Tag Archives: writer

Writing Space: Renee Johnson

I’ve been a regular reader of Renee’s blog Writingfeemail for almost a year and have come to enjoy her observations about life and writing. I am often amazed at some of the similarities writer’s share as they pursue their craft. I hope you’ll enjoy Renee’s guest post here at No Wasted Ink.

Renee Johnson Writer and BloggerReading consumed me as a child and the resulting nickname – Bookworm – stuck to me for many years. I wrote my first novel around the age of nine in pink ink on lined loose paper. But growing up in the late seventies and early eighties, I was advised to follow the trail of business, not passion. Pursuing one’s bliss didn’t come into fashion until I was knee deep in the professional world with a business degree under my belt. Although my creative writing professors always encouraged me to continue with my writing, it was thought to be something one did as a hobby instead of a career.

Then I married, had a child, and followed him around baseball fields until I woke up one morning and realized that he was at college three hours away and I had newly acquired free time.

So, I ran away to France to a little village named Essoyes and the Writing School taught by teacher, editor, and writer – Janet Hulstrand. There, I found the validation and confidence that I needed to pursue writing as a second act in my life.

I returned home and began to put the many things I learned into practice and started the blog: Writingfeemail. But it took a while to get a writing space set up that was comfortable and user friendly. I found that I was constantly looking for things like staplers, post-it notes, paper clips, ink pens, etc. So I found a great divided organizer that matched my writing desk and it has been the single best piece of furniture that I have ever bought. Nothing is further than a fingertip away and the dividers keep it all separated so that I don’t have to dig around to find what I need.

Renee Johnson Writing Room

And the desk is in a room upstairs away from the bustle of normal traffic coming in and out of the house. That way I can get a bit more privacy. The small sofa and love seat are perfect for kicking back and proofreading my work or just offering a bit of a rest after hunching over the keyboard for too long.

Renee Johnson Writing room with sofa

There is a second writing tool that I use, especially when traveling. It is a laptop computer. And I have a brown leather journal that I love to carry around and jot notes in. But lately I’ve found that the notepad application on my blackberry has replaced the handwritten notes and that is probably a shame. Combing over my little notations often sparks the fire again for a project in a way that a typed note in the phone just doesn’t!


To read more about my experiences in Essoyes at the Writing School visit writingfeemail.

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

Once again, it is time to visit the web for interesting articles about writing. Although I do write the occasional article myself on the topic, I love the wealth of information that is available from all the millions of writers out there in the ether. I hope you will enjoy this week’s selection.

Of Men and Nicknames

The Alchemy of Story: Initiation, Transformation, Revelation

Should You Self Publish Your Novel?

30 Nautical Expressions

Community and Your Writing Business: It Takes a Village

Use illustrations to distract from your writing

25 Lifestyle Changes Guaranteed to Substantially and Quickly Boost your Creative Productivity

Is LinkedIn Losing Its Identity?

Help! My Book Isn’t Selling. 10 Questions You Need To Answer Honestly If You Want To Sell More Books.

5 Ways to Stay Organized as a Freelancer

Prompts to Promote Creative Writing

Moleskine and Cross Beverly Fountain PenThere is an old adage, “Practice makes perfect”. As an artisan, I create product at my jeweler’s bench a few times every week. I either make simpler production pieces that keep my booth’s jewelry racks filled, or spend more intensive creative time working on complex showcase pieces that are displayed in protective glass cases. I’ve learned that as long as I keep making a few items as I go along, I never come to a point where I am unprepared for a sales venue or unable to offer a few new designs to my customers. Practicing my jewelry craft on a regular basis, attending jewelry making workshops to increase my skills, and studying gemology has all combined to make me a reasonably successful artisan jeweler.

Writing, as it turns out, follows a similar business model. To be a successful writer, you need to write something every day to sharpen your skills. I schedule time to work on my novel a few days each week and consider it as I would the time I put in on complex jewelry items. A long term fiction novel takes more time to dream up, to figure out the connections between the characters, and to create a satisfying experience for the reader. On days when I am not working on my novel, I am writing posts for No Wasted Ink or articles for magazines. I consider these works to be like the simpler jewelry pieces, they are popular with the public, I sell a great many of them, but they don’t take quite as much mental exercise as a complex focal piece. Between these projects and commenting on forums and blogs, I tend to write for a few hours every single day. Writing is like breathing. It is what I do.

If you don’t have a blog to spur you to write on a regular basis, the next best thing is to start a journal and use writing prompts to fire up your creativity and hone your writing skills. Your journal can be on your computer or perhaps in a paper bound book such as a Moleskine. No one needs to see your short exercises, but if you have an inspiring day, that prompt could be the beginning to a good short story, novel or article. Your daily writing habit does not need to be long, perhaps a few hundred words at best. You’ll find that as you write, over time your word count will increase and finding topics or stories to write about will be easier.

The following are online sources for writing prompts.

Creative Writing Ink

The-One-Minute Writer

Short Story Ideas

The Write Prompts

The Journal

Combining an Alphasmart Neo with a Samsung Galaxy Tab for Writing On The Go

Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 and Alphasmart Neo
Chet Chin’s Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 and Alphasmart Neo Combined
As a writer, we all have machines that we favor for one task or another. When I am drafting a new novel or short story, my machine of choice is the Alphasmart Neo from RenLearn. It is a sturdy device designed to be used by children in classrooms. The keyboard is the most comfortable one that I own and it has a nice feel and sound that reminds me a little of the old Selectric typewriter that I grew up writing on. The text screen is very small. This aids me in drafting because it helps to keep my inner editor at bay and simply put down the words. I credit the Neo with helping me achieve higher word counts during NaNoWriMo writing sessions.

However, once drafting is completed, the Neo’s usefulness comes to an end. Instead of being able to use this comfortable keyboard that I prefer, I am forced to move to other machines to do my editing and revising. The Neo’s interface is antiquated enough that it doesn’t interface well with modern devices and while it can be used as a keyboard if you hook it up via a USB cable or connect to a device via InfraRed, most tablets these days interface with keyboards via bluetooth, which the Neo does not support.

I belong to an Alphasmart User Group and one of our members discovered a way to interface her Alphasmart Neo with her Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7. Chet Chin used the proprietary Samsung Galaxy Tab connection kit and the USB cable that she normally uses to interface with the Neo. The tablet recognized the Neo as a keyboard with no issues. Other tablets will force you to purchase a blutooth enabled keyboard if you wish to use it for writing on the go. That was step one of the connection puzzle. There was still the problem of positioning the tablet so she could see it while typing and finding a word processor app before she could combine the tablet and Neo as a travel writing suite.

At first, Chet tried writing with the Neo in her lap and placing the tablet on a nearby table. This created neck strain and was uncomfortable for her. To put the two machines together, she found a rubber surface cover for her tablet and then placed the tablet on top of the Neo. The Neo has a slight curve where its screen resides and the plastic shell has a textured surface. Chet discovered that the tablet would not slide down from the screen section of the Neo and was at an angle that was comfortable to see his text.

As a writer on the go, Chet not only needs to write text, but she needs to incorporate photos into her articles. Chet recommends the following apps to turn her Neo and Samsung Galaxy Tab into a writing suite:

StyleNote – A writing app for Android
Android PDF annotating app – Adobe Reader
Android photo editing app for cropping, resizing and adding text to his photos

If you would like to join the Alphasmart community, please join us at Flickr. You will learn much about these wonderful writing machines and hopefully become a convert to them as I have.

Writing Space: Cris Cosper

I’ve known Cris for some time on various Facebook literary book groups and knew that she was a writer just like myself. I invited her to do a guest post about her writing space here on No Wasted Ink.

Writer Cris Cosper
Writer Cris Cosper
My earliest memories are mostly of my Grandpa telling me stories, even on into my 30s, about his childhood and other family members and how things were in the 1930s and on, whether farming or living in the city, even the Great Depression era. Then there were the librarians and story times, my cousins and campfires, now my nieces and nephews and stories I tell from my childhood about their parents and stories I remember Grandpa telling me. I became a storyteller because of other storytellers. Plus, I like to communicate and pass things on to the next generation.

I only recently started to consider seriously that I could have an easy, natural knack for writing. I’ve been writing essays and poetry over the decades since grade school. Most of the topics were of non-fiction genres, life topics, natural world, personal experiences and scientific research pieces based on other printed works. Authors like Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Mary Shelley have inspired my imagination to fire non-stop. The freedom and possibility to travel were THE perks I needed to motivate me into launching on this adventure. My mother quipped, “I always liked your writing.” It was all I needed to hear. When writing, I can exercise that part of me that says: “I have not, will not, and will never grow up.” My eldest nephew says he can’t wait to read my first book. (We’re real pals.)

cris cosper writing space
Cris Cosper’s Writing Space
My writing space best reflects that part of my self-perception where I think I am still just out of high school, living in a dorm setting. I typically will “travel” as I write, starting from laying on my stomach, or sitting cross-legged, story-boarding or writing idea/concept lists in my notebook, or typing up the story on my notebook, a plain Acer Aspire One where I myself upgraded the RAM chip. (I’m pretty good at tinkering with anything technical or mechanical. Such a tomboy. I can change the oil and filter in my car, if I want to.) Eventually, I get tired of one spot and graft over to another, such as the floor with a pillow behind me. I think this opens up the physical headspace for me as I tend to look upwards when I need ideas. (Mom tells me I used to watch the trees sway with the breeze and the clouds pass by. Come to think of it, I still do this.) Later, I move to the patio in the afternoon, then I graft back in. It’s a rare day that I can write not near a window. It’s like I have to be connected to the natural world.

cris cosper writing tools
Cris Cosper’s Writing Tools
I’m a minimalist at heart, so I use only the basics in physical tools. Paper and pen for ideas, lists and research. I use the netbook for typing up stories. But lately, I have considered telling a story from my head and recording it and then putting it to page. But, my real tool remains the same for the osmosis of story fodder: My gift of gab and knack for research.



Chris Cosper
Writer, Cosmic Captives Series
First novel in write-up: Lair of the Sun
Targeted: November 2012
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