Aaron Cael

Tag: process

Process Summary


I have an envy and awe for writers who do it longhand. Sure, they are mostly dead or (I suspect) lying but having one medium, one channel for catching thoughts, to-dos, note taking, developing ideas, sketching and writing has a definite appeal. I take a lot of notes on little folded pieces of paper and write in a variety of paper journals but often that becomes more of a long-term thought buffer for ideas that were intended in the moment of their conception as a something to act on immediately.

Similarly, I throw a lot of junk into Evernote that I never look at again. All the starred items from my RSS readers (yes, plural… I have yet to find a mobile one that suits me) end up there, typically never to be looked at again. There’s also the Send-To-Kindle button for long form things which do get read and marked up with notes (see the intense man in gray furiously thumbing his battered 3rd Gen Kindle Keyboard on the train) but those notes are stored in such an obtuse format and synched to nothing and nowhere (Amazon: the features you want, just implemented in a terminally awkward manner)

What I need is to be seeing more Interesting Things in the time when I am otherwise searching for novelty by sifting through the internet. The piece that’s missing is some mildly intelligent app that pulls from these things and flings old notes back in my face to be reread and dealt with when I am sitting down with the time to do something about it. Perhaps it could be activated by a big physical button on my desktop labeled “I’m Starting to Fuck Around”. Further, it should sort the 80,000 things I’ve tagged #watchlater into a single channel, playing one after another, sorting the shorter blips together, and putting the longer stuff (>7min) on a sidebar for when I have some serious non-typing time in me.

Despite what my consumerist impulses tell me, personal history has taught me that the solution isn’t a new fancy piece of technology or a subscription to a service that I’ll not look at again but just a better arrangement of what I’m already using. A few settings tweaks and some bigger behavior tweaks. Take the time to arrange the pieces and go forth, yelling at the stupid little man at the controls somewhere inside my skull.

The first step, obviously, was writing this.



Worked (still working, actually) on the damn novel today for a few solid hours. Experimented with the sitting in a cafe full of other people typing on laptops thing. Went fairly well. This occurred at Cafe Grumpy in Greenpoint. Pretty good ambiance. What it’s got over the library is better hours of operation, no children and an obligation to be constantly pouring caffeine down my gullet as the price of being there.

Mostly a meta day. Organizing notes, putting already written pieces together and stitching them together with words. Did a massive overhaul of where everything sits, creating a good number more folders. The idea is to make it seem less like a big heap of gibberish and more like a clean streamlined process, like on cooking shows where they have all their ingredients pre-chopped and sitting in nice neat bowls, ready for the pan.

The new major categories that everything is filed in are:
+ A NewOrg (the actual novel, separated into files that roughly correspond to unequal sized chapters)
+ Acts and Threads (writing not yet organized into chapters but split into where it generally fits in the narrative, chronologically or thematically. both reference and holding tank for writing that will get pasted into chapters)
+ Characters (writing/notes specifically about one character or another. both reference and holding tank for writing that will get pasted into chapters)
+ META Things (inside baseball. talk about themes, design, marketing, to-dos, schedules, etc. no words that will actually turn up in the finished text.)
+ Notes and Components (writing that has yet to find a home, scraps of dialog, mulch for creating something)
+ Previous Schemas (obsolete means of organization. Scrivener files, old chapter systems, archives)
+ Tangents and Research (background material, things to consult, media diet)

To take it to the next level, I think I’m going to define the sort of files I like to have open and at the ready when I’m writing and whip up a macro to open them all at one go. I’m familiar with doing that on Windows but I’m still Automator illiterate, despite using Macs since ’04. Time to fix that.


Alright, time to actually write something, instead of just shoving at all around.