Tag-arkiv: Working Methode

Languages Again

As ever I have trouble finding out which language to use when I write, and who knows, even when I think. I have been writing in English the last years, but I try to speak Danish in my normal life (not to mention the other languages that are running around somewhere in my head).
Lately I started writing some more things in Danish, and as I didn’t know where to put these on this English blog, I decided to add a wordpress.com blog in danish to it. Just to keep things gathered in the right places. I’ll just see what happens with it, as I don’t want to force me to use a certain language. When I read a book in Danish or Dutch, my natural reaction is to write about it in its language, and the same happens when I listen to a radio program, a video or whatever.

For now I decided to try not to worry about it, even though I know that as a result of changing languages none of them will perhaps be used in an eloquent way, but I will put my trust in the eventual power of simplicity. I have to.

I never liked fairy tales

(edit: I found this post from febr. 2008, written just before I started this blog. I might as well publish it here. I’ll write soon about how/why I found it)
H. C. Andersen. Source: Wikipedia

I never liked fairy tales, not even as a child. Yesterday I visited the H. C. Andersen museum in Odense and it didn’t really help me to change my mind. As a boy I liked the set-up of the stories, the athmosphere and questions that arose during the reading. I often was wondering how the story would end and how all problems would be solved. But the solutions that were offered to create an end to the stories were most of the times very unsatisfying. It was as if the writer didn’t know himself and just when it became interesting he or she created a witch or a fairy to do some magic and suddenly solve all unsolved endings. And they live happily ever after and got many children. Boom! End.

I had in mind that H.C. Andersen and the Grimm Brothers used old folk tales and other sources and I got the idea that those original sources might be more interesting than these uninspired endings.

During my visit to the museum yesterday I got the impression that H. C. Andersen was a hard working writer that gave almost everything in order to succeed. He tried many things to get his career going and apparently had the plan of producing as much as possible and hoping that something might work some day. This fits with my idea of the writer of the fairy tales being someone who knew how to write a story but who didn’t had much to add.

It is also interesting to make a comparison between all his travels and visits to the upper class of Europe, and an, especially in our days, often advised managment plan of making one’s name known by giving interviews, lectures and making as much noise as possible. His travel activities must have helped him making a career in writing, which might explain part of his fame.

According to the museum there are some reports of H. C. Andersen being unaware of the impression he made during these visits (most striking when visiting Charles Dickens) and probably unjustly combined with the fact that the seemed to be unsuccesful with woman I got the idea that he might have been a hard working man that had his mind set up on succeeding as a writer.
The texts of the exhibition gave the impression that he wasn’t perfectly happy about his private life. It must have been tough for the young H.C. to become anything at all considering his unfortunate background, so his determination must have been vital for him during the main part of his life. One wonders if it didn’t turn into an obsession that ruled his life a little too much to become happy. It is nice that people like his stories but it must have been even more important for him as a person to live a happy life.

What tools should I use to write?

There are many programs for writing and editing texts and most are good for anybody and anything. Because basically they all do one thing – they let you create texts.

As a writer you write, as an editor you edit and as a publisher you publish. The writer in you wants a tool that can create texts as quickly and easy as possible. Quick because when you are finally getting some good ideas or when the words are coming to your mind faster than you can type,  you need a tool that reacts immediately. Your mind is occupied with trying to grab the ideas and impulses so you also want something that is fool-proof and not distracting.

After many thoughts and attempts I settled for the one obvious tool that does the job best: a plain text-editor.

Text it

A text editor is a small program that basically produces .txt files, which is just about the most bare and smallest kind of text-file you can produce. No different letter types or sizes, nice layout or  italics or bold, but just text, ready to be used everywhere you want. Because of the simple .txt format you can take it anywhere you like in the world of text-based software. Open it in your favourite word-processor and create the most beautiful layout you can think of or send it by email to your best friend who can read it instantly in the mail or open it in what ever software and operating system he or she might happen to use. Copy and past that long post into your blogging tool or create an archive of lightweight basic text files, future-proof.

Text files are very convenient to back-up as their small size guarantees the shortest possible uploading time to a backup service, be it on the web or on your memory key. It will take you very likely more than a lifetime to write 2GB of .txt files, so you don’t have to worry about running out of space anywhere.

But one of the main advantages is the quick response time of text editors. They open instantly and make my old computer react like a brand new top model. Keep a shortcut at hand and whenever an idea pops up write it down immediately and save it, either in a file of its own or keep a file open to gather related ideas.

Save it

Save your files naming them with the current date like yymmdd (for example: 100211) and you automatically create a diary or journal that is stored in the right order and with the exact date you had that brilliant idea.

When you consequently start a new file each day you can keep track of different versions by copying the lightweight .txt file of the day before in your new file and edit and save it.

Control it

In order to keep control over your growing archive of .txt files you can use a search-tool that you tweak to index your archive of .txt files only. In this way you will be able to search very fast and won’t get distracted by .mp3 files or house-cleaning schedules. To ease up the searching process I add tags to pieces of text that I think I might want to use or reread later. A tag like #(tag), as for example: #quote or #idea, doesn’t really work in the search-tools I used as they apparently don’t “read” the #-symbol. So I opted for tag-quote or tag-idea that is certainly indexed by all search tools.

Screenshot of the results of a search in my .txt files (using Tracker).

I put the tag on a new line and I add a few words that somehow describe the piece of text I am referring too as these words show up in my search results directly behind the tag.

Screenshot of a text editor with tabs (gedit)

Choose a text editor that supports tabs so you can open search results or other multiple files you are working on in the same window and quickly switch between them. These could for example be chapters of a book, a plot or character descriptions, quotes or articles. I keep always two tabs open; a todo list or notes file and a file with the tags I use so I can be consistent.

Screenshot of the my complete screen.

Most text editors have the F11 shortcut that will turn it into a full-screen productivity machine and with a default easy-for-the-eye background colour there will be no stopping you.

Well, I can’t see a reason anyway.

Phoenix?

I think, honestly, that of all the things I wrote in the past, like diaries, short stories and poems, I only feel satisfied with about a handful of writings.
At the moment that would be perhaps 3 poems and 3 short stories. The older works are not necessarily that bad, but I don’t want them any more.
I don’t know what to think of this unsatisfied look upon everything else I did, it is just the way it is I suppose. I have become older so I prefer other things and I am more critical.
It just makes me wonder if this process of rejecting works from the past is something that will continue the rest of my life. Maybe.

Life should be obvious

This thought was somewhere in between my notes. It is from not too long ago, but I actually can’t remember where I got the inspiration from. It must have been a blogpost somewhere.

Life has to be a selvfølge (something obvious, literally: following its self), one does things because one has to. Because it is needed to survive or because one can’t stop doing it anyway. Any other thing will cost too much energy and will be experienced as something that doesn’t really matter. Accepting this also means accepting ones role in life. One can’t become more than one is, but one should continue looking at, training and exploring ones self. A whole world lies inside. Many things become obvious when one discovers the beauty of living and being.

I’ll try to follow the advice. Distraction comes o so easy, all things seems to be interesting, worthwhile or even important. But deep inside of us our soul (or whatever it is) only asks for certain things. To be truly productive and valuable to yourself means concentrating on this voice.

As I added to the thought (probably sarcastically – but that can’t cover up the well meant intention): Good luck!

Merlin Mann: Figure out who you are

This post from 43folders.com contains a video with another interesting line of thoughts by Merlin Mann, who thinks about productivity, creativity and the caveats surrounding them.

Merlin presents his ideas in a popular way, fast and often funny, but he is serious and dedicated in trying to find out the truth about his subjects.

It is another attempt to define, and thereby better deal with, procrastination.

Here are some quotes I wrote down:

Procrastination happens when we don’t know what to do.

(You go look around to find out what you should do next.)

Sometimes you procrastinate because you feel you need to do something else for a while. But if so, then never forget who you are and what you want.

It’s important for creativity to read or do something even if you don’t know why you are doing it.
But sometimes you have to put your head down and work really hard.

Happiness is in the right balance of these two.

In his video Merlin explains that it is important to figure out who you are and to always keep that in mind. Procrastination can be o.k., but it should never lead you away from your own goal.

There are truly many more thoughts in the video including his well meant advice on how to protect yourself from certain forms of procrastination.

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Here’s another post I wrote about Merlin Mann’s ideas.