Monday, January 9, 2012

On Writing Utensils, Again

Here is how one science fiction writer, Tobias Buckell, uses his computer. It's some evidence how the implements or utensils can influence how you work. Having had difficulties with pens, he says:
My ability to write doubled when my mother gave me her Brother typewriter. It had 4 lines on a screen that would queue up before typing, and I still to this day type 4 lines, then go back and proof those 4 lines before continuing on.
Whether this has an influence on what he writes is, of course, a different story.

He now uses a Mac. OmniOutliner, DevonThink and TextEdit are his main applications. Writing by hand plays a small role.[2]

The setup is interesting — at least to me! The OmniOutlner/TextEdit setup does not just seem to reproduce Scrivener's Project management features (minus cork board) but improve on it (because OmniOutliner is a much more powerful Outliner than the one built into Scrivener). And the DevonThink component corresponds to my use of ConnectedText. I don't see any obvious way to integrate OmniOutliner with Ulysses, however. In fact, the "Mac-way" of favoring applications that do not allow access to the file structure is beginning to grate on me.

One other question occurs to me in connection with Buckell's post: Do software applications qualify as "writing implements"? We "use" implements, but writing software is also a medium or, perhaps better, ... (actually nothing better occurs to me at the moment!)

1. See also this earlier post on how he wrote an earlier novel
. 2. The error thrown by the DevonThink WebSite does not seem to be my fault. It happens consistently, no matter which of their pages I reference.


Anonymous said...


The blog post you linked to for Buckell was an older one, so I got to wondering if he'd come around to Scrivener... and apparently he has, as this newer post indicates:

"The most important piece of software on this computer that you’ll pry from my cold, dead, hands."


MK said...

Interesting. I had not seen that.

He unwittingly also makes my point about software being different from utensils. How would you pry a "piece of software" on a computer from anyone's, "cold, dead, hands" or even from his warm living ones. It's not the kind of thing that you can handle that way.

MK said...

See also this entry.

also, I did not know that OmniOutliner inspired the Scrivener outliner.