The month of March was pretty busy and wild because of the Wikimedia Summit and the ongoing policy process of the EU copyright law, so this blog went more silent than usual for a few weeks. Since April will not only be my birthday month, but also it is, because of CampNaNo, the first month in a year, where I try to focus on my writings, I want to share my writing set-up on this blog. Whenever I talk about writing, people (read: computer science nerds who also happen to be writers) ask about my writing habits and my set-up. So this one is for you.
For a long time I sported a full-size A1243 Apple Keyboard, which is still one of my favorites. Though it is not a my preferred writing keyboard anymore, since it is too distracting and gives too little tactile feedback.
I kind of love writing on typewriters, since it feels better than most of the modern keyboards with rubber/scissor switches. But since I’m also a 21th century digital girl (sorry for that bad religion reference), I don’t want to use a typewriter for my novelist work, since I do too much editing for that becoming a habit.
What I mean by distraction is that it’s layout has a numblock as well as separate functions keys as well as media keys and arrow keys. When I’m writing, I use none of them, so I don’t want to have them on my keyboard.
Since 30% is way too small & unhandy when it comes to special characters, and 65%/70% layouts may lack of a numblock, but are still running into the problem of having keys I do not plan to have, 60% is a good size for writing to me.
My Customized Anne Pro
My keyboard of choice for writing is a 60% mechanical keyboard, the Anne Pro. I use Cherry MX Blue switches for writing, since they’ve got that clicky feedback whenever one has hit the actuation point and actually do feel a bit like those old beige keyboards I learned to type on in the early 2000s.
Instead of using the stock keycaps, I went for aftermarket keycaps mainly due to aesthetics reasons, since I really love the colors pink and purple and wanted my keyboard to fit into the aesthetics of my writers desk.
I know that 10$ aftermarket keycaps aren’t the overall best choice for writing, and that there are fancyer keycaps, but they work for me and that’s the only thing that matters.
Software for Writing
I use a personal wiki to do the most of my planning work. I wanted to go all paper bullet journal since I really love the way they work out for friends of mine and for lovely people in my polycule, but I had to admit, that they’re simply not my cup of tea (and that I collect other notebooks uhm… ThinkPads instead).
Usually I plan my writing projects creating a index page for each project, and sub-pages to fill them with information on world building, characters or timelines of the plot.
The text editor of my choice is vim, since it’s entirely usable via keyboard (I really don’t like to use mouses), pretty distraction free and customizable. I use a few plug-ins giving me auto-indents at each paragraphs beginning, showing an actual wordcount in the status bar on the bottom of the screen and in terms of a theme, a solarized-dark one is my way to go.
Vanessa Guedes wrote about using git as a writer in her 2015 article Git for writers: Write fiction like a (good) programmer on medium. There’s not too much more to add to that awesome article, than a thank you to its author!
Writing is actually a lot of work, and self-care is a pretty important part of my writing routine, so here are my favorite things to do as self-care during or after writing.
Spacekookie introduced me to Snuggies during last years congress. Ever since, those blankets with sleeves have become a crucial part of my writing routine. I mean, a life without Snuggies would be as empty and artic cold as a empty .md file before writing. They’re everything I could’ve ever asked for, comfy, a blanket and they look like a witches robe.
Most of my relationships are long-distanced but writing together on different things is one of the most intimate things I could think of. Especially since it’s such a good feeling knowing that the person who joined you on a writing adventure knows exactly how it feels to cry all November long, trying to hide all the unfinished novels under your writing desk.
I love playing 90s/early 2000s RPGs since it’s a nice feeling having a context switch on one hand, but still having to think about character building and fiction on the other. Role playing games are usually helping me to cool down from a session, and to get the headspace again to keep on writing.