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Posts from the ‘Writing’ Category

Auld Hoyrn

The scrap men circle. Hungry, dark-eyed lads. Always polite, always grateful for a broken toaster or telly. More filler than metal, their battered chariot speeds through the streets like some hellish ice cream van. Hesitate and they’re gone, cruising over the horizon with their comedy bugle warbling, a nasal plea on loop.

But there are other, older, less frequent visitors. Real deal, old school, rag and bone. One drives, the other strolls alongside the gurgling van – a swaggering barrel-chested bare-knuckle fighter who hollers from the soles of his boots. Hear his cry from streets away. Marvel at the roar.

Scrivener tip: editing auto-complete character list in scriptwriting mode

In scriptwriting mode, Scrivener automatically adds character names to the auto-complete list as you write. While this is for the most part convenient, it can prove to be a pain if you decide to change a character’s name, or accidentally type something formatted as Character & Dialogue instead of, for example, Technical Directions, as it will still be added to the list and appear in the options list every time.

If this happens, and you’re like me and want to keep things neat, you might feel the need to prune your auto-correct list. To do this, from the Menubar select Project/Auto-complete List, then in the pop-up window simply edit the list and click Save.


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Scrivener tip – adding annotations in plain text files

If you use the sync with external folder feature to edit your Scriv project as plain text files in another editor – in my case iA Writer on the iPad – and want to add annotations, simply enclose the text you wish to annotate in double brackets, thus:

((annotation example here))

When next opening the project in Scrivener, this text magically appears in a red annotation bubble.

Bob’s yer uncle.

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Breathing space – a blog about creativity

Inspiration is unpredictable.

This morning I was leaning into a wardrobe to hang up an item of clothing when an idea popped into my head. I had to dash to the computer to tap out this little gem before it faded. Good job, too, because it’s transformed the short story I’m working on. It wasn’t exactly a bolt from the blue, rather a distillation of several ideas and possibilities I’ve been mulling over. But it certainly highlights something about the creative process.

I used to believe that if I wasn’t sitting down at a computer or with a notepad, staring at the screen with my fingers poised above the keyboard or chewing the top of a pencil, then I wasn’t working. And being the kind of guy I am, I tend to feel guilty when I’m not working. Yet it’s often when I’m not consciously thinking about a project that the most important developments occur, when the subconscious mind has space to do its stuff.

This is something I’ve only recently come to fully appreciate and accept; and it’s a realisation that makes my creative endeavours somewhat less stressful. Sitting down with a pencil and paper/laptop/iPad/[insert your weapon of choice here] and staring through the window are undeniably important aspects of the game, but most good things need time to mature.

So if you’re struggling, just relax. Watch television, play a video game, go for a walk or a bike ride* – and don’t feel guilty. But carry a pencil and a scrap of paper with you. Just in case.

* Both forms of exercise which stimulate blood flow and oxygen intake – just right for boosting creativity.

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Writing and Me

I’m beginning to wonder if I’m a workaholic. I love writing, I love creating stuff, whether it’s working on a novel or a script or a short story or a blog post. If I could, I’d do this kind of thing all day, every day. When I’m not writing I feel somewhat guilty.

My day job work also involves sitting in front of this computer typing. Sometimes I put in too many hours and my head aches and my eyes hurt, but I still want to do my thing. I want to add content to a blog post, read an article, look over my Development folder and bring another piece a step closer to being the one that’s in focus. Occasioanlly my body tells me enough. Relax. Do something else. But I find this hard: even when I’ve had a productive day I want to do more.

The more I write, the more I know it’s what I want to do. Novels. Radio scripts. Short stories. It’s what I am. Even though it can be frustrating at times I love all aspects of the writing process – from the one-line seed of an idea that grows and eventually bears fruit, to the magical bits that come along at unexpected moments – and sometimes even work. I even like the look of text on the page and screen: well-balanced paragraphs, sections of dialogue. This post is a good example: small, but perfectly formed.

The bonus is that this never has to stop unless I choose to stop it. Some people just want to go to work and come home and sit in front of the telly, have weekends off and a holiday or two each year. If that’s the kind of person you are, then that’s great; good luck to you. But that’s not for me. I like the challenge of making the next thing I write better than the last thing, the potential of what it may become, and knowing that, hopefully, the best lies ahead.

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