Process

I posted this picture on Instagram earlier. It is pretty much what I see when I work. It was taken while I was working. I have a less than stellar back and it requires periodic stretching, and during one such stretch I looked at the desk as a whole and realized that I could write a blog post about it, and some people might actually find it interesting.

Yes, I am delusional.

This is a pretty good likeness of me.

Okay, that’s out of the way. Now onto the thought that formed.

How does it look when things are really clicking? This is a pretty good encapsulation, really. So let’s break it down, shall we?

I was originally going to start with a plea that you ignore everything to the right of the picture. That pile that is actually threatening to start tilting the smaller monitor like some bell tower in Italy? Yeah, that one. I would really prefer that you didn’t see it, rather than ask you to ignore it. I’d want you not to see it because I’d picked it all up and put the stuff where it actually belongs.

But I haven’t, because when things are clicking I tend to let things pile up a bit. I fully intend to deal with it properly, but not right now, because it might take upwards of twenty minutes, and writing time is precious. So as long as gravity doesn’t overcome my construction and things start hitting the floor, I’m about the work.

And there it is, on the left monitor! My little ol’ book. I’m not going to dwell too much on that aside from pointing out that I work pretty bare bones in Word. (If I remember, we’ll have a little chuckle at MS Word’s expense a little later.)

There are a ton of features in the world-famous Microsoft word processor, and at various times I have used quite a few of them, but when I’m writing it’s the blank page, and the navigation panel which I use to jump around when I forget what I said three chapters ago. Of course, the built-in spell and grammar checkers are always humming. I don’t want to put any ideas in the mega-minds from Redmond, but if they found a way to charge me per correction, Office would cost me several billion dollars an hour.

On the desk below the monitor is a container full of toothpicks which have nothing whatsoever to do with writing other than sometimes I leave one hanging out of my mouth when I work because I have this old-movie, black&white memory of a writer doing that while clicking away on a typewriter. However, full disclosure, when I Googled, I ended up with former WWE Superstar Razor Ramon, in full color, and not a writer or even a typewriter to be seen. That may not have been my original point.

Oh yeah. Toothpicks. Forget them. Consider instead the brightly colored document on the desk. That’s just a print out of a Wikipedia article on the timeline of corona in the U.S. which is there because the WIP is set in the wild and whacky year of 2020 and since there are still a lot of people alive today who were alive then… oh wait. It’s still… nevermind.

Anyway, I try to write believable fiction, and research is important.

To our right, in the area of the dumpster fire we talked about earlier, is the second monitor. Let’s talk about that as well. Not what’s on it! We’ll get to that. The monitor itself. If you are a writer and you function with only one monitor, I bow before you as your unworthy subject. I guess at one point in my life I did it, but I don’t remember a lot from those dark, single monitor days. Once I was able to run two, I found that I spent so much less time looking for information and not writing, and… I think you can guess where this is going… more time actually writing.

Now onto the contents of that second monitor. I’m not getting paid by these folks at all before anybody asks. (There I go again, acting like anybody is asking me anything.) But I’ve been using the Plottr app for a while now. (I have probably written about it before, but my senility prevents confidence in this.) I like it for a lot of reasons, foremost among them I have long felt my ability to build a framework for my stories was a major weakness in my game. I have always found a way to get from the beginning to the end, but this has helped me up that part of the gig. In addition, it allows me to keep detailed notes on my locations and my characters. That is one of the character sheets on display.

Oh, and obviously there’s a woven basket filled with markers that is also holding up one of my business cards and could very easily be construed as shameless self-promotion within a blog post which is already basically all shameless self-promotion. The real reason it’s sitting there is so that I would remember to stick it into my wallet. Perhaps it is the first step in getting all that other crap put away too.

But probably not.

Okay, so that’s the shop in action. Now, let’s have that brief discussion about Word. I may have streamlined my process by going with two monitors, but I still find I have more downtime that I like because of the number of instances Word “stops responding,” which is of course MS talk for “probably about to crash.” And, so the other day I decided to keep track of how many times it broke down. For real.

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