Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

11/18/2016

The Inevitable Writer’s Block

Filed under: Fun,NaNoWriMo,Stimulus and Production,Truth and Consequences — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this month, you should be about two thirds done with your novel.

If you’re not, don’t worry about it! And, either way, it seems like a good week to talk about writer’s block.
Now, assuming that you’ve been writing this whole time, the most common forms of writer’s block, namely not having an idea and not using the habit of writing to actually put words on the page, are not your problem. Maybe, you’ve gotten somewhere in the middle and your genius story seems to have stalled. Or, maybe you got to a blind alley and realized that your story took a wrong turn 1,500 words ago. It happens.
Either way, try to remember this is all about getting the words out and on paper. And, if that’s not enough to get you going again, head over to Gizmodo and check out their advice on The 10 Types of Writer’s Block and How To Overcome Them. Not all of it will apply, obviously, but I’d lay odds that at least one of those ten types of writer’s block will at least come close to applying to you. Naturally, I think the advice will help, too. And, in fact, I encourage you to read all the advice, because something that doesn’t seem like it applies to your frustration may end up being what knocks you loose and starts you writing again.

Another helpful resource that can help you get through a block is your fellow NaNoWriMo writers. You can connect with hundreds of people who are also participating in NaNoWriMo in the NaNoWriMo Forums. The people there can be incredibly supportive and helpful and they may need a break from their writing at this point, too.

Again, the most important thing is to get your rough draft out this month. After you get the thing written, you can take a break and come back to edit it into shape. Don’t worry about that now. Just worry about getting your first draft written.
So, go, read as much as you need to to get past your block, then get back to writing!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

10/28/2016

Actual Writing Tools

Filed under: Fun,NaNoWriMo,On Creativity,Stimulus and Production,The Tools — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Now, you’ve got your setting, characters and story, so all you have to do is write it. Easy, right?

Okay, maybe not so much, but still totally doable, so don’t despair.
This week I’m going to talk exclusively about tools to do the actual writing with.  There are a lot of fancy software packages for this out there and what you choose to use is a personal choice based on who you are and how you write.  That said, let me share some of the more popular programs and tools to go with them.  First off, I would imagine a majority of people use Microsoft Word, because they have it available to them.  It’s not a bad way to go, actually, because you’re probably already familiar with it via school or work, so it won’t get in the way.  If you go with Word, William Shunn has some free, downloadable templates that will let you get started with a pretty standard manuscript format.  If you like Word, but don’t want to pay Microsoft for it, check out Libre Office instead.  It’s a free, open source alternative to Microsoft Office and it includes a very good replacement for Word called Writer.  And, I even have a basic manuscript template you can download and use for Libre Office Writer, also free.
If you want to get fancier, there are a lot of alternatives, but Scrivener is specifically written for fiction writers and is often offered at a discount to people attempting NaNoWriMo.  And, while I have absolutely nothing against the creator of Scrivener, there is a free, open source alternative called Plume Creator.  I don’t have any real experience with either of these, but I always favor the free, open source alternatives whenever possible.

For myself, while I used to mostly work in whatever word processing package I was currently using, I’ve gone to pretty much only using straight text.  I made that change for a number of reasons, but I was heavily influenced by an email exchange I had with Steven Brust about his writing tools.  I was surprised to find out that he wrote exclusively in emacs.  I found out after a bit of digging around that he’s not the only one.  Vernor Vinge, a brilliant science fiction author, also uses emacs to write his fiction, though it’s less surprising to me since he also teaches computer science at the collegiate level.  So, now, while I’m still working on the actual text, I just use my favorite text editor, which in my case is the same tool I use to write Perl code and edit server scripts and web pages, UEStudio, which is an extension of UltraEdit, a tool familiar to serious programmers.  Incidentally, keeping everything in straight text with out any formatting not only limits distractions, but makes for the most compatibility between systems, which, ultimately, is why I decided to make that change.

So, now, finally, you should have all the characters, setting, plot ideas and writing tools you need to get started with National Novel Writing Month.

This post originally appeared on The Fantasist’s Scroll.

5/6/2016

MFA Quality Ideas

Filed under: Fun,Stimulus and Production,The Tools,Uncategorized — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Well, maybe not quite, but, still, writing ideas.

I know my posts probably seem a little random these days, but that’s because I have a lot going on.  For instance, I’m trying to adjust my personal schedule to get up early enough that I can spend a little time writing in the morning before going to my day job.  If, and this apparently is a big if, I could get up just a few minutes earlier, I should be able to squeeze in as much as 45 minutes of writing.  One day.
Of course, the other half of that is writer’s block.  Which, honestly, I don’t have, really.  What I have is fear combined with a lack of practice and strong enough desire.  Unfortunately, it’s not a new problem.  One way I’ve tried to combat that over the years has been writing exercises.  And, since I’ve tried so many over the years, a lot of them get stale after a bit, which leads me to favor the random idea generators or random plot generators.
Since it’s Friday, I thought I’d share my most recent discovery; the DIY MFA Writer Igniter. It gives you a randomly selected character, plot, prop and setting to, hopefully, inspire you to write.  Give it a try!

And, while you’re on the site, check out their other features, too.  Some of the articles are pretty good.
Either way, enjoy your weekend!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

12/4/2015

Manuscript Submission Tools

Filed under: Art,Fun,NaNoWriMo,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

If you finished your NaNoWriMo novel last month, you may want to submit it for publication.

Here are tools that can help, via the Bookbaby blog.
First of all, know that these aren’t all free and all require a bit of work!
The first tool is Submittable.  It is free for “submitters” (ie. writers), actually, and has tools for keeping track of not only what you’ve submitted and to whom, but any awards and accolades you may have achieved with your writing.  You do…
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11/6/2015

Some Starting Advice

Filed under: Art,Fun,NaNoWriMo — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Advice for writers.

Specifically, for writers attempting to complete the National Novel Writing Month challenge.
First, jump over to Writer’s Digest and check out their 30 Tips for Writing a Book in 30 Days.  And, also, keep in mind that you’ll have 31 days to do it, but, if you haven’t started already, you’ve wasted at least five days.   (But, it’s still not too late!)  But, I’m going to assume you have started and maybe just need a distraction from all…
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11/14/2014

Genre Writing Rules

Filed under: Fiction,Fun,NaNoWriMo — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

First of all, there are no rules.

No, seriously, this is fiction we’re talking about here, so the rules are what you make them.  At this point, pretty much every “rule” you can think of when it comes to writing fiction has been broken.  For instance, when I was more dedicated to the craft (ie. fresh out of high school), I read a book titled Mister Johnson, which was written in the present tense.  Generally, that’s a “no no” in fiction,…
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2/14/2014

Creative Lists

Filed under: Art,Fun,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:35 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

This is not a new idea.

But, then, I remember hearing when I was in high school that there are no new ideas under the Sun, only new ways to implement them.  And, remember, every story you tell, is uniquely your own.  So, the age-old question about creative ideas, right?  Where do they come from?  The answer I got was that they come in a plain, brown wrapper from Schenectady.  (That was from Frank Herbert, author of Dune, via a phone…
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1/24/2014

No Excuses!

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

There are no excuses for not writing.

Even though I make excuses all the time.
The biggest excuse, or “writerly lie”, that I tell myself is that I don’t have enough time.  But, honestly, that’s bullshit.  Because, as it turns out, I always have enough time to drop whatever I’m doing to serve someone else.  I don’t make time for myself and make my writing, or photography, priorities.  My creative pursuits are the first thing to drop by the wayside when I…
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1/17/2014

Daily Writing Prompts

Filed under: Art,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

So far this year, I’m a little behind on my creative goals.

As you may remember, a couple of weeks ago, I posted my Creative Resolutions for the year.
I encouraged you all to do the same, but to make them goals, rather than unobtainable resolutions.  For me, one of those goals was to do more writing in general, and more fiction writing in particular.  It’s hard to get back into that habit, but I am working on it, little by little. …
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11/15/2013

Turkey City Lexicon

Filed under: Art,Fun,NaNoWriMo,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 4:24 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

The infamous science-fiction workshop lexicon of “things to not do”.

Over the years, so much has been written about what to do and what NOT to do in fiction that it’s a little overwhelming sometimes.
Personally, when I write, I’m almost always trying to write fantasy or science-fiction, or what is sometimes referred to as “speculative fiction”.  On the surface, that seems easier, since, essentially, a writer can make up virtually every and any aspect of their fictional universe, but, good speculative…
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