weren’t tabs but spaces, as well as double spaces where there should be single spaces*. Drove. Me. Nuts. I hate Word. It has a tendency to make such tasks harder than they ought to be.

    *My principle job before the kids? Post-production at a photography studio. It’s amazing how that improved my copy-editing skills, because I can now spot improper formatting that is really subtle.

    And on that note—format at the end. Keep the absolute minimum until then, because it’s easier to do it all at once.

  15. Pingback: Kitchen Musings | Cedar Writes

  16. My vote for the Scrivener recommendation; it can be learned in segments as you need more power. Word is for offices and business, and fights fiction and ebook formatting with a vengeance. (I used to love Word – but the file handling and putting everything in the same place and being aboe to search it ALL in seconds simply can’t be beat).

    Unfortunately, my creative pursuit when I can’t write is – writing. Or if I’m too vegged out, and the spousal unit has selected something I can stand to watch, a bit of TV. I have no ability to multitask. I tried coloring books. Right now, close to publication, I can’t even read.

  17. Open Office is free, and replicates pretty much everything on request. (I actually started with WordStar back in 1984, which wasn’t a mouse user.) For really short fiction, I have actually just written it as an email.
    In my humble opinion, a Mosin Nagant is one of the second tier firearms to own. The first tier consists of a .22 LR rifle, a .22 LR handgun, a .38 special revolver for concealed carry, a 1911 in .45 ACP, a 12 gauge shotgun (20 gauge if you are small frame). Those take care of all realistic home defense, plinking, and varmint needs. Second tier includes a .30 caliber rifle, and that includes the Mosin Nagant, which is a distance shooter. I love my Mosin Nagant: I paid $125 for it, and it’s a ’34 Tula hex with all matching serial numbers, except for the bayonet. Ammo is steel cored surplus, which you have to cut out of a metal can, and which will shoot through concrete blocks. I do have the shoulder pad Uncle Lar mentioned, but I retained the steel but plate, which is serialized.

  18. morrigan508

    as to word processors I’m flexible, I generally write in word, but my publisher hates word so I end up converting to the format they like, and checking before sending off. I’ve got open office on my nook so I can write on the go, and I think that’s what I put on the wife’s laptop for writing there.
    Pump priming comes in a variety of ways, I am still an active SCA fighter (heavy and rapier) so fighting scenes get worked out in real time… I’m also a hunter, and getting out where there is NO electrical or electronic interface, except the furnace in the RV and you have to keep the battery charged for that, or freeze when the mercury drops to the wrong side of zero… Getting out in the sailboat is also a great way to recharge. In short I get the hell away from everything more modern than I can avoid. The problem I have is I get sucked in to the blogosphere and FB etc and oh squirel away my writing time when I’m burned out from work. That’s my big issue, is coming home from the paying gig too burned out to do anything more serious than what I’m doing right now (you might guess I had to work today, you would be right, 10 hour day. Bad side? I had an SCA event I was supposed to be at, Good side? $500 for a 10 hour sat. Bad side, too burned out to write.

  19. James Schardt

    I use Word. It was standard while I was in the Army and I never saw any reason to switch.
    I use Poser for artwork. Been using it since Poser 4. I can make that program dance and sing. I’ve been advised that using it is like trying to recreate the Sistine Chapel with crayons but, hey, I’m good with it.
    For time away from writing I play with my 3D printer and/or paint miniatures. Right now I’m painting Napoleonic and Vikings. I’ve got buddies that play a game the uses Dark Age minis (Saga) and I’ve been wanting to do Napoleonics for some time. I’m also using regency level technology in my books (augmented with magic), so I theorize I can use the Napoleonics to fight out any battles I need help imagining. Maybe monetize them with wargame rules later :p.

    • B. Durbin

      I paint in Photoshop, so I understand what you mean about not using the correct program. But when it’s something you know in depth, you can do things with it. (I really should learn a more appropriate program, but that’s a time/money consideration.)

  20. Reality Observer

    Hmmm. For “other” stuff, there is cooking (although not of the level or variety that many here do). Woodworking (practical, not “artistic”). Watching anime (where it is probably a good thing I know only fragments of Japanese and cannot stand subtitles). Some gardening.

    Writing? Well, I have my pad with me at all times; standard 8 1/2 by 11. In that, I scribble telegraphically what comes to me before it can wander away. Otherwise, I don’t “write” – I discovered keyboards at about age ten, on my mother’s Selectric II. Even fifteen minutes of “writing” turns my right hand into a painful claw.

    Started out with WordPerfect way back when (wish it’s DOS version was still around, actually). Then became a professional web developer, Microsoft centered shops every time, and use Word for everything. Not any version beyond 2003, though; having it do things that I cannot control drives me nuts (2003 does “help” on some things, but mostly what I rarely if ever use). I read Dr. Pournelle’s blog – just the other day, he described the easy way to get auto-completion working in the latest and greatest – no thank you! (I also use Excel for some simple tracking of my productivity.)

    World building and writing, I just have my folders organized, and insert a document link wherever I need one (for example, a character name – I insert a link to the character document). Makes it much easier to keep things straight. Other than links, though, it doesn’t get formatted there except for italic, bold, paragraph/chapter breaks, and such.

    For getting something ready for publication (which, actually, I have done only “test” runs for as of yet), I have a script that pulls text from Word into an HTML document – then, since I write in HTML just about as fast as in English, it’s easy to add only those tags that the Kindle converter likes, and no others to confuse it. (No, I don’t know what I’m going to hit when going to CreateSpace or Kobo or something other than Kindle – but from what I understand, all of them work fine with nice, clean HTML files.)

    Sigh. I do believe that I have used my quota (perhaps a bit more) of parentheticals for the week…

  21. I design fabric patterns and costumes. Most never get out of the planning stage but I’ve actually taken the time to make some of them.

    As for text editors, I like LibreOffice because it works on Linux and plays nice with Jutoh.

  22. Holly

    I use Open Office. I stopped using Word for anything over a decade ago when it ate 50,000 words when I ran spellcheck. (Ate the save file, and I didn’t hit save. I’m not that stupid. I was stupid enough to only have the first 20,000 words backed up. I . . . just started rewriting that, actually. Writing Concentration Deficit Disorder, or something like that. All the other things . . . I’ve learned a thing or three and this has flowed smoothly, and fast, so far. I just need to learn to finish!)

    Other things I do . . . I do everything. I mean, I’m a mom: I cook, I clean, I sew, I crochet, I garden, I teach. I play ‘cello. I play Sims 2 and other computer games. I read voraciously.

    • Reality Observer

      I should try to get back to crochet – my grandmother taught me decades ago. I remember that it requires just enough focus to keep one interested, without seriously taxing weary brain cells. Won’t try cello, though.

      All the rest I do – as a domestic deity of the male persuasion.

      • Holly

        So you mean you’re a dad? *grin*

        Try potholders. Get some cotton yarn for that. They fit nicely in a diaper bag and are good when waiting for whatever child’s activity to finish. Also you can size them to your hands, which is a huge plus. They work up fast enough that you can see the end, which if you have a shorter attention span, like me, is a good thing. An afghan just takes too long.

  23. For the software, I use a few. For actual writing. I use something called Liquid Story Binder. It’s old, and is no longer being updated (which is very sad) but it’s the only thing I’ve found that just tosses tools at you and says ‘go for it’ and lets how they inter-link be mostly up to you. (Name different kinds of files the same thing they auto-associate, otherwise there are a myriad of ways to organize.) I would probably replace it if something else came along that did what it does. (Scrivener outlines are the same as scene headings and they convert back and forth, this is okay for somethings but not for others.) It’s also great if you don’t write the same way every time. One world I needed a calendar that linked to scenes, so I created a story board, numbered my months/days of the week and used the titles to link to and create the scenes I was working on so I could get things right. (When will the relief column get to the refugees? Will they get back in time for the battle with X pace for the refugees and Y pace for the relief slowing to X pace when they all meet up? Do I need to tweak timing? How fast will the messanger for the refugees get to the camp of the king at the battlefield so he can SEND the relief column? Will the timing work out?) And I can see it all (The story board worked better than the timeline for that, because I needed to be able to simply and efficiently move things around. LSB’s weakest two features are the mind map and the timeline.)

    I own and use scrivener for collecting things together and shuffling things around. (Usually by the time I’m done with a draft. LSB is a MESS!) Scrivener is my digital filing cabinet. As such it is VERY hard to beat.

    I’m waffling with Realm Works and Scrivener on world building and tracking. Scrivener is easier to just find things and move them around (see filing cabinet) Realm Works has MUCH better cross referencing. (Yes, I adapt my gaming software to writing… why do you ask?)

    Aeon Timeline is one of the best timelines I’ve run into. You can actually create calendars that are weird and have nothing to do with ours, and then create different iterations based on those calendars for various projects. You can theoretically link them to Scrivener (And each other) but I haven’t figured out how yet.

    I have discovered that Keeping Track of All The Things(tm) is both essential for me, and can be an ENORMOUS time sink.

    For what other things I do, crosstitch and art are the two that I run to for the moment. I’ve been considering programing simply because my favorite software is so long in the tooth that if it’s going to get updated it’s going to need a rewrite, and the original creator would rather finish his own writing of novels rather than focus on the software (this is completely understandable, but leaves a quandary). The answer may be make something similar myself or find a programmer friend who is bribable.

  24. Sara the Red

    Hmm. I’ve been eyeing Scrivener for quite some time–seems like those who’ve tried it here generally quite like it, so I’ll give it a go! Anything to make plotting easier. I *know* I’m not a pantser. Though at the moment, I’m experimenting with plotting-in-spreadsheets, and it’s…not horrible, actually…

    I knit. That’s my ‘good’ distraction, because even if I’m not doing what I should be (like writing) i’m still producing something useful.

    My bad, bad, bad distraction is Bioware. Specifically, Bioware games…(damn you, Bioware)