I’ve started taking screenshots of my word count for each day I write on Kill Dash Nine (KD9). Thought I’d share the link for you if you like such things. I also include my wristwatch in these shots, because I happen to like them.
Otherwise, you can follow me on Twitter @Johnny_Batch, where I post these pictures after taking them. You can also head over to my GitHub account from the link to the left and see what I wrote.
For the past week, I’ve been writing Kill Dash Nine in a text editor and saving my daily writing sessions by committing them to a code repository. This is pretty much what any programmer does on a daily basis. I’ve actually been coding a novel.
This is a short lesson learned post on how that is going for me. My initial issues seemed to be with what program to use to write my novel in text format. Text editors are serious business tools for programmers. Ask anyone who codes what editor they use and be prepared for some very opinionated answers. As someone who does a bit of coding for his job, I can tell you my favorite editor is Atom.
So it was with Atom that I started writing with this week. But code editors have to be modified to write prose. They don’t have standard features that word processors like Write and Word have for formatting and composing sentences instead of code. So I had to find the proper plugins and modify how the editor worked to suit my needs.
I was able to write in Atom without much difficulty, but I quickly realized that using the text format was not the ideal way to write a novel as a flat file. What I needed to be writing in was Markdown. Markdown or .md files are are a basically HTML files without all the crazy open and close tags. You simply put a # tag on your title to set it as an H1 font size. Once you learn these tags, you can write nicely formatted text that translates to HTML better than any .docx file and with none of the extraneous, proprietary junk that Word includes in every document.
This realization had me searching for a good Markdown editor that would work on Linux. I tried a few of them and settled on two – Caret and Remarkable. I could use either one, but for now, I’m using Caret now because I prefer how it looks.
The other program I’ve been using is GitKraken to commit my daily writing sessions to the GitHub repository. I use GitKraken at work every day and love it. So using it to store my writing is a natural fit. I commit my changes after every lunchtime writing session and this lets me comment on the changes I’ve made and lets me come back and see for every commit what scenes and chapters I wrote or modified. For stats junkies or anyone curious how a creative mind writes a story, those stats are very interesting.
Do I recommend every writer doing what I have done? No. Unless you are comfortable with using these tools and adapting your process to accommodate them. But if you’re a writer who also codes, you will be right at home doing things this way if you don’t already do so.
Caret Markdown editor.GitKraken Git client.
I haven’t written a mystery in a long time now. It’s not my primary genre to read or write. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about the next Joshua Jones book on a nearly daily basis. I’m always coming across interesting bits of information and jotting down notes. Usually those notes are saved online from either stories I’ve visited or research I’ve come across while online. But lately I’ve also started to compile old fashioned paper based notes into notebooks that are primarily used for journals.
For Kill Dash Nine (KD9) I’ve started such a notebook to capture my notes about characters, plot and locations. Anything related to the novel that I don’t want to forget, once I start writing. When I write a novel I usually follow an outline. I create this outline first and having it before me as I write helps keep the story flowing in the right direction and allows me to avoid writer’s block.
I write my novels these days using Google Docs. This allows me to use my primary laptop and a Chromebook backup laptop as needed. All my writing is backed up and in the cloud and updated instantly when online. It’s very convenient for my writing lifestyle. But it’s good to organize things on paper too.