Hello! Today I have author Laura Lam sharing a guest post with you all as part of her amazing book Pantomime's blog tour. I absolutely loved Pantomime so be sure to check out my 5* review of it here! Enjoy :)
NEW YEARS WRITING RESOLUTIONS: BEING MORE ORGANISED
I haven’t made too many writing resolutions this year, but one is working on being better organized. I have so many disjointed notebooks with handwritten notes or snippets in various Word documents. I know where everything is, but not always in which form, so I end up wasting time searching, which can sometimes frustrate me and interrupt my writing flow. Organizing notes can be difficult and sometimes I’m left vaguely embarrassed by the shoddy state of my research and outlines, and so this year I’m investigating writing software, a personal wiki, and a Livescribe pen.
Until this point, I’ve done all my writing and planning in Word. I tried to use Scrivener last year but I just didn’t get on with it. But Word has severe limitations, and I wanted something where I could combine my world-building, my outlining, and timelines.
I tried a few different types of software: Storybook, yWriter, and Liquid Story Binder. Storybook worked fine, but I didn’t like the actual interface for writing. I couldn’t find full-screen and the window seemed too small. It also had a bit too many bells and whistles that I didn’t need. Liquid Story Binder was even flashier, and almost seemed like a procrastination tool rather than writing.
The one that worked best for me was yWriter, and so I’ve been using that while I draft another project. This project is quite complicated so being able to take a step back and get an overall view of scenes has been really useful. I’ve prepopulated a lot of the later scenes with outlining and I keep changing as I go. I’ve added pictures of locations and characters. There’s a separate section for project notes so I can have background information on the setting, the families that lived in the setting over the centuries, the rules for a certain plot point, et cetera. Overall, it seems to be helping my organization and productivity. Why didn’t I take the time to investigate these sooner?! I can be a bit of a luddite sometimes.
Pantomime’s world is large and complicated, and I have tons of scattered notes that this year I plan to combine into a personal wiki and have an encyclopedia I can refer to and populate as I write, such as the history of the royal family, the Snakewoods, the political situations and culture of the other former colonies of the Archipelago, and organize the detailed history of Ellada, which is the country where Pantomime is set. This will stop me from going “now, where was that bit of notes where I talked about Imachara’s layout again…?” and save me from grinding my teeth in annoyance as I click through a bunch of folders. As I plan to write several books in this world, having a cohesive history will be useful and worth the time investment.
For Christmas, my husband also bought me a Livescribe pen. When I suffer from writer’s block, I like to turn to writing longhand. I find writing longhand soothing—it forces me to slow down and think. I also am less distracted by things like Twitter. Mainly, though, I’m not afraid of the initial words being ugly on a printed page like I am when they are on a computer screen.
But transcribing whatever I write longhand is annoying. It takes up a fair amount of time, and as I work full-time and study part-time, I need to work as efficiently as possible. Also, I worry about not having a backup of my written words. They could get lost or damaged.
The Livescribe pen works pretty well. The pen can be a bit thick and cumbersome, but overall it’s easy to write with. After the computer syncs and scans it, I run it through an application called myscript. My handwriting is not super neat, but it’s not atrocious either. It does a decent job of transcribing, but I do have to go through and tidy it up. The programme doesn’t seem to like my f’s or my i’s.
So far, using these skills have been so helpful. My drafting is more organized and I don’t have ten Word documents lying around. I can still do longhanded drafting and notetaking, but I don’t have to waste near as much time transcribing and then I can paste that information into the project programme. These will hopefully help me reach the main New Years Writing Resolution of 2013: write more than 2012, and write the best I can.
About Author Laura Lam
Laura Lam was raised near San Francisco, California, by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. Both of them encouraged her to finger-paint to her heart’s desire, colour outside of the lines, and consider the library a second home. This led to an overabundance of daydreams.
She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She almost blocked him but is glad she didn’t. At times she misses the sunshine.