Secret Diaries…..

whats behind the wrapper?

Browsing Posts published by josiahb

A lot of my energy at the moment is going into simply generating ideas for things to write about, in the past I’ve relied on random inspiration to give me a topic but recently I’ve started to examine where those random ideas actually come from.  My reliance on randomness regularly leaves me bereft of ideas which seriously damages my output so finding the source will help to stabilise things somewhat.  The search has revealed a few things to me about my and about my approach to some things outside of as well.

The major discovery is the obvious one, ideas come from everywhere and anywhere.  A comment in the middle of a conversation, an image glanced as you go about your daily life, all these things get stored away and eventually if your very lucky your unconscious mind makes some kind of connection and you’ve got a potential best seller idea waiting to be unleashed.  This makes it a vitally important part of any writers life to make sure that they always have their eyes and ears open or else the ideas may pass you by.

Dreams are another useful source of ideas, both your own and other peoples, as a for instance this morning my girlfriend told me she had a in which two of my friends from the world of amateur dramatics were researching their next role by pretending to want to be part of the Mafia.  All on its own you’ve got the begins of a fantastic story without your conscious mind actually having to do anything.  Dreams however are fickle and where one day you get a prize winning short story idea the next you may get a complete damp squib.

Which brings me to an incredibly important point:  Good ideas do not always produce good .  Once you have that germ of inspiration it takes a lot of work to turn it from idea into finished project and if you don’t approach the process the ‘right’ way you’ll waste a lot of time polishing a turd.  Evidence of that (I’m ashamed to say) can be seen in various corners of this site where over excitement at the mere thought of turning idea into substance has resulted in badly formed and incomplete product.

This is what my quest to understand the source of my ideas has taught me, I need a Plan, up until now (to paraphrase Phoebe Buffay) I haven’t had a pl.  Hence the creation of The Plan, the overriding rules by which I now abide when doing anything for this site.  The details of The Plan will continue to be fleshed out as time goes on.  Much of The Plan is actually still unpublished as I’ve come to realise I need something which extends beyond this site and into my daily life.

Its a freeing experience knowing that a part of your life now has structure and some kind of future, has become easier and more fluid and the rest of my life seems to be following suit. So, if your a budding writer whose struggling to find focus or if your just feeling a bit lost in any area of your life, make yourself a plan, even if its only a list of what your going to cook each night for dinner it’ll help.

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Dreams

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I would like nothing better in life than to sit and do this every day, the sheer joy of is incredible and fills me with a sense of well being and purpose.  The challenge is turning part time into making enterprise, something which isn’t easy.  The truth of the matter is though that there are now more people ‘living the ’ and making from , drawing and otherwise creating content than at any other time in history.  The internet has opened up a whole new avenue and that avenue is spreading back to impact more traditional media, the days of self-publication have very definitely arrived.

This freedom to create which has been handed to so many people does of course give rise to the creation of a whole wealth of total crap, but some gems are really starting to shine through, the world of webcomics seems to be the most advanced of the new breed with many turning their comic into a full-time job.  Quite apart from the prolific Ryan Sohmer (and the rest of the Blind Ferret team) over at www..com many others are making their mark and making their living in this new world.  Where the webcomics guys seem to have got it right is by not limiting themselves, they are not only producing collections of the work they’ve presented on the web they’ve also expanded  into prints, T-shirts, figurines and even shot glasses.

So how do those of us with little in the way of artistic talent make use of these potential new making avenues?  The phrase ‘you have to spend to make ’ may come into play here, once you’ve established your as worth peoples attention you can spend a bit of cash getting a talented artist to create a few T-shirt designs for you.  If your fiction a few posters of your main characters may sell well.

The important thing is that there is no better time than now to try and make your artistic dreams come true, I’m certainly going to be trying over the next few months to make it happen for me, whether that involves a whole load of or just some damn good only time will tell.

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I’d like to introduce you all to Lightning Bug, an incredibly useful little site full of stuff to just get your moving.  Theres a whole raft of warm up excercises and different things to help you develop characters and setting.

Its well worth a look if you need help turning vague concept into fully formed idea.

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Evernote

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As I’ve said previously I intend to keep track of the work I’m doing on my top secret project and let you in on some of the things which are helping me pull everything together into a sensible whole.  First on the list is Evernote an incredibly useful little application for the technological writer.

I have spent a fair chunk of time walking round with a pen and somewhere about my person so that I can write down ideas as they occur to me and to be quite frank I’ve been useless at using them, you see my handwriting is terrible and if I’m fast in a small it goes from terrible to almost completely illegible.  I needed another solution and with a quick look round the Google market on my shiny new powered phone I’ve found the answer:  Evernote.

Evernote is available for Mac OS X, , iPhone / iPod Touch, iPad, , BlackBerry, Palm Pre / Palm Pixi and Mobile, so more or less any platform your likely to be using (except Linux, sorry open source fans.  Still it’ll probably run fine in Wine).  It allows you to take notes in a whole variety of forms (Text, voice, snapshots or file uploads) before uploading them to Evernote’s servers where they can then be synced to your other devices.  The basic package is free and gives you a maximum amount of 40Mb of monthly uploads which in these times of GB email inboxes etc doesn’t sound much but if all your using it for is making text notes for your upcoming novel you should remain well below the limit.

The application itself (on and anyway, I haven’t used it on the many other platforms available) is simple to use and intuitive so you’ll find yourself taking a whole wealth of notes on a whole variety of subjects before you know it.  I use it to keep track of those random moments of inspiration which occur throughout the day before taking those many disparate thoughts and hammering them into a meaningful shape the next time I sit down to write.

This is actually looking like the single most powerful tool I have at the moment, those fleeting moments of inspiration are no longer being lost for want of a working pen and the chances of meaningful have been massively increased.  If you find yourself losing those brilliant ideas that would turn you into the worlds most successful author I seriously suggest taking a look.

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Structure

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I’m working a lot on improving the structure of my at the moment, particularly focussing on the need for a clear beginning, middle and end to everything I put together.  The beginning and middle have tended to be things which I don’t have a problem putting together its bringing those things to a well rounded conclusion which seems to cause me some challenge.

A lot of forward planning goes into any article, short story or novel.  Research is always necessary it gives a far better structure and depth to your and this has been the main casualty in my recent work.  I’ve avoided property research or planning in an effort just to get something published which unfortunately has resulted in the series of random ramblings currently present on this very site.  Opinion only carries you so far when not backed by verifiable fact, without that grounding in reality the writers voice tends to get lost and the content of the article ends up awash in a sea of nothing in particular.

So this is where I find myself now, in search of facts and a rounded and well written ending to go with the many beginnings and middles floating around in my head.  Without them my new super secret project will remain unwritten.  So, over the coming months while I try and get my head round these little conundrums I’m going to be publishing a series of articles on the methods I find and the thoughts I have on the good and bad points of them all.  If nothing else the end result of all this may be some useful hints and tips for everyone else!

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I’ve just started work on my new project (which in all honesty is a rehash of an old project), this will begin appearing in the not to distant future on this very site!

I’m not going to reveal too much largely because the detail isn’t all there yet but expect to hear more as time goes on.

For now its off to work!

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I’m spending a worrying amount of time stuck inside my own head at the moment which is damaging a lot of things. My for one.

I actually started work on a novel recently but ground to a halt in a sea of bad , two dimensional characters and cliché. Hopefully another few hours of bashing at the keys will get most of that out of my system and I’ll actually be able to move on to producing something worth reading. In order to improve matters I’m looking to do some more structured by finding some websites and magazines looking for article submissions with some enforced limits. Even a word count will help focus me at the moment.

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This Saturday saw me become the proud owner of a samsung galaxy portal, not the phone I had originally intended getting but I’m glad I did. Having had a couple of days to play with it I am glad to say it is responsive good looking and a fantastic value smartphone.

I’ve seen a lot of commentary on the net about the camera on this phone and its not that impressive, at only 3 megapixels its a lot weaker than many on the market but as someone who’s grown up surrounded by photographic equipment I don’t see the point of having an 8 megapixel camera attached to sub standard optics on my phone.

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Following the recent glut of half formed ideas and (really honestly) half finished articles I find myself with yet another case of writers block, ideas and topics are floating around in my head but turning them into fully fledged articles is proving difficult.  What follows is a list of things I’d like to write about:

  • The general election, thoughts on the three main parties and why I think this time there is a real opportunity for change.
  • Job searches, and finding work when your already employed.
  • Making extra when that little boost will really help.
  • Teaching people to drive and the short lived terror of handing over your car keys.
  • Studying, why I should have concentrated more in school and how much of a challenge it is to keep focussed now.

Each of these is a topic I should be able to write about without difficulty or restriction but the ideas aren’t flowing quite right at the moment, so instead I intend to spend this week researching other peoples methods of getting the creative juices flowing and maybe you’ll see a round up and review later in the week!

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Many (if not all) of you will know by now that the Digital Economy Bill successfully made it through the House of Commons last week, the general consensus seems to be that this was a hell of a rushed job for a highly contentious piece of legislation.  I’d have to agree, although I do applaud the aim of the bill (to stamp out digital piracy) the execution suffers from the same lack of knowledge and bad planning of a large amount of regulation in regards to computing and the internet.

The major problem is the absolute faith the government seems to have that everyone knows whats going on on there own network, in the coporate world this should be true.  If an IT team can’t manage to secure their network in such a way as to stop copyright infringement then the company in question needs to find a new IT team.  Home users however are a different story, many don’t care (let alone understand) about securing their network.  Wireless networks are left with default passwords or weak encryption because the people who set them up are focussed on getting it working fast not on getting it working right.  These people are now at risk, with no proper security and no logging of activity they are going to potentially find themselves cut off by their broadband provider following a court order for a crime they didn’t commit.

Attacking the pirates themselves is the only way to have any effect on the rampant piracy that takes place day in day out all over the internet but it needs to be dealt with in a way that doesn’t put the innocent among us at undue risk.  The Digital Economy Bill appears to be written in a way which flies in the face of hundreds of years of British policy on law and order: Innocent Until Proven Guilty.  It will also have very little effect on those who are guilty, many of them are smart enough to use technology to hide their activities from basic monitoring and any deeper monitoring of traffic can and should be taken as an infringement of civil liberties.

Oh and for those who defend piracy by claiming it causes no harm because ‘I wouldn’t have bought it anyway’ please, grow up and take a look at what you are causing.  It doesn’t matter that you wouldn’t have bought it, that excuse wouldn’t work if you stole a car it certainly won’t work if your stealing software, music or movies.  Your actions cause reactions like the debill, you have attacked peoples livelihoods and their bottom line, they are fighting back.  Thanks, now we’re all screwed.

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