Rambling Thoughts on Writing, Methodologies and Techniques with Tips - Mine and Yours

Bill Loguidice's picture

I'd love to hear others' opinions and thoughts on this topic, so I may as well lay my own out first. Matt had sent me an interesting link yesterday about Steven Johnson's writing techniques and mention of his recent use of DEVONthink, which is listed as a "Personal Information Assistant", and is essentially a database for copying and pasting all kinds of info in an organized manner for later access, and is particularly useful for those writing books or research intensive articles or papers. Always intrigued by such things, I checked it out, but alas it's only for the Mac platform so it's not something that's viable for me at the moment since I use those as secondary, not primary systems (which are still all Windows XP- and Vista-based). This got me reflecting on my own ever evolving writing style and idea/reference storage techniques over the years.

I'm 36 as of this writing, so I still remember back when even typing papers on a typewriter in grammar school was something of a novelty. In seventh grade when I turned in a book report using a Commodore 64, the Doodle drawing package and a Commodore MPS-803 not-even-9-pin dot matrix printer, mixing text and hand-drawn computer graphics, it was groundbreaking. (I later used a technique to "improve" resolution by printing on carbon paper, which would lessen the visible dots) When I got a C-64c to replace my lightning struck C-64 (which messed up the graphics slightly - I still have it), it came with GEOS, which mimicked laser printer output by cleverly printing text as graphics. Again, shock and awe. (We were all blown away by REAL laser printer output when one of our classmates near the end of our time in high school got their parent to generate the output at their job)

The point is, those were crazy, creative times, where it was easy to wow the average person with the wonders of computers. Though I obviously embraced them 100% and never stopped, one issue that I had was originating content on a computer (or typewriter for that matter). I literally had to handwrite everything first, read it and then read it again for errors, make my fixes, THEN type it. Not very efficient, but the mental block was nevertheless there. Slowly in my final years in high school and then fully when I got to college was I finally able to originate content strictly on computer. Obviously now, like most others I imagine, I can't really do it any other way. In fact, my handwriting is all but busted, requiring great effort to generate anything more than chicken scratch (most of my handwriting these days is on little sticky notes or shopping lists or stuff like that - nothing particularly long).

By the start of college I had stopped using my Commodore 64 and Coleco Adam (with its "letter quality" daisy wheel printer, but horribly buggy word processor), and was extensively working with my Commodore Amiga 500 and the mediocre WYSWIG word processors for it; mostly Final Copy if I recall correctly. I had a COLOR dot matrix printer this time, I think a Star NX something, with something like four times the number of pins the MPS-803 had. Of course, being dot matrix, it still left a lot to be desired, but I remember very distinctly in my freshman year producing a paper in my Astronomy class on my Mars observations with a real color photo of the planet inserted into the paper that I believe I pulled from some BBS or another. That kind of fluff saved a very poor paper.

After a year or two, my father got me a 386 SX-20 2MB laptop running Windows 3.1. I used the Lotus Ami Pro word processor on it, which was rather more capable and stable - though still not perfect - than anything I experienced before. If I remember correctly, it was around this time that my father also got me my first laser-class printer from Okidata (though it was a laser-like technology, it was the same basic concept and quality, complete with toner/drum), which allowed my output quality to go through the roof at 300dpi. Nevertheless, there was still a ton of stuff done with pen and paper, even at the very end of my attendance of college (I graduated 1994), particularly in regards to note taking with regular pen and paper. (I had entertained the idea of bringing my laptop to a class or two, but I was concerned about the typing noise and really no one was doing it at that point)

In my final year of college I had a creative writing class that was focused on the short story (major output here and here). One point that the teacher made was that you should write something in your "journal" every day and that it's critical to write every day. We needed to turn in our journals, which we'd get back, at the end of the semester. Luckily for me, I was already one step ahead of the curve, with a large notebook that for a few years I was compiling story, character, theme, etc., ideas into for future use. I was able to leverage that to make my life easier. It's something that I continued to add to for quite a few years thereafter, but honestly haven't touched in at least the past several years. (I supplemented the notebook with a mini cassette recorder that I would record thoughts onto for later dissemination and placement into the notebook. I STILL have to get those old thoughts off of there. Today I have two digital recorders, not counting what is always built into my cell phones these days. One I carry with me at all times and one I have by my bed. Since these record in handy MP3 format, it's much easier to pull the thoughts/ideas off of in a timely manner and actually make use of them! My memory is rather poor when it comes to stuff like that so I find these recorders are a godsend. It also helps me get out often discombobulated thoughts and sentences that are critical for some of my writings--I just transcribe them for my use. You never know when inspiration will strike and you're not near a keyboard...)

I was really inspired by that class and was always considered a good writer, even in grammar school, so I just assumed I would get into writing somehow after college, but things didn't really work out that way, and I was not nearly as aggressive as I am now with such things. My interests always varied widely, but I was mostly into fiction, particularly sci-fi and fantasy (shocker I know). I dabbled in a videogame newsletter that never got off the ground with a friend who ran a popular BBS, and was active on Internet discussion forums through that same BBS, but beyond being the foundation for some of my early work for Armchair Arcade, nothing much came of it. When I finally landed my first real job a few years after graduation - at the ripe old age of 23 - it was as a Technical Writer and Network Administrator, where I was exposed to the "joys" of using WordPerfect 5.1 on a character-based UNIX terminal (SCO UNIX). I did eventually get the hang of its obscure commands and came to appreciate WordPerfect's speed and spartan appearance (and in fact would install it on older DOS hardware and collect quite a few books about it), but eventually even my workplace got on Microsoft Word, which I've been using ever since. The point though about the job was that in my roughly two and a half years there, I rewrote and typed something like 3,000 resumes, which pretty much burnt me out on any extracurricular writing. I was drained.

Nevertheless, before, during and after that job, I continued to keep up with the "journal" and the voice recorder, and always wrote snippets of things here and there for future use, saving it to 3.5" disk. I also read a few writing magazines, which is funny because someone once said that the only people who read writing magazines are people who don't write. Cynical, but true. Now as a published writer, I can't possibly imagine getting much help from techniques and theory--I would find it more beneficial just to actually write more and continue to refine my style and methods.

So with my ability to write strictly on computer and high speed typing ability thanks to doing all those resumes (which appeared in my nightmares for years thereafter), all that was necessary for me to succeed was in place. Or was it? I think without the invention of the World Wide Web, I might still be floundering, though who knows what creative fires would have raged inside of me and manifested themselves into something productive? I was one of the first 20,000 people in the country to get on Comcast cable's high speed Internet (back when it was @Home) and it was a truly wonderful experience. Slowly I became exposed to more and more content and more and more ability to blather on like I'm doing now. In short, I was finally able to fill in the missing piece and "write a little something every day" on topics that I genuinely enjoyed (be it on a bodybuilding mailing list or a videogame forum or whatever). Again, writing a little something every day is absolutely key. Over time, your skills WILL improve. I read some of my writings even from a few years ago and cringe at how much better I've gotten since then. That's only possible through regular practice and challenges.

I never really did get back on the short story or fiction track, pretty much limiting myself to videogame- and computer-related writings since 1998, which was probably the last year I did much external freelance writing for non-technology newspapers or for fun. By 2003, after my forum postings on the Monroeworld.com forums started to get noticed and I agreed to join with Buck Feris and Matt Barton in founding Armchair Arcade, my path was pretty much set. After Armchair Arcade's launch in January 2004, I finally had an official vehicle to showcase my passion and talents, and, thanks in part to the other talented people of Armchair Arcade both then and now, continue to benefit from it. It was Armchair Arcade that gave me the "power" to write for other videogame magazines and publications, it was Armchair Arcade that opened the door to my first and second book deals, etc. (it also got Myth Core Productions going, which I plan on restarting at some point soon - at least from a fantasy novel standpoint) By always taking pride in my work and insisting on professionalism (again, along with others of similar mindset), along with lots of ambition, elbow grease and some luck, we were able to leverage the true power of the Internet, which really allows for unlimited personal and professional growth.

In the intervening years and even before I got my present Tablet PC, I transitioned from organizing stuff in a paper notebook to the superb Microsoft program, OneNote, which I still love and still have a ton of stuff in, though don't actively use as much now due to my present inability to access it anywhere (I'm possibly considering GoToMyPC to alleviate that issue, but I'll have to see). If I only had one computer with me at all times, there would be no issue, as it does everything perfectly from an organization and workspace standpoint. However, that's not the reality of the modern working world, at least not mine, at least not today. Unfortunately, there's no easy way to keep it synced among multiple computers, ignoring the fact for the moment that I don't even have multiple licenses for it. Regardless, this has a ton of unused Armchair Arcade article ideas in it, as well as all the other stuff that the paper notebook would have served a purpose for. Also, it contains all of the notes and all the rough drafts from my first, as of yet unpublished, book.

Anyway, before my "life story" tangent, which luckily for you, the reader, omitted many details, I was going to talk about how my writing gets organized these days and how it evolves and will continue to evolve. One of the challenges Matt and had with the Vintage Games book was since it was a 50/50 collaboration, we needed some streamlined way to work together that was more sophisticated then just passing documents back and forth (which we tried with a previous book and was a bit clumsy). After an abortive attempt with Microsoft SharePoint and growing frustration, we finally came to a consensus that worked out beautifully. My personal concern was having the ability to write from anywhere, so any solution that required a software program or being tied to a single system just wouldn't work. Internet to the rescue. Matt and I eventually settled on Google Docs, which we could share on an individual document basis. Essentially each chapter would be its own Google doc and we could work either together at the same time or (most of the time) individually, with a handy indicator when one or the other was in it. This was accessible from anywhere and was very, very handy. Of course this was just good for text drafts, so we'd work up a good version of the chapter, then I'd bring it into Word into the publisher's template. From there it would be worked further and passed back and forth, but the meat of the work was done in Google Docs. We occasionally kept notes in Google Notebook, but that got cumbersome and in fact Google has stopped development on it. (The basic idea was sound though and was good for Web clippings to reference later)

One of my personal favorite tools for the Firefox browser is Foxmarks, which enables easy bookmark synchronization across as many computers as necessary. This was especially important as occasionally I'd create temporary game folders in my bookmarks that would contain working Web pages that I wanted to reference while writing. Then it was just a simple matter of deleting the folder when I was done.

I hope to do future collaborations with Matt and my wife (and who knows who else), and certainly I see myself using the same type of workflow, with tweaks to the process as necessary. One thing that would complete the package would be some type of online OneNote (or the aforementioned DEVONthink that started this lengthy diatribe) type of thing, of which there's not really an equivalent, which is why I may explore accessing my home laptop remotely, but something that I'm not 100% keen on from a cost standpoint.

By the way, I have all of my working files, including documents, on a 16GB ruggedized flash drive on my key chain, that I back up regularly. This was I have a working drive with anything I could possibly need at all times and not have to worry about having access to a particular computer or if a particular computer goes kaput. All of my book stuff to date is on the one drive, which is terribly convenient when I'm at work (who luckily does not have a flash drive policy).

Anyway, I'd be happy to discuss those or similar elements in more detail, but I'd also love to hear your own stories of work patterns when you write, how you collaborate, etc., and particularly what tools you use.

Important Tips:

- Always have either a digital voice recorder or notepad handy (preferably both).
- Learn how to create and write strictly on a computer if you haven't already. There's no reason to waste the time and effort in rewriting or transcribing if you don't have to. Efficiency makes a huge difference.
- Write every day, no matter what it is.
- Try everything for the hell of it, you never know what will work out.
- Whenever you write anything, be it an IM, e-mail, comment, whatever, always try to use proper spelling, punctuation and grammar--it reinforces good habits that will pay off when you really need it for something important (even something extremely casual and stream-of-consciousness like this that admittedly just begs for a proofread and rewrite meets certain minimum standards).
- Challenge yourself by writing about subjects you're not familiar with and might require research. The same goes for styles--if you're comfortable writing non-fiction, challenge yourself with some fiction or vice-versa. In my opinion a true writer can write on or about almost anything.
- Carry a flash drive with you at all times with all your documentation and related items on it. Obviously some will be squeamish about this idea, but if you attach to it your keychain, there's worse things than losing your flash drive if you've lost the keys to your car(s) or house...
- Take chances and see where things lead, as you never know. I got my first book deal by pitching an idea to a literary agent after only a single night's work on the proposal. I just said to heck with it and tried it. The Vintage Games book was a project Matt and I almost turned down, but I felt confident we could turn a tepid idea into something special because I believed in our abilities. It may now lead to a feature documentary. Again, take chances and look for opportunities everywhere and be sure to ask lots of questions along the way so you're even better for the next time!

Postscript - Observations on the styles Matt and I have:

In working with Matt for so long now and particularly intensely with this book, it's interesting some of the things I've noted about each of us. Matt is a great writer, with the ability to easily inject fun and humor into his writing. What he's not though is a particular stickler for (patience for?) small details, which is where I come in. I tend to write less straightforward than I should and only occasionally inject fun in my writing, but I'm very much a stickler for detail. For instance, I'm the one that insisted we mention developers/publishers/platforms/years, etc., whenever possible, even though Matt argued that it interrupted flow. I'm also a slow-ass writer, where Matt is much faster. I tend to labor over my writings more, whereas Matt can churn stuff out with greater ease (or at least has the greater ability to push outside distractions aside and get down to business). I tend to have a broader understanding of videogame subjects for various reasons, so I can fill in a lot of the blanks and make a lot of the connections that Matt wouldn't be able to otherwise. It works out well.

I also think once Matt writes something, he pretty much divorces himself from it. I've been obsessive about doing all the time consuming post-book stuff, for instance in setting up the dozens of pages on Armchair Arcade or doing the blog on Amazon, where Matt has taken a rather laid back approach and let me pretty much run wild. It was the same thing during the production of the book, where I took on the organization aspects of things, the conversions and image processing, and took the lead in the back and forth with the publisher and what-not. This way I can put a lot of TLC into making everything as perfect and polished as possible. That kind of thing is really only practical - particularly considering the limited time given to produce the book from start to finish - when you work so well as a team and can minimize each other's weaknesses and exploit each other's strengths. I just don't think you'd have half the end result that is Vintage Games, both in the book and online - if only one or the other of us was working on this. I highly recommend you finding your own Matt (or preferably Matts) and really trying to work together on something I know you'll end up even more proud of than if you did it yourself.

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Matt Barton
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Great post, Bill! I'm

Great post, Bill! I'm tempted to write out my own "writing history" or whatever you want to call it. Really nice work!

My tech history is pretty brief. As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a successful science fiction (and later fantasy) author. Obviously, that didn't work, but didn't stop my 11 or 12 year old self from churning out "novels" on my Amiga 1000 using Scribble!. I, too, remember dazzling my teachers by submitting printed out work. The other kids thought I was a total nerd/dork and pretty much beat me up or sexually harassed me on a daily basis ("You faggot!!!" yawn), but you know how that goes--especially in the South, being seen as anything resembling "intelligent" is the kiss of death. I really feel sorry for kids in that situation, such as the hmong kids in Gran Turino who will probably never get a chance.

Anyway, I was happy with Scribble! for word processing for many, many, years, supplementing it with Deluxe Paint IV for "design" work. We eventually had Final Copy, and of course I dabbled a bit with Word Perfect in school. I also used a Brother typewriter with a monochrome screen a bit at my grandma's. I pretty much fell in love with Microsoft Word the first time I used it (must have been in the early 1990s), and haven't really felt inclined to use anything else since.

I've used all manner of collaborative software, and even wrote about it at length (see Wiki Writing). I love wikis, though obviously there not suitable for everything. I also like Google Docs a lot, though it's unfortunately also limited and just isn't as aesthetically pleasing to me as Word. What I do like about G.D. is that it's VERY easy to use; stuff like Sharepoint and Groove can be such a pain to get setup (especially since you have multiple people who need to connect). I saw a program demonstrated once called "moonedit" that blew me away; that's more or less real-time collaboration. For some unknown reason, it hasn't seem to catch on, though I keep thinking it's the natural future of this stuff.

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Bill Loguidice
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Matt Barton wrote:

My tech history is pretty brief. As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a successful science fiction (and later fantasy) author. Obviously, that didn't work, but didn't stop my 11 or 12 year old self from churning out "novels" on my Amiga 1000 using Scribble!.

I have not given up hope to one day produce a fantasy or sci-fi novel. A lot of work was done on the Myth Core project that I think lends itself to an adult sexy fairy tale fantasy, so I want to explore that and see what happens. I was planning on at some point working with Christina on turning the various ideas into a short story or two and see how the world plays out. I mean a lot of work was done on character development and missions/plots, so it would be nice to give it one last honest try. Of course with that said, even though it's exceedingly difficult to get a non-fiction book published, it's even harder to get a fiction book published and they're far less likely to sell. With that said, it's worth a shot as we've seen how trying things sometimes work out unexpectedly.

Matt Barton wrote:

Anyway, I was happy with Scribble! for word processing for many, many, years, supplementing it with Deluxe Paint IV for "design" work. We eventually had Final Copy, and of course I dabbled a bit with Word Perfect in school. I also used a Brother typewriter with a monochrome screen a bit at my grandma's. I pretty much fell in love with Microsoft Word the first time I used it (must have been in the early 1990s), and haven't really felt inclined to use anything else since.

My big problem with word processing on the Amiga - and I just had a 1MB 500 with dual disk drives - was the stability of it, of course I never did use Scribble!. In fact, though I had stable word processing from what I could remember on the C-64 with programs like the Quick Brown Fox and later GeoWrite, I really didn't have stable, more professional word processing until the move to PCs.

Matt Barton wrote:

I've used all manner of collaborative software, and even wrote about it at length (see Wiki Writing). I love wikis, though obviously there not suitable for everything. I also like Google Docs a lot, though it's unfortunately also limited and just isn't as aesthetically pleasing to me as Word. What I do like about G.D. is that it's VERY easy to use; stuff like Sharepoint and Groove can be such a pain to get setup (especially since you have multiple people who need to connect). I saw a program demonstrated once called "moonedit" that blew me away; that's more or less real-time collaboration. For some unknown reason, it hasn't seem to catch on, though I keep thinking it's the natural future of this stuff.

I don't consider Google Docs a replacement for an offline word processor, but it's certainly convenient for drafting stuff. They still need to add some features as well, but I'm certainly grateful for it and it worked out well in the creation of "Vintage Games". I'd certainly use it again for collaborations and maybe even for individual draft work.

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Chris Kennedy
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Hey Bill -

Wow. That was a really fun read. I wasn't sure what direction you were going to take when sharing your thoughts on this subject, and I was happy when you took an approach that touched on the evolution of computers and word processors as you wrote throughout the years.

Here's a story from some of my time in school. I remember typing a paper and electing to use the generic Windows Write application of all things as opposed to the illustrious Word Perfect 5.0. This was in a time where people still asked the teacher questions such as, "Do we need to type this one?" Up until that point, you turned in two things - your "rough draft" and your "final copy." The rough draft would get edited, and your final copy was created using that rough draft and its edits. When it was time for the final copy, it was time to break out your nicer (bic) pen.

I turned in my paper after using Windows Write. What was the highlight of this moment? My paper got passed around class! Yes! I was a great writer! Except....no. Not really. It got passed around because "Guys! Chris managed to put a word in ITALICS!" Yes. It was true. There it was. I had managed to use Write to put a word in Italics. Not ONLY that...but that Dot Matrix Epson FX-86 managed to pull it off! It's really funny to think about what a big deal that was back then compared to the resources we have now.

I am not a writer. Specifically, I am not a writer in a professional sense of the word. I do hope to write a few books in the future. My father wrote for UPI, a local newspaper for 25 years, and continues to write as a freelancer today. My mother taught English for several years. My sister got a degree in journalism and currently has a job in her field. Me? I got a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in Computer Science and "write" software for a living. I like technology. I always have. I ended up getting a degree and pursuing a career in the field. I am quite different than the rest of my immediate family. That said, I still feel the burn to write every now and then. Maybe I can write something significant someday. I hope to reduce my use of parenthesis and ellipsis when that time finally comes. I may write a book based on a video game. Not a fan fiction, but more of an analysis. I've been concerned about the number of people that would be interested in reading the book in addition to what sort of publisher would be interested. Witnessing the two of you churn out your book served as a bit of an inspiration and proof that it *can* be done. We'll see.

So the odd thing about me and writing would have to be the fact I still use paper and pen. The same guy that writes software and spends so much time on the computer goes old school when it comes to writing. Hmm. Perhaps the reason I use paper and pen is because I am on the computer for extended periods of time and want to treat writing as an escape. My handwriting isn't too bad, and using a pen gives me a feeling of freedom when writing. Having the ability to easily write sideways in a margin, draw arrows, scratch something out, or add question marks above thoughts or sentences (i.e. mention this or not??) really helps free my mind and fuel the brainstorm. When I reach a point where the thoughts are a bit more coherent, I hit up the computer and transcribe the notation-based paragraphs into what I hope to be legitimate ones with some sense of order. From there, it evolves exclusively via computer.

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Bill Loguidice
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Publishing thoughts and handwriting
CkRtech wrote:

... That said, I still feel the burn to write every now and then. Maybe I can write something significant someday. I hope to reduce my use of parenthesis and ellipsis when that time finally comes. I may write a book based on a video game. Not a fan fiction, but more of an analysis. I've been concerned about the number of people that would be interested in reading the book in addition to what sort of publisher would be interested. Witnessing the two of you churn out your book served as a bit of an inspiration and proof that it *can* be done. We'll see.

Well, it's certainly a long and often difficult process to get something published. Essentially you need a solid idea that preferably you can run by someone with industry experience. I tend to use my literary agent for that, a gentleman who specializes in technology books. If there's a germ of a decent idea, you then need to develop a convincing proposal. I've written four now either alone or with someone else, with three of them given serious publisher consideration and leading to deals on two of them (with the third a pending longshot). There's no "magic" to the proposal, but they all have certain structural and organizational elements in common. Once you have the proposal, you begin the tedious shopping around process. Certainly having a literary agent helps immensely in that case, as many publishers these days won't even look at unrepresented manuscripts.

What stinks is that as you know, the publishing business is presently in the tank. It's not just books either, but newspapers and magazines as well. Print is in big trouble. Three years back I got a deal that was considered a bit below the average with an 8k advance. These days you're lucky to get half that. The other issue is what niche you're playing in. In regards to videogame books, there are few titles that actually sell outside of hint books and walkthroughs, so that makes most publishers very, very wary of taking on new videogame projects. If you do actually get a deal, it's only because they can produce the thing at a certain page count at a certain quality that they consider safe. Certainly part of the reason Matt and I got to do Vintage Games is because the publisher was and is counting on us having "Armchair Arcade" as another sales platform and to provide support for the book. Without "Armchair Arcade", it might have not even been a sale. Who knows? The point is, the more hooks you have, the more value you can provide to the publisher, the better. And, oh yes, there is no money in this whatsoever. You've got to do it for the satisfaction of having a legitimate published book.

Let's briefly talk numbers. The best selling videogame book of all time has apparently only moved something like 16,000+ copies since 2001. Most struggle to move even a few thousand units over their lifetimes, some a few hundred. Those are not big numbers, especially in comparison to other categories. It's a tough niche to play in. The point is, you've got to do it for the right reasons, which a lot of people (and I'm not counting you in this) don't do. I'm still stunned at the number of people who think getting a book published will make you rich or that they'll even get a decent payday regardless. One gentleman I was speaking to on another forum had it in his head that he was going to write his first book (I forget if it was fiction or nonfiction) so he could help his niece pay for her college. He was planning on using an old disk based DOS word processor on a classic PC because he thought it would be fun. I informed him of the realities of the money situation with book writing (only big names get those big advances, and best sellers are few and far between of the countless thousands of books released each year) and also of the fact that every publisher I've known so far has all of their templates in Microsoft Word, which is obviously pretty much standard everywhere, like the business world. Not to discourage him, but to help him better manage his expectations and see the reality. Again, it's important to go into it realistically and with the right motivation and expectations. The reality is you can never hope to make back financially the hours of toil that you have to put into it.

CkRtech wrote:

So the odd thing about me and writing would have to be the fact I still use paper and pen. The same guy that writes software and spends so much time on the computer goes old school when it comes to writing. Hmm. Perhaps the reason I use paper and pen is because I am on the computer for extended periods of time and want to treat writing as an escape. My handwriting isn't too bad, and using a pen gives me a feeling of freedom when writing. Having the ability to easily write sideways in a margin, draw arrows, scratch something out, or add question marks above thoughts or sentences (i.e. mention this or not??) really helps free my mind and fuel the brainstorm. When I reach a point where the thoughts are a bit more coherent, I hit up the computer and transcribe the notation-based paragraphs into what I hope to be legitimate ones with some sense of order. From there, it evolves exclusively via computer.

I'm faster typing these days. Writing longhand would just slow me down. Regardless, the important thing is just to write, so if that's how you're most comfortable then that makes the most sense. I remember experimenting many times over the years, most significantly with my NEC Mobile Pro 750C Windows CE handheld that I got back around 1996, with handwriting recognition, so I could essentially write comfortably in bed (since typing is not always convenient). It had pretty sloppy recognition (modern systems, like my Gateway Tablet PC are rather better) and I eventually gave up the idea, though I'm set up to type comfortably in bed now if I so chose. I also have a full Fly Fusion setup, though I have yet to implement it, and there are lots of more professional solutions to capture handwriting and optionally convert it to computer text. My big thing is convenience, so whatever the solution I prefer to cut down transfer/translation time as much as possible.

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Rowdy Rob
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Good Posts!
Bill Loguidice wrote:

I highly recommend you finding your own Matt (or preferably Matts) and really trying to work together on something I know you'll end up even more proud of than if you did it yourself.

Heck, I've been looking for "Matt" for 20 years!

Bill, you seem to be on an emotional high in your last few posts, including your "Man-Bag" video, which made me chuckle a few times (remind me not to call you on your cell phone!).

Anyhow, I'll try to make my writing history brief. I recall trying to write a story in the fourth grade, and then a more serious attempt in the sixth grade, which got me bumped up to the highest-level English class when one of my friends showed my chapters to his English teacher. I wrote several things in high school too. All this was before the days of widespread word processors (they still had MECHANICAL typewriters in my school back then!), so all this was written in notebooks, only a few of which I still have.

I really didn't discover word processors until "Speedscript" came out for the Atari (via type-in listings in "Compute!" magazine), then I never looked back. My use of "fancy" computer printing techniques backfired on me in a college English class; the instructor held up my paper in front of the class (with a fancy title page with big bold fonts!) and said "what's this? A VIDEO paper?" He saw it as an attempt to mask the deficiencies of my document, which it in fact was. :-(

I used to alternate between two writing techniques (I only occasionally write anymore). The first technique is just plain-old stream-of-consciousness writing, going back and editing it afterward. When you're "on fire," you just have to let it flow!

The second technique is probably the more workable: the "outline method." First, you write all the story points you want to cover, with a grab-bag of ideas, in no particular order. Then, you try to organize all the concepts into a broad OUTLINE, laying out the basic flow of your story or document. After that, you break down your outline into further sub-heads, going as far as the paragraph level. From there, you basically write each paragraph from each section of the outline. This method is sort of like "programming" a document! Hey, that's what I'll call it: the "programming method" of writing!

This outline method has the advantage of letting you see your story flow from a broad perspective, even rearranging parts as you see fit ("object oriented!"). You can then go to the "Jack shoots alien" heading and write the paragraph around it.

Another advantage of the "outline" method is that you can go back to an unfinished document after a long layoff and jump right back into writing it with much less back-reading and trying to "re-connect." It's sort of like "nibbling away" at a document or story idea; you can slowly fill in your outline until the document is complete.

That's all I'll say for now (it's bedtime). A quick thing: keep the fire! I'll quote Rocky's trainer Mick from "Rocky III:"

"Now, three years ago, you was supernatural. You was... You was hard, and you was nasty and you had this cast-iron jaw. But then, the worst thing happened to you that could happen to any fighter. You got civilized."

qoj hpmoj o+ 6uo73q 3Jv 3svq jnoh 77V

Bill Loguidice
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You're one perceptive SOB,

You're one perceptive SOB, Rob. Gotta love ya for it! Yes, I do feel particularly energized the past few days. Like I said, I've been fighting off a cold (along with my wife) for the past month. I've felt it going away a few times in that time, but each time it came back with a vengeance. I'm in hopefully the final recovery period, which is why I'm feeling good again. I'm sure everyone has had that feeling where when they're sick they're tired and frustrated and feeling like crap, then when you start to feel better you have an inspiring energy like all is right with the world. That eventually evens out, but the initial rush is very refreshing.

The only thing really ever holding my moods down are my job, but I'm sure many of us deal with that, and certainly in this economy it's just nice to have a job period. It did put me in a bad mood again this morning, but I'll get through it as there are some things today that may bring me out of my funk and of course the weekend is coming.

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Catatonic
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YouTube has an interview

YouTube has an interview with George Carlin, from a year or two ago, in which he describes his writing techniques. He wrote down all his ideas, and used a computer to categorize everything, because the ideas are useless if you can't find them later.

Bill Loguidice
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Go organization!
Catatonic wrote:

YouTube has an interview with George Carlin, from a year or two ago, in which he describes his writing techniques. He wrote down all his ideas, and used a computer to categorize everything, because the ideas are useless if you can't find them later.

I agree 100% (no one ever said Carlin wasn't smart!). My memory is so bad that if I don't write an idea down, it's likely to be gone within a days if not a few hours or moments. What sucks is that I have lots of unorganized notes/ideas, so I really need to find time to catalog it properly. Unfortunately I have more things to do than time as is well documented.

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Bill Loguidice
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Microsoft OneNote and GoToMyPC

Well, I decided to bite the bullet and get a GoToMyPC account and utilize Microsoft OneNote as my go-to organization application full-time along with Google Docs. So far, GoToMyPC is very, very impressive, with very, very fast remote desktop viewing and control, though it stinks that the $20 a month is for access to only one PC. I had to pay an extra $10 to also be able to access my work PC from home (the reverse). What's nice though is that you can deactivate/activate systems as necessary, so it doesn't have to be the same two.

I'm going to look for Manbag 2.0 today, something a bit fuller sized that can accommodate my Fly Fusion and a full-sized notepad for it, as well as the Pandora when that comes. This way I can pretty much just carry that instead of my Manbag 1.0 and laptop bag (sans laptop) combo that I do now back and forth to work. The catch is Manbag 2.0 must have quick and easy access like the smaller "Manclutch", aka Manbag 1.0 offers. Not an easy requirement believe it or not...

Vintage Games book!
Xbox 360: billlog | Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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