Writing a little about the nuts and bolts of what works for me. Not trying to set this out as the way things should be, just offering up what works for me in case it can help someone else.

I use a program called FocusWriter for creating the original text in my books. It is one of those minimalist programs that blanks out the screen and doesn’t allow you to do anything else but write. I will admit that I need something like that. There are just too many distractions and too many other things that a computer can do. Think of minimalist  word processors as the equivalent of blinders for a horse – something to help you get to where you want to go.

FocusWriter doesn’t have a lot of the bells and whistles of something like MS Word or OpenOffice but you don’t need that when you’re in the initial creation stages. Just write the words! I can style things as much as I need to at this point. FW lets you set up themes (You can see the one I’ve created in the attached image.) that help put you in a nice frame of mind for writing. It’s everything you need from the software.

Yeah, it is nice to be able to tab over to an Internet browser when you have a question about something. I use the net for ideas for names especially. But it also breaks the flow of writing. Writing isn’t always easy for me and when I get into the zone I want to stay there, not go traipsing off somewhere else. So I use a trick I learned about from Cory Doctorow – when I come across a name or a fact I need or something else that I am just not sure about I type XXXX into the manuscript. It is a nice visual cue when I read back over the previous day’s writing. Plus I can use the Find function to sort through the different instances of XXXX to make sure I didn’t miss any of them. Very useful!

I’ve worked a lot as an artist over the years and worked on a number of different computers. Currently I have two PCs. I do early morning writing on the downstairs computer. Once the wife and son wake up I use the upstairs computer for afternoon/evening writing. I’m digging the upstairs computer lately. It is the older one which means it is slower for surfing the net and playing games so those distractions are less tempting. But I also like it because of the setup. We’re using it as something of a media center in the bedroom so it sits on top of a dresser. So I have started to use it as a standing desk. I’d read a lot about the health benefits of standing desks and wanted to give one a try. I do like it a lot. There was no discomfort for me – I don’t usually write for more than two or three hours at a time. I also like being able to pace. I’ve always found movement to be a good stimulus to thoughts. Being able to type a bit, walk back and forth while the next part germinates and then type some more is really refreshing. Give it a try.

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