Hand getting cramped when you write more than a few paragraphs? Loosen up! Many people middle-age or younger are used to having to grasp pens and pencils very tightly to make lines. After a page or two of writing like this, the hand and wrist may begin to hurt. However, with gel and fountain pens such a tight grasp is rarely necessary. Train yourself to write looser by consciously slackening your grip, especially when you notice pain or cramps starting. It's not an easy habit to break, but it can be done. Soon writing can be a pleasure.
I've been searching for the perfect writing software for awhile now. I know that this mythical software won't improve my writing skills per se. But having the right type of writing software does help keep what I write and its structure organized while I work on choosing the precise words and setting them down onto the virtual page. As such, I've used several different applications geared towards writing professionals, and I think I have found the right application for both my writing needs and style. It's called Scrivener and it’s published by Literature and Latte.
Over the years I've found that writing a book or novel requires much more than just starting at the beginning and working your way to THE END. Writing the first draft gets messy and sometimes authors don't want to write the whole piece from the beginning. Instead we may want to focus on character sketches, world building, or we may just want to get the most exciting climatic scene written first. Using a traditional word processor where everything is entered into a single document, containing multiple non-linear thoughts on a myriad of subjects, is hard to do. MS Word was not designed for creative, chaotic writing that jumps around; it doesn't conform to non-linear thought patterns. If I were using Word to do heavy writing, the moment I decide to skip 100 pages into the text to first revise a scene and then move somewhere else to jot a note about a character, I'd end up spending more time searching for the two locations than I'd spend actually typing in the text itself. That's where modular writing and Scrivener come into play.
In these days of Twitter, texting and five-second Facebook comments, it seems as though there's also a bit of a backlash against "quick and dirty" digital correspondence. Many find that the humanity seems to be missing, and so on the bookstore shelves can now be found scores of books on hand-written notes, love letters, travelogues, greeting cards, and --above all-- honest-to-goodness pen-and-ink letter writing. There's a renaissance afoot.
So for this week's pick (actually our very first weekly pick) we'd like to highlight a thought-provoking article from The Art of Manliless by Brett and Kate McKay entitled The Art of Letter Writing, an overview of tools, expression, style and etiquette:
[...] But when it comes to sharing one’s true thoughts, sincere sympathies, ardent love, and deepest gratitude, words traveling along an invisible superhighway will never suffice. Why?
Because sending a letter is the next best thing to showing up personally at someone’s door. Ink from your pen touches the stationary, your fingers touch the paper, your saliva seals the envelope. Something tangible from your world travels through machines and hands, and deposits itself in another’s mailbox. Your letter is then carried inside as an invited guest. The paper that was sitting on your desk, now sits on another’s. The recipient handles the paper that you handled. Letters create a connection that modern, impersonal forms of communication will never approach.
Read more: The Art of Letter Writing
Tired of guillotining or roll-cutting letter-size paper to make classic-size forms for your D*I*Y Planner? Go to your local big-box office supply store or printer, buy a 500-page pack of paper, and they'll slice it in half for you for a few dollars. Some places, especially those also specializing in printing, might also be able to punch the holes too.
Going into a meeting with a lot of people, and you just know that the topics will jump around quite a bit? Bring in a small stack of index cards, and create one per note-taking topic. When a previously-discussed topic comes up again, simply shuffle back and keep adding to the appropriate card. By the end of the meeting, all your notes will be topic-specific and as coherent as possible.
There's plenty of little things we think of here that aren't meaty enough for a full article, but that might help the odd reader and perhaps instigate a little discussion. To that end, we'd like to introduce a new feature here on DIYPlanner: Quick Tips. These will be posted several times a week, and will run the gamut from pens and notebooks to creative techniques to digital productivity. (Hey, we analog luddites do occasionally use computers, too, or else you wouldn't be reading these words.) So, our first official Quick Tip:
Like the freedom of writing on an unlined page, but your words start tipping to an angle the further down the page you write? Take a tip from old-style blank writing pads. These generally come with a lined page you could slip under your current page, and there would be just enough hint of lines to keep your writing even and on track. If you don’t have such a lined page for your paper or journal, use Ygor’s dynamic templates to generate lined note pages with the line spacing and thickness that works best for you.
Do you have a quick tip? Email it to diyplanner -@AT@- gmail dot com!
Sorry for the blip, folks. We had a hardware issue but good ole' Patrick came through yet again and made the world right.
While I'm here, it's time I gave you fine folks a little update on my mysterious disappearance and what's coming up. Nothing to do with a clever anti-analog campaign by the digirati, nor an insidious blackmail attempt by those planner companies hawking non-free templates. Although either would have been a pleasant distraction.
In my day-job, I lead the new media division of a mid-sized marketing/ communications company in Canada's far north. Many of our clients have a March 31st deadline for their projects if government funding is involved in any way, and typically we could have a dozen or so large projects clogging our pipes from January till the end of March. This year we had several times that, and boy, were we busy. Not just insanely busy, but 'how the heck are we even dreaming of doing all that work' busy. But I have an efficient and dedicated team with talents I couldn't even begin to laud, and they came through once again, delivering great work on time and on budget. So now the craziness is over, and we can all rush madly to the bathroom stalls and urinals and heave great collective sighs of relief.