Bookmarked Writing Tools I Use All The Time – Clive Thompson – Medium (Medium)

My go-tos for reporting, research, and writing. “Writing Tools I Use All The Time” is published by Clive Thompson.

Clive Thompson reflects upon the writing tools he uses. Although written from the perspective of a Mac, I was intrigued by Scribd, which I clearly had not explored properly as a platform. I also liked the reference to Blackwing pencils, I feel I take this side of the way I work for granted at times.
Bookmarked How I write – INCERTO – Medium (INCERTO)

Preface to the 15th year Italian edition of The Black Swan

In the preface to the 15th year Italian edition of The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb reflects on writing books for the past as a means of remaining read in the future.

If you want to be read in the future, make sure you would have been read in the past. We have no idea of what’s in the future, but we have some knowledge of what was in the past. So I make sure I would have been read both in the past and in the present time, that is by both the comtemporaries and the dead. So I speculated that books that would have been relevant twenty years in the past (conditional of course of being relevant today) would be interesting twenty years in the future.

Replied to so what’s the deal with teaching after lockdown? by Tania ShekoTania Sheko (

I’m torn. I’m aware that teachers need to balance the amount of assistance they provide to students with a certain amount of room for them to work through things on their own so that they learn from that process, otherwise they are so used to us feeding them what they need that they are under the impression that learning is consumption of skills on a platter, whereby they learn things they are given by rote and follow a formula to the end result. Even if that were the case, how engaged would they be? And without engagement they won’t have a source to draw from – a source of interest and self-confidence, a thirst to understand and learn more. Isn’t that the point of teaching and learning, that balance?

Tania, reflecting upon your thoughts and reflections on scaffolding, I am left wondering how much the issue is something missed during the COVID years or a general lack of engagement with learning in general?
Bookmarked Taylor Swift Explains Her Three Types Of Lyrics In Nashville Songwriters Association Awards Speech by Tom BreihanTom Breihan (
In an acceptance speech for the Nashville Songwriters Association International award for Songwriter-Artist Of The Decade, Taylor Swift shares her three genres associated with her lyrics.

I categorize certain songs of mine in the “Quill” style if the words and phrasings are antiquated, if I was inspired to write it after reading Charlotte Brontë or after watching a movie where everyone is wearing poet shirts and corsets.

Fountain pen style means a modern storyline or references, with a poetic twist.

Frivolous, carefree, bouncy, syncopated perfectly to the beat. Glitter Gel Pen lyrics don’t care if you don’t take them seriously because they don’t take themselves seriously.

Bookmarked How to Make Notes and Write by Dan AllossoDan Allosso (

First, we’ll cover techniques (and a few tools) you can use to turn what you’re reading, watching, and hearing into useable information. This process has as much to do with taking ownership of ideas as it does with apps. Second, we’ll look at how you can organize and link ideas to make them useful to you and direct them at new questions. Third, and maybe most important, we’ll focus on how you get that information back out of your notes and into a form you can use to share your ideas with others.

Dan Allosso provides a guide to how to make notes and carve them into ideas. Chris Aldrich has also provided an annotated copy of book to annotate with Hypothesis.

Bookmarked (

Get 20% discount with code STORY BUY IT NOW
“A masterful and highly accessible overview of exciting developments in computer-generated literature by two experts in the field.” Arthur I. Miller, author of The Artist in the Machine: The World of AI-Powered Creativity

“A lot of fun to read… …

Another example of an AI story generator. Here is my example:

I wake up each morning to the same gray sky. The same unremitting cold. It’s been like this for months. I don’t know what’s wrong with the weather, but it’s driving me crazy.

I go to work every day, and each time I come back, it’s the same. The office is dark and dingy, and the clock on the wall says it’s already after five.

I go home, and the same thing happens. I try to watch TV or read a book, but it’s all so dull and lifeless.

I can’t take it anymore. I get up from my chair and go outside.

It’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining, and the sky is a bright blue. I walk around for a while, enjoying the warmth of the sun on my skin.

Then I start to feel a little better. I start to feel like I’m home again.

I sit down on the steps of the porch and start to think.

I remember the first time it happened. It was the middle of summer, and I was out on the porch with my friends. The sun was shining, the air was clean,

I am really intrigued with the idea of starting with something like this as a provocation or something to continue.

“Steve Wheeler” in Story Machines: Can computers become creative writers? | Learning with ‘e’s ()

Bookmarked The 9 Biggest Myths About Nonfiction Trade Publishing, Debunked by Summer Brennan (A Writer's Notebook)

What really happens when you “get a book deal,” publish your first book, and go on tour to promote it? It may not be what you’ve always imagined!

Summer Brennan debunks nine myths associated with publishing:

  • Book deals do not mean a bunch of money.
  • Most authors never see another cent beyond the advance.
  • Often book launches are the responsibility of the author.
  • In 99.9999% of times authors are not paid for readings.
  • Book tours are funded by authors.
  • Often authors have little control over the cover, title, and subtitle of their books.
  • Books maybe copy edited, but are often not given extensive structural edits.
  • Authors often only earn $1.50 a book.
  • Usually authors have no control over the publication of excerpts.

This is very thought provoking and eye-opening.

“Austin Kleon” in Stolen plants always grow – Austin Kleon ()

Bookmarked Books Become Games by Justin E. H. Smith (Justin E. H. Smith's Hinternet)

On the face of it, the gamification of reality looks like fun. But when everything becomes a game, it turns out, that game ends up dissolving into its merely apparent opposite: work. The dupes of the new ideology, underlain by the metaphor of the game, think they’re giving us life in an arcade —a child’s dream!— but what we’re really getting is life in a global warehouse, monitored and metricized, forced at every turn to devise strategies that maximize engagement with whatever it is we’re putting out there… all in the name of scraping by.

Whether it be reviews written based upon promotional copy, responding to random podcast requests or competing with Amazon ‘study guides’, Justin Smith reflects upon the way in which the the publishing of books has become a game.

This reminds me of Cory Doctorow’s reflection on the challenges of self-publishing, as well as C. Thi Nguyen’s discussion of the problems with the gamification of social media.

Bookmarked Rare Thoughts on Writing From Cormac McCarthy in This Unlikely Interview (Literary Hub)

It turned out that Wilhelm’s boyfriend lived next door to a friend of Cormac McCarthy’s, and had actually seen the author. So Wilhelm and Oseran drafted a list of questions for McCarthy, with some guidance from Sudak, and emailed them to the friend.

Cormac McCarthy answers a series of questions provided to him as a part of a student assignment. Through these responses, he reflections upon the notion of inspiration:

I write what is in my head, in my mind. Certainly there are times when what I am writing about corresponds to a place I know well, such as west Texas and Mexico, but sometimes I have a visual image in my head that does not relate to any specific knowledge of a place.

As well as audience when writing:

I’m not writing for a particular audience. The reader in mind is me. If someone else would write these books I could go play golf.

Bookmarked How To Make A Book Come To Life by Steve Brophy (Hedge School)

Welcome to part two of my self publishing journey. Part one is the hard part. Climbing that mountain requires consistency and plenty of will. Part two, although easier, was completely uncharted territory for me. Writing and editing writing is familiar. Understanding the process required to take that edited piece and bring it to the world was challenging. Hopefully this helps provide a little light for you on your own journey. I will share with full transparency the whole process. It is not the only way to get a book into the world, it is just the path I walked this time. Be sure to check out Part 1 to help set the scene.

Steve Brophy reflects upon the technical aspects associated with producing a book, including purchasing an ISBN, selecting art for the cover and choosing a platform to publish the book. Brophy also shares a link to Ron Vitale’s post on using IngramSpark.
Listened Dave Eggers: How Can Kids Learn Human Skills in a Tech-Dominated World? from NPR

Fiction can serve as a window into multiple realities–to imagine different futures or understand our own past. This hour, author Dave Eggers talks tech, education, and the healing power of writing.

I am not necessarily sure if the podcast really addressed the question that got me in. However, it did provide an interesting insight into Dave Eggers that I did not know, including his work with 826 Valencia and giving children more of a voice in the world. A couple of observations that stood out was that often a memoir can feel like chaos in your own head, but look like clarity when written on the page. Also, he ended the conversation with a sagely piece of advice:

If you want to be a writer, start listening

Liked Re: Writing A Book Is Nonesense by Wouter GroeneveldWouter Groeneveld (

If you read Irene Vallejo’s Papyrus (don’t worry, it’s an academic!), you’ll learn that books did not (only) originate as a way to preserve knowledge. Sometimes, knowledge is boring. And we’re not even talking about fiction yet.

There’s a lot of crap out there. That statement is true beyond the context of books. Sifting and decision-making while buying is up to you. To ignore everything but academic authors when it comes to non-fiction is just ridiculous.

Bookmarked Can “Distraction-Free” Devices Change the Way We Write?  by Julian Lucas (The New Yorker)

The digital age enabled productivity but invited procrastination. Julian Lucas on why writers are rebelling against their word processors.

From literary Rube Goldberg workflows, distraction-free text editors and e-ink tablets, Julian Lucas dives into the world of distraction-free writing. He unpacks applications and devices such as iA Writer, Ulysses, Bear, Word ‘focus mode’, Hanx Writer, OmmWriter and Freewrite Smart Typewriter and reMarkable. All along, Lucas explores the friction between paper and computers, and the benefits and negatives associates with each.

The most venerable form of literary friction may be the scratch of pen on paper. Computers have largely failed to replace the original focussed word processor, which is not only cheap and abundant but uniquely conducive to the forms of spatial thinking—arrows, scribbles, doodles, and diagrams—that writing often demands. Physical mark-making also quickens the memory, which is one reason that handwritten notes are so much easier to recall than their typed equivalents. Yet paper can also fail us in the heat of composition, when the time comes to search notes and splice sentences. The two indispensable systems square off. For years, I’ve switched between them in what can feel like a war of attrition: scribbling until my hand cramps, typing until dazed by the screen, and wasting time with scanners to translate between mediums.

Personally, I think the challenge for a clean workflow is something that everyone grapples with. Having a distraction-free space to write is central to that.

This also has me thinking about Clive Thompson’s dive into productivity tools and Chris Aldrich’s exploration of posting handwritten notes.

I am also reminded of Marc Scott’s appeal against Word from a few years ago:

So please… pretty please… please with bells on top, borders of apples and the word PLEASE written in bright blue Word-Art; think next time you want to send a Word document by email or put one on your website, think about your recipient. Could you use the body of the email or a page on the site? Perhaps you could save the file as a .txt, .rtf or PDF. Just spare a thought for those of us that choose not to use Microsoft Word, and respect our right not to do so.

Bookmarked Become a Better Digital Researcher: Tips From Tedium (Tedium: The Dull Side of the Internet.)

If you’re a longtime reader of Tedium, you might wonder how I manage to uncover so many strange stories. Well, let me tell you. Hopefully it’s inspiring.

Ernie Smith discusses how he conducts research. He touches on some of the different sources, such as, Google Books, Google Patents, Internet Archive and a library card. Overall, he estimates that he reads 200 articles a day. In addition to his sources, he provides a number of tips for building out ideas and pieces, including:

  • Look past the accepted answer
  • Build an overall context behind the history in question
  • Don’t go into a story looking to tear anyone down
  • Focus on interesting framing
  • Make it unique by building in personal anecdotes

It is always interesting reading about how different people conduct their research. Whether it be Maha Bali’s reflection on researching and writing a paper in 10 days, Naomi Barnes’ comparison to walking around city streets, Lucy Taylor’s advice on completing a PhDRyan Holiday’s five steps or Ian O’Bryne’s process for writing a literature review. At the end of the day, I feel that the method often comes down to the intended outcome. Writing a post for Tedium is going to be different to writing a long book which is different to doing a PhD.

Bookmarked Artificial Intelligence Songwriter – These Lyrics Do Not Exist (

Generate your own song lyrics for any topic, also choose lyrics genre and lyrics mood

I am always intrigued by the use of AI to generate anything, such as Google’s Verse by Verse experiment. These Lyrics Do Not Exist creates a set of lyrics based on three variables: topic, genre and mood.

Here is an example of the lyrics for a very happy rock song on ‘Scott Morrison’:

Verse 1
Scott worked his way to the top
This man and those who live like Scott do
To keep the spirits high
And to help them pray

Clean it when you done
Scott paid for my pizza

Scott has always been this way
And she has always been that way
They never find a man with a plan
Telling them all the stories that Scott knows

Verse 2
And Scott is so in my eyes
And Scott is always on my mind
And we talk about the future
You say you disagree

Scott loves to ride in the rodeo
Scott loves to ride in the rodeo

Scott has always been this way
And she has always been that way
They never find a man with a plan
Telling them all the stories that Scott knows

If I love the lord is everything to me
Scott reached down and lifted me up,

Scott has always been this way
And she has always been that way
They never find a man with a plan
Telling them all the stories that Scott knows

I an interested in the possibility of using such generators to create stupid ideas to build upon.

Replied to The White Girl author Tony Birch on how to write short stories (ABC News)

My key piece of advice to anyone thinking about writing short fiction is to (literally) exercise your sense of curiosity, to be aware of the world around you, to observe, to be ready for the moment.

It is important to document any scene that may feed the creative self. Not only does sketching document an idea that might otherwise be lost to memory, this act of writing is the first act of producing a short story

I recently wondered what happened to my perchance a few years ago for story writing. I think what Tony Birch highlights is that I stopped.

I believe this so fundamentally because the second trait that most successful writers hold in common is not talent or creative genius, but a work ethic and a regular and organised writing habit.

I guess this is Austin Kleon’s point about keeping on going.

Bookmarked Everything I’ve Learned about Being a “Professional” Writer in One Post by Lincoln Michel (Counter Craft)

Last week there was a bizarrely contentious Twitter debate about whether MFA programs should offer professional advice to students or whether it should be a sacred space for art without the messiness of business. I won’t wade into all the threads, but I’m firmly on the side of publishing demystification. I always dedicate part of my MFA courses to answering student questions about submissions, agents, etc. Perhaps this is because I had to figure all of this out myself while so many writers around me seemed to have been passed all this knowledge in secret. I don’t mean that I’m not privileged, but just I didn’t have any family publishing connections or professional mentors or even know any authors growing up. I wish I’d gotten more of a professional education, from banal things like freelance taxes to general advice like how willing you have to be to promote your own work—did you know I have a SF novel called The Body Scout publishing on 09/21 that you can preorder today???—and so I figured I’d just write down everything I’ve learned here in the hope it helps someone else.

Lincoln Michel provides advice on being a professional, building a platform, freelancing, tax, submissions, agents and career building. It is one of those pieces that it is useful to come back to and reflect. An interesting read alongside Cory Doctorow’s reflection of publishing.
Replied to You Don’t Have Writer’s Block. You Have “Reporter’s Block” by Clive Thompson (Medium)

You’re having trouble writing not because you can’t find the right words, but because you don’t know what you’re trying to say. You don’t have the right facts at hand.

So the solution is to gather more facts. You need to step away from the keyboard, stop trying to write, and do some more reporting: Make phone calls to some new sources, consult new experts, read a relevant book or article. Once you have the facts at hand, the words will come.

Or to put it another way, when you’re writing nonfiction, the words flow from the research. If the words aren’t flowing, usually the problem is the research isn’t there. To say something, you have to have something to say.

Clive Thompson reflects upon the feeling of writer’s block and suggests that the answer is more research. This reminds me of something Amy Burvall once wrote:

In order to connect dots, one must first have the dots

It also feels like it could be a lost chapter to Austin Kleon’s book Keep Going.

Bookmarked Self-publishing – Cory Doctorow – Medium by Cory Doctorow (Medium)

Unless you feel you can figure out how to market your book, unless you want to devote as much energy to that marketing plan as you did to its authorship and production, unless you are prepared to sustain your marketing effort through constant iteration and refinement, you probably shouldn’t self-publish.

Cory Doctorow reflects upon the monopolisation of the book publishing industry and the perils associated with self-publishing. He shares some of the lessons that he has learnt along the way:

I’ve evolved a checklist for would-be self-publishers that makes success more than a matter of pure luck.

  1. Observe the publishing fortunes of books whose audiences you imagine to be similar to your book’s audience;
  2. From these observations, formulate a falsifiable hypothesis about how you will reach a similar audience;
  3. Based on this hypothesis, formulate a plan to get your book to that audience;
  4. Execute your plan, and measure its progress by comparing your book’s performance to your hypothesized performance;
  5. As new data comes in about where your hypothesis was mistaken, revise your hypothesis and make a new plan, and execute that;
  6. Go to step 4. and repeat.

This won’t guarantee that you succeed, but without something like this, you will almost certainly fail.

I am intrigued to how this differs in Australia or if it is the same all over the world.

Doctorow also shared a reading of the piece on his podcast: