Free Stuff for NaNoWriMo

I should have known it was all going to go horribly wrong the moment I got on the plane. It wasn’t just the person on the left of me was snuffling. The person on the right was as well. As was the person in front of me and the person behind. As we took off the sounds of coughing and sneezing drowned out the engines. I could practically feel the cloud of unhealth settle on me. Father Nurgle has blessed me once more.

There was not a lot of NaNoWriMoing done last week. As of yesterday I had completed 36522 words. Looking back at last weeks blog post I can see I had managed 28000 or so. That means in seven days I’ve done roughly 8500 words. In my defence I will say there was a lot of family visiting, a lot of time spent in airports and a lot of time spent walking in the cold rain, cultivating the germs my fellow travellers on the Airbus so helpfully gave me.

This has been a useful reminder that not all drops in word count productivity have to do with writers block or the torture of being a true artist looking for the perfect place to put that so-important comma. This NaNoWriMo I have frolicked through 6000 words in an afternoon. I’ve also had days when 1700 words were trench warfare in bloody mud. The difference being that in the first case I was healthy and in the second case I was a snuffling, gurgling, sore-throated mass of disease spores.

On the plus side, during my trip The Roost Stand and Alphasmart Dana performed exactly as advertised. They were portable, rugged and very useful from an ergonomic point of view.

Writing sprints continue to be the revelation of this NaNoWriMo month. I would never have thought it possible that I could get so much done so easily. I’ve always thought I needed at least half an hour to get myself into a writing frame of mind. I was wrong. Five or ten minutes can be enough if I approach it in the right way.

And now for a public service announcement. If you are reading this on a laptop or tablet, I urge you to consider it not as a useful piece of portable electronics but as the ergonomic time-bomb it really is. Don’t wait until, like me, you are the proud recipient of numb arms, pins and needles and episodic vertigo brought on by spinal compression. Do something now.

I point you to the following bits of free software. I find them useful for forcing sensible practises on me. Both remind you to take breaks at reasonable intervals. Both can alert you to take minor breaks as well as longer term ones.

Workrave is my favourite of the two. Its for Windows and Linux. It looks less pretty than its Mac equivalent but it has more functionality. It plays you little videos showing useful exercises during your breaks.

Time Out is for the Mac and is a lot prettier. I tend to set it so that the over-ride buttons are not visible which forces me to step away from the keyboard.

I have installed these bits of software on all my machines now. They make me take one or two minute breaks every ten minutes and 10 minute breaks every half an hour. This also serves a useful function for timing my writing sprints and pomodoros so it fits in well with my workflow. It takes a little getting used to the way the programs break up your flow but the long term benefits make it worthwhile.

There’s some other stuff to report. I picked up a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 in the airport duty free store. First impressions are favourable but it deserves a review of its own. I also saw Interstellar in the IMAX. That’s three hours of my life I won’t be getting back. It needs an incoherent, spoiler-and-rage-filled rant to do its fractal stupidity (thank you for the phrase, Mr Mooney) justice and I am just too sick. Also I have to get back to NaNoWriMo.

Back next week for my final report on the event.


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Comments

  1. I’m so sorry you got sick. I know you don’t remember me but I contacted you about the cover for my book a few months ago. You really helped me a lot and the book is now published. It’s epublished but I hope to someday see it in hard copy. Thank you for your help.

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