September 21

Visualizing as a Reader [Books]

Here’s a question for you: What do you see when you read a story? Is it just the words on the page, or do you picture the setting and characters? Does a lot of description help your imagination, or do you prefer sparse description so you can fill in the blanks with your imagination?

As a reader, I’m not a big fan of too much description. I like to know the lay of the land, but with a brief summary. I don’t need to know the patterns on the furniture or the wattage of the lightbulbs in the table lamps. In a way, it seems like overcompensation by the writer. Woman reading a book in bed.

If I had a choice, I’d prefer to read a story with little description rather than too much. I like to be an active reader, to pause as I’m reading and allow the scene, the sights and smells, to come together in my mind. 

Of course, it also depends on the story. Some stories call for more description. Fantasy and science fiction, for example, deal with different worlds, creatures, magic, and alien technology. In these cases, more description can help the reader to immerse themselves into the story.

When I first started writing fiction, I thought it was important to go into as much detail as possible. I’d describe my character’s hair, eye color, height, weight, shoe size, favorite color, what they had for dinner the night before. Well, not all of that, but you get the idea. It made my stories bloated and dense. 

The more I read, however, the more I learned about what I liked as a reader. In turn, I began applying these things to what I wrote. As the saying goes, write stories that you want to read. I think it would be better phrased as, write stories that you would enjoy reading. Young boy reading a book.

This brings me back to visualization. When I write fiction, I do picture my characters in my mind, but I try not to convey too much of that to the page. I want my readers to picture them the way they want to. When I write about a young woman with dark hair, the reader can imagine her as being white, Black, Hispanic, or Asian. I think it allows the reader to better immerse themselves if they can see who they want to see, instead of being forced to see what’s in my head.

Do you have a preference when it comes to reading stories? Do you like to be an active reader, filling in the blanks with your imagination? Or do you like to have the writer paint the picture for you? I’m curious to know.

RB

September 10

Living in a Bubble [Mental Health]

Depending on where you live in the world, COVID may or may not be a pressing issue. What I mean is that some areas are handling the virus with common sense. The majority of the population in these places has been vaccinated, people are wearing masks in public, adhering to social distancing, and the numbers of infected remain low.

Then there’s here, where I live. Things are frightening. Two days ago I read that one of our two local hospitals has started bringing in refrigerated trucks to hold the deceased because the morgue is full. And they’ve also canceled all non-emergency procedures. And they’re running out of beds and staff, who are quitting due to the overwhelming number of cases.

woman inside a bubbleBecause of this, I’ve been living in a bubble. I’ve been vaccinated, but I know that I can still carry and transmit the virus. I don’t want to have to live with the guilt of knowing I got someone else sick, especially if it kills them. Plus, I know that I can still get sick from COVID. Not as badly as the unvaccinated, but I don’t want to go through that, even a mild case.

Living in this bubble has been interesting. Luckily, I work from home, so I don’t have much reason to leave the house, except for grocery shopping and taking my mutts to the vet every so often. I’m comfortable with that. I have stacks of books to read, stories to write, games to play. I don’t have to worry about getting dressed up, I only wear shoes maybe once a week, and I get to spend a lot of time playing with my dogs.

Of course, this also means a lack of human interaction. I have Zoom video meetings a few times a day with coworkers, which is okay, but it’s not quite the same as a face-to-face discussion. And I have five minutes to talk to the cashier at the grocery store. And, well, that’s about it.

Now, keep in mind that I’m not what you’d consider a social butterfly. I enjoy small get-togethers, good conversation, adult beverages, but I’m not one to necessarily seek it out.

After a year and a half of distancing, it’s interesting to note that I miss those small gatherings. It’s the conversation, mostly, hearing about other people’s interesting adventures and excursions. Hearing them describe things, conversations they’ve had, things they’ve overheard. Basically, hearing other people tell their stories.

There’s something about the oral tradition of storytelling. At parties, dinners, backyard cookouts, people relay their personal short stories, their creative non-fictions. Humans have been doing this for millennia. The main difference being that now we stand around a gas grill rather than squat around a campfire.Photo of campfire at night

Living in a bubble removes my exposure to that continuing tradition. It’s unfortunate, but necessary at the moment. Luckily, I still have my partner sharing her stories with me, coworkers who involve me in side conversations on a video call once a meeting ends, and there are podcasts. So many podcasts.

That all helps to fill the void. But yet, I look forward to when things get back to some semblance of normalcy. I’ll enjoy hearing voices first-hand, picking up on the nuances of body language, sharing laughs and gasps, immersing myself in those interesting stories.

Stay safe.

RB

August 16

Music Moment – Elderly Woman Behind the Counter…[Music]

As one of the main bands to bring the early 90s Seattle sound – aka Grunge – to the mainstream, Pearl Jam has always been a constant member of my many playlists. Their sound is unique, recognizable, and their songs always feel as if they’re painting a mood or telling a story.

One of my favorite songs of theirs is Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town. To me, it falls into both categories. It’s a story song, giving the listener a glimpse into the life of an elderly woman living in a small town, probably spent her entire life working in the same old diner, and realizing the one of her customers is an old acquaintance who just returned to town. Older waitress in a diner

At the same time, the lyrics invoke a mood of melancholy. It’s a song of missed opportunity, regret, lost chances, and resignation. Yet, does the old woman really regret her life, or is she simply accepting her fate?

Eddie Vedder, the lead singer and lyricist for the band, also has a unique voice. His style reminds me of Jim Morrison, the late singer for The Doors. There’s a rawness, a natural flow, to the words. They aren’t necessarily traditional in the rhythms or rhyme schemes, and they have a rawness that appeals to me.

Here are the lyrics. Give them a read, then check out the video link that follows. The song is a brilliant mesh or words and music, evoking a scene that is bittersweet and touching.

Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town

I seem to recognize your face
Haunting, familiar, yet I can’t seem to place it
Cannot find the candle of thought to light your name
Lifetimes are catching up with me

All these changes taking place, I wish I’d seen the place
But no one’s ever taken me
Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away…
Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away…

I swear I recognize your breath
Memories like fingerprints are slowly raising
Me, you wouldn’t recall, for I’m not my former
It’s hard when, you’re stuck upon the shelf

I changed by not changing at all, small town predicts my fate
Perhaps that’s what no one wants to see
I just want to scream…hello…

My god its been so long, never dreamed you’d return
But now here you are, and here I am
Hearts and thoughts they fade…away…
Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away…
Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away…

Hearts and thoughts they fade…away
Hearts and thoughts they fade…away

Lyrics and Music by Pearl Jam

 

RB

August 6

Inspiration from Others [Writing]

A few of the stories I’ve written, or drafted, were inspired by things I read elsewhere. For example, there’s a song by Black Sabbath titled “Neon Knights“, which I turned into a short story about, well, neon knights. It’s only made it to the first-draft phase, but it has potential as an interesting fantasy/sci-fi mash up.

Neon Knight from Black Sabbath album coverThat wasn’t the first or only time that happened. There have been other song titles and lyrics that have sparked an idea, as well as book titles, chapter titles, and even a sentence or phrase from something else I’ve read. There’s something about these little combinations of words, once read or heard, that ignites a creative fire in my imagination.

But then, I always feel guilty about it. For some reason, it makes me feel like I’m stealing something from the original artist. I know, silly, right? In fact, I’d be flattered if I found out that someone created something after being inspired by something that I created. That has to be the highest compliment an artist can receive.

The problem I run into is that I find these little embers of inspiration everywhere. I see them in the stories I read, the music I hear, the world around me. I see a red-tailed hawk perched on a high branch in my back yard and wonder about him. What does he see from up there? What is he thinking? What has he experienced? All that begins to form a story in my mind.

I even find inspiration simply sitting at a stoplight. I look at the people sitting in the cars around me, watch them briefly (so they don’t get freaked out), and wonder about their lives. Where are they going? Where are they coming from? Why does that woman look sad? Why is that little boy bouncing around in the backseat like a billy goat? Brain jumping rope

Occasionally, these spontaneous ideas are worth writing down so I remember them later. Most, however, are just exercises in creativity. Mental improv. A way to pass the time while stuck in traffic on a hot August afternoon.

The downside is that I have a ridiculous number of ideas scattered about on various notepads, envelopes, and scraps of paper. One of these days (ha!) I’ll have to try and organize them. Or at least put them all in the same place. More than likely, I’ll continue to jot them down and stick them in a drawer on in my jacket pocket so I can discover them again someday and be inspired to write something.

RB

July 29

What if it Sucks? [Creativity]

We all wonder this. Anyone who creates anything has this thought every once in a while. I do, as well. I have an idea that I’m excited about, I work on it, maybe a first draft, maybe two. Then that self-doubt creeps in. Is this any good? Will anyone read it? Like it? Tell their friends? Leave a good review?

It can be a downward spiral from there. What’s the point if no one is going to like this story, or even read it? Am I just writing into a void? Should I give up and do something else?

As creators, this type of thinking can kill our motivation. It leads us down a dark path where we get lost amid all the questions, doubts, and fears. Writer resting head on keyboard

Some of us have it worse than others. It depends on the amount of self-confidence you already have in play, coupled with how much support you receive, and how people have reacted to your previous output. We’re human, we can’t help it. Our brains are both our biggest ally and our greatest enemy.

If you’ve listened to my podcast, you might already know how I feel about this. The problem, in my opinion, is that we put too much emphasis on what other people think of us and our work. We gauge success and failure by other people’s reactions. We base our self worth as artists, even as people, on whether or not something likes our output. We even compare ourselves to our peers. Am I doing better than them? Then I’m successful. Are they doing better than me? Then I’ve failed.

That’s bullshit thinking.

The ONLY persoFingers on laptop keyboardn whose opinion you need to worry about it your own. That’s it.

Is this something you would enjoy reading, viewing, or listening to? If yes, then you’re successful. That’s all there is to it. Don’t worry if other people think it sucks. Whatever they may feel or think about it doesn’t really matter. It’s not a fact, it’s their opinion. Art, like humor, is subjective. I may laugh at something that you don’t find funny, just like you may love a book that I found boring. And remember, opinions are like assholes…everybody has one.

This all stems from a recent online conversation I had with someone about a story they’re working on. They wanted to give up because someone else, a friend of theirs, read an early draft and said it sucked. Based solely on that opinion, this writer was ready to give up, chuck it all away and move on to something else.

Luckily, I was able to talk them off the ledge. I basically told them what I wrote above and I reiterated one of my mantras: Write for yourself. Yes, I know, we all want an audience of faithful readers who hang on our every word. The truth is, that may never happen. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of writers out there writing stories they hope will get noticed. Some will, some won’t, but in the end it doesn’t matter if the writers are doing it for themselves. As long as you’re writing something that appeals to you, that you’d pick up in a bookstore and read, then you’ve won.

Writing is a lonely profession. We do it alone, just us and our imaginations, and sometimes we really need the validation of someone else to motivate and inspire us. I get it. I’m the same way. But you shouldn’t base your worth as a writer, or as a person, on what other people think. Make yourself happy, first. A happy writer is a good writer. A good writer will find an audience. Just be patient.

RB

 

July 27

Carnivorous Plant Update [Nature]

It was ridiculously dry here in North Florida this past spring. We’ve gone for weeks without a single drop. At least at my house. My partner and I have watched storm fronts plowing their way towards our location, only to see them dissipate or break around us. We joke that someone built a dome over our part of town. I blame Mr. Burns.

But Tropical Storm Claudette seems to have broken the dry streak. She made landfall hours to the west of here a month or so ago, but the majority of the rain was on the east side of the storm (as it is with most tropical systems) and we finally got some rain. And then every single day. My yard is transforming into a jungle.

Which is great. Especially for my carnivorous plants. My big pitcher plants were in rough shape and my smaller plants – flytraps, sundews, and small pitchers – were struggling. Even my rain barrel was bone dry. I was getting desperate.

A bit of rainfall made a huge difference. The big plants are still recovering, but the small ones are thriving.

I think my little shop of horrors is going to be damp and happy for the foreseeable future. In fact, I’m so happy about their recovery I thought I’d share some recent photos of my little shop of horrors.

Flytraps

I picked up a new flytrap last year from California Carnivores and he (or she?) is doing great. Lush and green and gobbling up little insects. The brown traps are ones that are used up. Meaning, they’ve caught at least one insect, no more than two, and now the plant discards the trap and develops new ones. Venus fly trap

But what I’m most happy about is this little one on the right side of the screen. I’ve had this flytrap for over five years, but this past spring was especially rough on it. I thought it had died off, but I left the pot alone because I still had hope. Carnivorous plants, although somewhat difficult to take care of, can also be surprisingly resilient. Venus fly trap

And I wasn’t disappointed. About two weeks ago I noticed a tiny bit of green poking up through the moss. Now it looks like it’s on the way to a full recovery!

Pitchers

These guys are my small Nepenthes and Sarracenia pitchers. Both are new additions to my patio. These guys grow low on the ground in the wild. I have them because I love the colors and patterns on the pitchers.

Pitcher plant and sundewThe one on the left, with the companion sundew, will have to be transplanted once the weather cools. Winter dormancy is the time to uproot them or take cuttings. The sundew was a bonus. I had ordered the pitcher, but the sundew suddenly appeared and almost took over the pot.

This one has beautiful coloring and, judging from the dead/dying pitchers, has been eating well. In fact, if you check out the second photo you’ll see a recent victim.

Pitcher plantInsect floating in pitcher

 

I have a few more members of the ensemble, but I’ll save them for the next post. I hope you enjoyed seeing these unique plants. Remember, carnivorous plants are protected, so please don’t dig them up if you find them in the wild. If you’re interested in adding a few to your garden, please do your research first and buy from a reputable dealer.

If you have any questions or comments, you can post them below.

RB

 

July 20

Music Moment – Year of the Cat [Music]

If you’ve read a few of my other Music Moment posts, you know that I love story songs. You know, where the lyrics meld with the music to tell a story. Most songs are about conveying a feeling, an emotion, or setting a mood, which is fine, but I guess it’s the storyteller in me that likes the lyrics to take me on a journey.

“Year of the Cat” is one of those songs. Originally released by Al Stewart in 1976, this song immediately captured my attention. The arrangement begins slow and dreamy, then gently leads into the lyrics.

I think one of the reasons, or perhaps the main reason, the lyrics strike a chord with me is because they remind me of one of my favorite movies, Casablanca. The setting for the song feels like it takes place in someplace like Morocco or Tunisia. I always picture white buildings with brightly painted doors and stalls lining the narrow streets. It also helps that the lyrics actually reference Bogart and Lorre, who both starred in the movie.

The basic story is a man, a tourist, who gets lost in this strange city and meets a beautiful local woman who whisks him away on an adventure. He falls in love with her knowing that he can’t stay forever, but despite that, he plans to make the most of the time they spend together.

Lyrically, Stewart has a poetic flair. His descriptions of the setting, the woman, the way the man feels as this person leads him through the mystical nightlife and back alleys of the city, all weave together to beautifully. Even without the music, the lyrics stand up quite nicely on their own.

Musically, the song is a great mix of soft acoustics and, later, a driving guitar solo. But even though the song slowly builds to a crescendo, it quickly returns to a soft flow on the notes of a saxophone.

I’ve included the lyrics here and a link to the song below. I hope you give it a listen and find it just a magical, and mysterious, as I do. For what it’s worth, this song gives me chills every time I listen to it.

On a morning from a Bogart movie
In a country where they turn back time
You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre
Contemplating a crime
She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running
Like a watercolor in the rain
Don’t bother asking for explanations
She’ll just tell you that she came
In the year of the cat

She doesn’t give you time for questions
As she locks up your arm in hers
And you follow ’till your sense of which direction
Completely disappears
By the blue tiled walls near the market stalls
There’s a hidden door she leads you to
These days, she says, I feel my life
Just like a river running through
The year of the cat

While she looks at you so cooly
And her eyes shine like the moon in the sea
She comes in incense and patchouli
So you take her, to find what’s waiting inside
The year of the cat

Well morning comes and you’re still with her
And the bus and the tourists are gone
And you’ve thrown away your choice you’ve lost your ticket
So you have to stay on
But the drum-beat strains of the night remain
In the rhythm of the newborn day
You know sometime you’re bound to leave her
But for now you’re going to stay
In the year of the cat

Note: YouTube is being finicky with the embedding permissions, so you may have to watch the video on YouTube.

RB

July 16

Book Review – Buddhism Without Beliefs [Books]

I’ve been a follower of Buddhist philosophy for over twenty-five years. Not the religious aspect of it. I can do without that. But the philosophy behind it, the way to look at life, at the people around me, my perception of my world, that all appeals to me. And although I’m far from perfect, I try to adhere to the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path as best I can.Person meditatingI’ve read quite a few books about Buddhism, as well. Of course, they’ve all been written from a religious angle. So when I’ve worked on educating myself, I’ve had to focus on the rational points and read the spiritual more like mythology. What I’ve been looking for is a book that doesn’t denigrate the religion, but would allow me to better understand the real teachings, the words the Buddha taught without filter and interpretation.

Luckily, I stumbled upon Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor. Here I found what I’d been looking for, a simple deconstruction of Buddhism with a focus on the philosophy. Buddhism Without Beliefs book cover.

At a simple 115 pages (plus a few more covering sources), Batchelor argues that the Buddha never set out to create a religion. Instead, he simply wanted to help people better themselves and the world around them through a handful of basic tenets. No gods or goddesses, no spirituality, just a focus on understanding how we can improve ourselves mentally and better adapt to the world around us.

I posted earlier this week about a line from the book that resonated with me, and that was only one of dozens that stuck with me.

Batchelor, a practicing Buddhist, trained in monasteries and has been teaching for decades. I found his insight to be extraordinary. He gently, and without denigration, breaks down the how’s and why’s of Buddhist teachings, stripping away the religious aspects to reveal a simple and easily understood path to understanding ourselves.

Even if you aren’t religious, or are a following of a specific dogma, Buddhism Without Beliefs can still have something for you. Outside of meditation and practice, there is a lot of practical points that can help you to calm your inner turmoil, help you understand your actions and reactions, and maybe even bring you some peace of mind.

Brain and heart on balance scale.I highly recommend this book. Like I mentioned above, it’s a quick read, but even so, there’s a lot to unpack. Give it a try and see what speaks to you. You have nothing to lose, but so much to gain.

“So what are we but the story we keep repeating, editing, consoling, and embellishing in our heads?” – Stephen Batchelor

RB

July 12

A Little Motivation [Creativity]

“Commitment to the most worthy purpose is of little value if we lack confidence in our ability to realize it.”

– Stephen Batchelor, Buddhism Without Beliefs

I’ve been reading the aforementioned book the past few days, and this line stuck out to me. I read it several times because it resonated and made me think about my commitment to writing fiction.

I think one thing that many writers struggle with is confidence. Not just with themselves and their ability to tell a good story, but also confidence in the stories themselves, the characters we create, the plots and dialogue. There’s always that little voice in the back of our heads whispering, “Are you sure?”. Man with question marks over his head.

I’ve been writing a long time, probably close to forty years. I’ve written a lot of stories, some good and some bad, but regardless of the outcomes I continue to do it. Out of, say, one-hundred stories, maybe twenty or thirty were what I would consider good. The rest, well, I’ve categorized them as practice pieces.

And yet, I still doubt myself and my abilities. Why? Hard to say for sure, but there are arguably several reasons. First and foremost, I didn’t get much support for my writing until I was in my late twenties. Mostly I was told it was a cute hobby and that I should focus on something real so I can set my sights on a ‘real’ job. Either that, or my creative output was ignored.

Despite that lack of support, I continued to write. Doubt was always there, looking over my shoulder, whispering in my ear, but I persevered. The stories and poems were in my head, and I transferred them to the page. Even when I felt no one cared and that I was writing in a vacuum, I kept at it.

Why? Because I was committed to it. I love to write, I love to tell stories, to paint pictures with words. The thing that helped the most was when I decided that I was going to write for myself. What I mean is, I decided to stop worrying about what others thought, or if they even cared, and wrote things that I wanted to read.

That the reason my stories cross genres. My reading preferences are all over the place – fiction, non-fiction, weird fiction, speculative, horror, fantasy, cyberpunk, literary, historical – and in turn that influences my writing.

Once I realized I didn’t have to receive acknowledgement from others I found a new sense of freedom in writing. I became more confident. Sure, there’s still that whisper in my ear, but now I ignore it, swat it away and focus on the page in front of me. I can do it written on paper.

It doesn’t matter where you are with your creativity. Doesn’t matter if you’re a writer, a painter, a songwriter. We’re all going to doubt ourselves, some more than others, but we can’t let it stop us. We have to stay committed, focused, and continue to do what we love. That’s all that matters. Doing something you love.

When you think about giving up, tossing your laptop in the trash, going back to binge-watching something on television, remember this: you don’t have to listen to that negative voice in your head. You have one lifetime, a handful of decades, to enjoy yourself, so why not do the things you love? Be creative, be silly, experiment, try new things.

Don’t let doubt stop you from expressing yourself. Be committed to your creativity.

RB

July 2

What’s the Best Writing Tool? [Writing]

This is one of those topics that can be contentious. There are so many tools available to the modern writer that it can be overwhelming. I can’t promise you that I’ll answer all your questions. However, I think I can provide you with some valid options and, hopefully, help you make an informed decision.

First, when I refer to writing tools, I mean things that help the writer get a story from their head onto the page. Also, I’m not necessary endorsing any particular tool. I’ll cover the ones I’ve used over the years and offer suggestions based on my experience.

Pencils and Pens

Why not start off with a nod to old school writing tools? There’s something to be said for writing the way writers used to do it. To me, writing on paper with a pen or pencil is more organic. It makes me feel like Hemingway or Faulkner and that I should be sitting in a cafe somewhere sipping Cuban coffee.

Hand writing with pen.I also feel more connected to the words on the page when I write freehand. Sure, my hand gets tired much faster than my fingers so when typing, but that doesn’t deter me. If you’ve never written this way I suggest you give it a try. I doubt it’s going to change your life, or your preferred mode of writing, but I think you’ll find it fun and engaging.

Audio Recording

No, that’s not a typo. I’ve read of several authors who never put pen to paper. Instead, they carry a tape recorder or digital voice recorder and simply narrate their story. Later, they’ll either transcribe it themselves – typing it into their computer – or have an assistant do it. Once it’s on the PC (or Mac), they can edit to their heart’s content. Man speaking into tape recorder.

I’ve never tried this, but it sounds interesting. I know that I often work out stories in my head while I’m doing something like taking a walk with the dogs or fiddling about in the backyard. In a way, it’s sort of like telling myself the story. So it makes sense that I could carry a voice recorder with me and talk it out stream-of-consciousness style.

My only concern would be the neighbors thinking I’m weirder than they already do.

Also, keep in mind that most smartphones and tablets come with voice recorders built in. All you have to do is transcribe it later. Or pay someone to do it for you.

Computer Software

Honestly, there are far too many writing software options out there for me to adequately cover them all. However, I will tell you about a few that I use, and have used, and what I think about them.

Obviously, there’s Microsoft Word and Apple Pages. Both are fully-capable word processors and both are free (Pages comes free with most Apple devices; Word has paid versions and a free online version). I tend to use Pages more since I write on a MacBook, but I’ve used Word almost as much in office settings.

I think they both have their pros and cons, but for fiction writing I really don’t like to use either one. I find them to offer too many options and sometimes dealing with formatting can be a pain in the ass. When something on the page doesn’t line up correctly I end up spending WAY too much time trying to figure it out.

Typing on a MacBookOne of the nicer, all-purpose writing programs is Scrivener. It’s not your ordinary word processor. It’s incredibly robust and designed to be used by writers. Scrivener comes with templates for novels, short stories, scripts, and even poetry, and it’s a great tool for formatting ebooks.

However, much like Word and Pages, I find it distracting to write with when I’m working on early drafts. Again, too many options, too many bells and whistles. I often use it towards the end of my writing arc, for laying out short story collections and getting my work ready for print. I’ve been using it for years and recommend that every writer have a copy of this software on their hard drive.

Probably my favorite writing program is called FocusWriter. This is my go-to for first drafts, second drafts, everything up to the final. It’s an incredibly clean interface and you can set it so there are no distractions, no tool bars, no buttons, no pop-ups. Just you and the blank screen.

The other cool thing is that it has some simple customizations to help make your writing experience more engaging. For example, it offers a couple of different themes for the screen. I use the solid black with green font color…sort of like an old computer monitor. It also keeps track of your word count and has a spell checker.

The best part, however, is that you can set daily goals for yourself. You can set it for minutes or number of words, and the program will tell you when you hit that goal each day. I use this when I feel I’m slipping out of my routine and it helps to keep me on track.

Oh, and the very best part…FocusWriter is open-source, so it’s free (although I encourage you to make a donation to the developer).

There You Have It

Every writer has their preference when it comes to their writing tools. But I think it’s important for us to try new things every so often. It helps to keep us from getting complacent. Or bored.

For me, I use a variety of tools. I think of writing like other manual labor jobs, like construction. You have certain tools for certain jobs. I use pencil and paper when writing poetry, Word or Pages for business writing, and FocusWriter and Scrivener for fiction.

The change of scenery will do you good. Try a new tool every so often and see how it affects your writing.

RB