Tools

I generally write on my laptop, using emacs. (for people not party to the great emacs-vi religious wars, this means I type plain text, and deal with all the formatting after I’m done, in LaTeX, for those who care) I type faster than I can write longhand, so I have fewer problems with getting distracted because my fingers have gotten behind my brain.

Not always: I wrote Londa Went to Africa in her Day Glo Shoes in a hand-made-paper notebook while sitting out under a tree in Namibia. Gloria Gloria Tabitha Jakobson I wrote mostly on car trips, scribbling down verses on scraps of paper and old receipts. But the sequel to American Dragons I wrote over the course of a few weeks, 2000 words a day, with long walks through the Austin heat every afternoon. (This is about getting words on the page…revision, as always, comes later.)

But I feel happier, and write better and longer, when I’m typing.

I just got back from a trip around Europe, which was marvelous. On the trip, I carried a collection of notebooks, a nine-inch netbook, and an external keyboard*. I struggled with the netbook: there’s always a learning curve with a new computer. It had a new desktop manager, and a bunch of software that wasn’t yet familiar. Put that together with lack of internet and problems finding power outlets (on trains, in hostels), and I didn’t use the laptop much at all.

It was great for making reservations and checking email, but fundamentally, I found it annoying. And, as I discovered, I can be very motivated to write, but if the way I write bugs me, I just won’t do it. So, rather than returning with a full collection of posted blog entries and most of a new play, I returned with notebooks full of notes.

The lesson here is that I need to make sure my technology (even if it’s just a ballpoint pen and a notebook) is there in support of my writing. And that I need to get these notes turned around into a collection of posted blog entries and most of a new play.

* Actually, I was carrying four notebooks, two phones, a camera, and ipod, a AA battery charger, the netbook, and never quite enough pens, but who’s counting?

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