30 May

Easy and Safe Writing across Multiple Computers with Scrivener, Dropbox and Crashplan

Easy and Safe Writing across Multiple Computers with Scrivener, Dropbox and Crashplan

Easy and Safe Writing across Multiple Computers with Scrivener, Dropbox and CrashplanSome years ago I lost all of my writing in a hard drive crash. I’m not crying over spilled milk – the writing was rather horrible – but it did set me thinking about redundancy and safety. I started doing backups.

At first, I did backups to CDs. That worked all right, until I thought I had done a backup and formatted my hard drive. Of course, I didn’t have any CD with my latest stuff on it. And then, when my computer crashed and I had to reformat it, I lost a few months of work as well.

So instead of CDs, I started using an external drive to backup all of my files. Which worked fine, except that it’s a pain in the behind to hook it up all the time. And I didn’t want to leave it hooked up and out in the open because part of the reason of doing backups was to protect me in case my computer got stolen.

But, two years ago, I found my main backup and sync solution. And last month I found the perfect way to work across multiple platforms, multiple computers, in complete safety, without having to do anything. Read More

23 May

Mathematical Proof that You’ve Got Time to Write

Mathematical Proof You've got Time to Write

Mathematical Proof You've got Time to WriteThere is one in every gathering. The friend-of-a-friend who says “Oh, I’m going to write a novel, too, when I’ve got the time.”

Sometimes they use variations “I’m going to write when I retire.” “When the kids are older.” “When this project at work is finished.” If only they’d have the time.

Well, friend-of-a-friend, since I don’t have the courage to take you by the ear and shake you, I’ll do the second best thing. I’m going to lampoon you on the Interwebz. I’m going to prove to you that you’ve got the time to write, using cold, hard math. Read More

09 May

You Have to Begin

You have to begin

You have to beginYou have to begin.

You have to begin, over, and over, and over again. A new story, a new chapter, a new sentence.

You have to begin. That’s all there is to it.

For me, beginning is always hard. I know of people who look at the page and don’t know what to write. I don’t. If I look at the page, I start to write. It’s the moment before, right as I start the computer, think about what I need to do, that’s the hardest.

I know I should begin. I know that as soon as I begin I’ll be able to write, I’ll be getting somewhere, anywhere. But the moment before I start, that’s pure fear.

I’ve been writing professionally for over fifteen years now, and I still have trouble beginning. I still feel the fear. Read More

25 Apr

Writing 100 Novels Without an Outline – Interview with Dean Wesley Smith

Writing 100 Novels Without an Outline

Writing 100 Novels Without an OutlineLooking at Dean Wesley Smith’s resume, you can’t help but go “wow”. Dean’s written far in excess of 100 original novels (Amazon lists 211), a couple dozen Star Trek novels, the only two Men In Black novels ever published, and scores of novels for licensed properties such as Smallville, the X-Men, Aliens, Roswell and Quantum Leap.

In addition to this Dean Wesley Smith has published several hundred short stories. Since October 2013 he’s been publishing his writing in an original magazine, “Smith’s Monthly”, containing one new, original novel and several short stories in each issue.

Calling Dean prolific is a bit like saying that the Niagara River is a large stream – it just doesn’t capture his output. He does it in a way that a lot of writing teachers say you shouldn’t: edits as he writes, writes one draft and sends it out, and doesn’t use an outline. Dean’s an unapologetic one-draft discovery writer. Read More

18 Apr

How I Beat the 1000 Word Writer’s Block

1000 Word Block

1000 Word BlockI can’t write past 1000 words.

Up until that point I spin, I flow, I tap the words out like a prima ballerina flying across the keyboard. But once I start to approach the dreaded limit I slow down, meander, erase and finally stop.

For years I thought that this was some sort of magic limit, a curse that would strike me the moment the count reached 999. It didn’t matter how great the idea was, how motivated I was, how rested, how revved. Come word 1000 and everything fell apart. I resigned myself to writing short pieces.

But about six months ago I sat down to write up an idea which had been bouncing about my head for a while: an introduction to Intellectual Property law aimed at game designers. Read More

11 Apr

What Type of Writer are You? – Stages of a Fiction Writer review

Stages of a Fiction Writer

Stages of a Fiction WriterSo I’m a stage 2 writer. Or maybe early stage 3. I don’t know. And until I read Dean Wesley Smith’s “Stages of a Fiction Writer”, I had no idea what any of that meant.

Stages of a Fiction Writer is a short book. Very short. It doesn’t have very much concrete content. And yet it’s eminently readable. I should know, I’ve read it twice now. Read More

04 Apr

A Simple Guide to Writing Games

Writing Games

Writing GamesI’m a writer. I’m also a game designer, game player and game lover. And, folks, I hate what writers do to games – most writers simply don’t know how to write games.

Let’s take a prime example: Harry Potter’s Quiddich. Harry’s the Seeker of his team, meaning that if he catches the Golden (or Silver, if you’re a fan of the books) Snitch ball his team gains 150 points and instantly wins[note]OK, there’s a plot point in one of the later books where the Bulgarians are 160 points behind when they catch the Snitch and thus lose.[/note].

So what would this do to the game, if it was real? Since catching the Snitch is worth 150 times as much as scoring a goal, why is there only one guy (Harry) chasing it? Well, those are the rules. I buy that. There are plenty of dumber sports[note]Such as competitive cheese rolling. It’s real. And don’t make me mention chess boxing.[/note]. But why should the players at Hogwarts be written as dumb? Read More

08 Feb

No, You’ll Never Have Time to Write

No Time to Write

No Time to WriteI’m sorry, but you’ll never have time to write.

Not when the kids move out, not when you retire, not when you find a friendly billionaire who’d just love to gush money and adoration upon you. If you haven’t found the time to write now, you won’t find it then. Here’s why.

Time is the one commodity that everyone has the same amount of. You, Donald Trump, Brandon Sanderson, Nelson Mandela[note]Well, not Nelson Mandela since he’s dead.[/note], you’ve all got the same amount of time. And they’re world famous in Poland[note]That’s a quote.[/note] while you’re not. So what gives?

When I started out, I didn’t have time to write. I lived a pretty hectic life: I studied full time, I taught martial arts (Ju-jutsu Kai), I had a girlfriend, I had friends. I also played about 100 hours of video games each week.

Later, I didn’t have time to write. I lived a pretty hectic life: I worked full time, I had a wife, a baby, and a number of webcomics and blogs to read.

Later yet, I had a full time job, a wife with a full time job, and two small kids. And I had time to write. Not only that, I now have time to edit, write and receive critiques, read online comics and blogs, be active on social media, write this blog, and submit my work to magazines and competitions.

What the hell gives?

The good news is I haven’t found a time machine. I haven’t cut out everything fun from my life either. All I’ve done is create a few, simple habits and follow them slavishly. Read More

01 Feb

6 Warning Signs that You Shouldn’t Be a Writer

6 Warning Signs that You Shouldn't be a Writer

6 Warning Signs that You Shouldn't be a WriterHalf of all the people who want to write never put down a word on paper, and half of those who do never finish anything[note]According to acclaimed writer/teacher Robert J. Sawyer’s analysis of Heinlein’s rules. Read it, it’s really good advice![/note]. So how do you know if you’re meant to be a writer?

TL:DR[note]Too Long, Didn’t Read. As in Internet.[/note] answer: you don’t. But you can see the signs that you’re not meant to be a writer. Here are the 7 biggest ones: Read More