Review – Things other than writing tools

Some asides


Let’s face it. Writing can be hard work. If it isn’t this or that, pondering your characters, plots, settings, or whether or not just to throw it out and start over, it can be rough sometimes.

For some people it comes easy a lot of the time (I’m looking at you, ML Steele) and for others it doesn’t (I’m looking in the mirror.)

So, what do I do when I’m in that whitewater zone of staring at either a blank screen or a blank page?

I stop. I get up. I get off the computer, or away from the paper. I take a break.

Composing is mental work, to be sure. Whether it is composing words, music, or artwork, that right-brain uses up glucose at a higher rate. I’m pretty sure that is the case for me, at least, because I’ve got to eat something after I write a lot of times. At the very least, I’ll drink something while I’m taking a break.

So, get some apples. Bananas, if you like them. Dried fruit. A bowl of oatmeal is good, too. I personally  like the raisin, date, and walnut packets from Quaker Oats. Those are good in pancakes with a little bit of vanilla extract.

If I’m not in the mood to eat something while I’m ‘on break,’ then I’ll drink hot tea. Or I’ll stir up a drink mix. Or I’ll do what I really shouldn’t and have a Coke and a smile. The last one is for Prime members, but I couldn’t resist.

Of course, there are all the other things people of well-meaning natures tell you: get plenty of sleep, don’t stress, exercise, take care of yourself, and all that. While all of that is true, sometimes inspiration comes at the price of no sleep, stress, lack of exercise, and things of that nature. That doesn’t make it any less aggravating to hear someone say that. Especially if you haven’t slept because a story idea is burning up your brain, and you’ve been up all hours of the night pounding it into your computer.

Still, if the idea is there, write it down. You never know what you’ll get for inspiration and you never know what you’ll get for a result.

In the meantime, have a snack. Get up and move around. Check on the kids or the animals. Leave a little corner of your brain on “auto-complete” and let it work as a background process.

Or, for the Linux guys, set a mental cron job to process the stuff your brain is working on while you sleep at night – if you sleep.

Then, when you sit back down at your keyboard, or at your writing pad, you’ll have a good chance of things flowing smoother.

And now, a quick word from our sponsors

I’ve always wanted to write that. It reminds me of the old time radio shows I like to listen to.

This little blurb is about the ads that you see on this page, and on the aStore link in the top row. When the site was being set up, careful consideration was made about whether or not to place ads on this space. This is a writing website, first and foremost.¬† There are ads for and eBay for those things that (are supposed to) relate to the act of writing. Sometimes they stray a bit, but generally they will stay with the content of this site. No car parts, beading supplies, construction equipment, or shoes are going to be shown (I hope.) Take a few minutes and click on the links or the aStore. Look around for a little while – maybe you’ll find something that you’ll make good use of. The aStore in particular was set up with the needs of writers in mind.

People have mentioned to me that they don’t want to use their credit cards online, and that is a valid concern. Some suggestions: make sure the browser address bar shows green or a padlock. The aStore is a regular virtual storefront, but it will translate to a secure session (meaning “https://” in the address) once a cart is loaded and checkout has started.

Also, from my retail experience, I would recommend Green Dot cards. These are reloadable debit cards that allow for shopping online. While I don’t have a Green Dot card myself (I use a Google Wallet card and a Paypal Business Debit card.) I’ve not heard anyone complain about it. They are safe and secure, and will provide a type of financial firewall to your personal banking.

Happy Writing!

-JB Steele

Review – Basic Equipment

20150712_131800 slim

Here’s a glimpse into history.

Not history as in “what happened during the Crusades,” or “Jonas Salk’s discovery of the polio vaccine,” or even any number of historical greats that some of us dozed off to in class.

This is a glimpse into the way things were before computers.

I grant you that right now, reading this on a computer or cell phone screen, it doesn’t seem to be quite right. Still, dissonance in the space-time continuum aside, this is a tried-and-true method of putting down ideas.

Don’t believe me? Think about it, the next time the internet goes out. You’ll be digging around for the paper bill from your ISP to call them and give them a piece of your mind. That is, if you don’t do your services through your cell phone.

About the only problems with using computers to compose is the notifications, the seductive lure of email, the clarion call of Google and Bing to look up this or that, and that link up in your bookmark bar to play a browser based game.

Johannes Gutenberg revolutionized the way words found themselves distributed in the 1400’s. Before then, it was carefully carved wooden blocks or even more carefully scribed letters. The common denominator for all of these was the surface for all the symbols. Clay tablets, or papyrus scrolls, fabrics, or paper.

And that is what I refer to, when I mention history.

There are times when I write that I don’t want to be bothered by the blinkenlichten and sounds. I just grab the pad and something to write with and go. I write faster this way and while there might be scratchouts or whatever, I get my ideas down. Writer’s block is often cured in this way.

Also, if I should get a new idea, I’ll scribble it down on the back of the page, or in the margins, and keep on truckin’ with the main event.

So, looking at Amazon, for instance, I found these pads. Plenty of paper to look at and think about what to put down.

And pads or notebooks are of no use whatsoever, if you don’t have anything to write with, so here are some tools to write with. Simple stuff, really, and there are certainly preferences to take into account here, but I would suggest these.

And, of course, these can be used for more than just writing the next bestseller.