My Writing Space

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Every creative person has a particular preference for the location to conduct their craft. Doesn't mean they'll get it. Many people write when on public transportation, or for that matter, any place where they can grab a minute or two. I'm fortunate in that I write and digitally paint in an almost perfect place of my own making.

I work in what a friend calls a 'tech nest'. My wife calls it 'mission control'. I call it my 'Idea Factory'.

I find that I create best in an air-conditioned environment, bathed in incredible visual beauty I can see from my monitor when I look up, access to the most up-to-date digital tools and a calm quiet undisturbed environment where I can work for hours without interruption. I'm not the 'I like to work in a noisy coffee shop' kind of person. I like my cool air and absolute quiet except for the humming of the AC.

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When it’s daytime and it’s nice outside, there is a wonderful tree-house feel to my writing area. As you can see from the picture, I have a world class view from my Kailua, Oahu office window. The Ko'olau Pali mountains are in the distance. When I'm pondering a plot problem, I just gaze out at the mountains and I'm transported to a different place. (And I'm a five minute walk to a world class beach if that doesn't work.)

My work station is dedicated to working on my novels in the morning then I switch to digital art in the afternoon after I’ve finished my writing quota.  I’m at my desk much of the time during daylight hours except for a minimum hour-and-a-half a day exercise program. A beach walk is often included.

My systems are all networked. Most everything is Bluetooth or wireless.

I have very early stage Parkinson's, so productive writing now requires 80% voice recognition dictation. Typing and using the mouse are problematic as my right hand freezes. Oddly, drawing with a digital pen doesn’t seem to induce the freezing because much of the drawing is more a shoulder movement than hands.

I use a high tech ergonomic vertical mouse which my family members can’t stand because there is a learning curve to using it, but it’s saved my wrists and is easier to handle with a movement disorder.

I have a fairly robust computer (Dell 3.20 GHz CPU and Windows 10 64-bit operating system) running on a solid state 1 TB drive and 16 GB installed Ram.  Dragon Naturally Speaking dictation, and higher end image work with a Wacom tablet and Painter 17, don’t seem to work terribly well with anything less and I've experimented with many systems over the years.

I use a Yeti desktop microphone (most people use them for podcasts) for dictation. Much more convenient than headsets. When I’m not at my desk, I use the Dragon Anywhere app on my iPhone which links to my Dropbox account and uses the same rules as my desktop version.  So I can dictate anywhere and edit on the desktop. 

Many of the indie authors on Amazon put out at least a couple of books a year using dictation since it’s so much more efficient and it helps avoid carpal tunnel syndrome. I'm not that productive — at least not yet.

I use two monitors – a 26 inch and a 24 inch. One for my writing work in progress – the second for Scrivener, and often a thesaurus and grammar app (I use WhiteSmoke).

I backup everything on multiple cloud accounts plus a portable 1 TB drive. I learned the hard way that a single backup method is not enough. I lost a bunch of digital paintings recently with a problem linking with iCloud due to an unexpected automatic software update and I was nearly in tears given the hours the work had taken. Fortunately my manuscripts had been saved elsewhere.

I have a laser printer for text. A photo printer for photo print quality images, and an HP Scanner Office Jet for non-photo quality color prints.

I use an iPad 12.9 inch Pro for drawing, painting and research. To get the most out of it's graphics capabilities, you need to buy a separate Apple Pencil which is already integrated for highest performance. Procreate is my digital drawing app of choice.

I use Evernote as my primary note taking app since it works on all my devices. Same thing with Dropbox for saving files but I do secondary backups to other cloud services. I use Mozy Home for automated backups of my computer. I use Scrivener for outlining my novels but still prefer to work my manuscripts in Word.

I must admit that sometimes I just go 'old tech' and take a notebook and a pen out on the deck for freewriting or brainstorming. Or I'll sit at the beach and dictate on my iPhone.

But I still have that view...