So How Are Things Going, Hmm?

So, if the last few years has taught me anything it’s that writing is more difficult than…um… solving a 4d Rubik’s cube. Or building a computer processor with a broken soldering iron and a pound of un-spun wool, or circumnavigating the globe in a rubber inner-tube. There are many similes I can use and they will all be inadequate for the job (as you may be able to tell). My current level of progression is testament to all of this. Let me summarise my last four years, since I started this self-learning experiment.

At least a million words have been set to paper (or onto the screen and saved to disk for the most part) and numerous notebooks covered in inarticulate scribbles, inelegantly organised and piled in dusty corners. About fifty apps have been utilised in a vain attempt to be productive and to organise yet further notes, most discarded (see previous post). I have developed a routine for writing that requires a goodly portion of my free time, and I find myself pondering upcoming scenes whilst doing my day job, buying groceries, driving around, making coffee. Everywhere and when, in fact.

It is almost as if writing with the intent of creating a work of fiction has changed the way my brain works. Don’t get me wrong, the fact that four years later I have not produced anything worthy of consideration for potential publication, and only completed two actual projects (both of which are, frankly, naff) has no bearing on the fact that the decision to write is the best thing I ever did. It gave form to what my mind craved.

I have to say, I am in perpetual admiration of proper authors; those people that have the focus, application and intelligence to create book after book, crafted and thoughtful as each one is (in the most part). No, in fact I am jealous of them, an envy that drives me on to write yet more gubbins until ONE DAY I create something of which I am proud as punch to call my own work of genre fiction. It will happen one day, but I tell you this, each and every day is a struggle to better myself and to–one day–join their ranks. I know I can do it. I have to.

Distraction and Apps…Where I went wrong

I love apps. There’s no getting away from it, I love apps. The reason for this is twofold; firstly I am a nerd (or is it geek?) and have totally bought in to all the tech associated with iphones, macs, and so on, so I love this stuff. Secondly, and more important, is that, for the aspiring author, they are a distraction. That is the key.

If I were to list the apps that have crossed my path, sheltered under the umbrella of ‘writing workflow’, it would be embarrassingly large. So here goes…

  • Scrivener
  • Byword
  • Ullyses
  • Storyist
  • Adobe Story
  • Textilus
  • Word
  • Google Docs
  • nValt

So that’s just *some* of the writing apps. Associated with those are the myriad note-taking apps…

  • Simplenote
  • nValt
  • OneNote
  • Evernote
  • Pocket

And in further association, there are the general apps that become wired into all the rest…

  • Dropbox
  • OneDrive
  • Google Drive
  • iCloud Drive
  • Box
  • Mindnode
  • Aeon Timeline
  • Photoshop CC
  • Illustrator CC
  • Lightoom CC
  • Workflow
  • duet

And these are the ones that I have currently. I have acquired and discarded about the same amount, though I struggle to remember them so I won’t bother listing them here.

So, a lot of distraction going on. You have to realise that most of these apps require some significant investigation to get used to, and I have put in the learning time on nearly all of them, under the misguided assumption that ‘It will help me be more productive’.

Hundreds of YouTube tutorials and a thousand ‘How To…’ websites later I can confirm…they did not. Don’t get me wrong, I still use a lot of these apps (such as Byword and markdown, with which this blog post is written) but–and here is the rub–I don’t really need to.

If I have a message to get across about all this, it is that there is too much emphasis on workflow and organisation. If you want to write, just WRITE and stop thinking you need a bundle of digital assistants to do so. If you feel the urge for an app, read a book.