Fantastic Friday: Writing Edition

Hello friends,

It’s another fantastic Friday!

As I’m sure you’re already aware, the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl! I remember when Denver won in Super Bowls 32 and 33. My friends and I ran down to the main street of our little town in Castle Rock, Colorado. We had our Broncos flags and air horns and just ran up and down the street waving at people. It was so fun.

And while I didn’t go running through any streets this past Sunday, it was so great to see the orange and blue get the win. Especially since this is most certainly Payton Manning’s final season.

Okay, I’m done talking about sports for the foreseeable future.

Today’s edition of Fantastic Friday is all about writing. As I mentioned in Wednesday’s article, the next few week’s I’ll be sharing about my own tools and workflows.

Today, I’m sharing with you the four most important elements of my writing routine.

Yesterday on Twitter I asked if anyone had any questions or topics for today’s article. I’ve tried to answer a few of those questions here, but there are more questions that I’ll aim to answer in a future post.

As always, thanks for reading!

— Shawn


1. A Very Clicky Keyboard

Remember a few years ago when I went hyper-nerd in search of an awesome clicky keyboard? My motivation was two-fold: (a) I’d only ever been typing on the standard-issue keyboard that came with the computers I owned; and (b) as a writer, it would behoove me to have the best possible keyboard.

So I bought a half-dozen keyboards and spent an inordinate amount of time typing on them. You can read all about it here and here.

Ultimately, the keyboard that really clicked with me (ha!) was the Filco Ninja.

If I were to replace my current keyboard, I’d get a CODE keyboard in either Blue or Green switches. What’s awesome about the CODE is the backlighting.


2. ‘Monument Valley’ Soundtrack

Monument Valley is an splendidly beautiful game for iOS. It also has an incredible soundtrack.

I’ve probably listened to the soundtrack close to 1,000 times. Even now, as I write this very sentence, I’m listening to it. It’s what I listen to when I write.

I began listening to this album over a year ago when I drastically changed my morning routine to favor writing above all else as the most important part of my work day.

The soundtrack is awesome, to be sure. But, another reason I continue to play it every day is that there’s some cool science behind this routine. After a few weeks of having this soundtrack on while writing, it become Pavlovian.

Getting into the flow of writing is hard. It’s always been hard, and I suspect it will continue to be so. By having a routine that surrounds my writing time it helps me to get in the zone faster and to stay focused for longer.

+ Nerdy side note: I use the B&O H7 wireless headphones and Apple Music.


3. iA Writer

Lately, iA Writer has become my text editor of choice. Especially for one-off articles like this one.

I’m also a fan of Ulysses — and turn to it when I’m working on bigger projects that involve chapters / sections / etc.

As much as I’d love to do all of my writing in Ulysses exclusively (it has some super awesome features), there is just something about the bold simplicity of iA Writer that has kept it as my go-to daily writing tool.


4. The Note

Lastly is “The Note”. This is, by far and away, the single most important component to my writing routine.

For years I used to sit down at my computer in the morning and ask myself what I would be writing about today. Now, I decide topics far in advance.

Not only have I begun keeping an editorial calendar so I know what is being published and when over the next 4-6 weeks, but I also plan out what my writing topic will be each day.

The Note is what I use for planning out each day’s writing topic. It’s just something simple that I leave out for myself at the end of each work day, where, on the note I have written down the topic for tomorrow’s writing time. Then, the next morning, when it’s time to write, all I have to do is hit play on Monument Valley and put the clicky keyboard to good use.

+ Nerdy aside: For my “note” I write it in my Baron Fig Confidant notebook and a Uni-ball Signo DX 0.38mm pen. The same tools I use for my daily to-do list and schedule (something we’ll get into later).

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P.S. For more info regarding my writing workflow, check out this Q&A. »

Fantastic Friday: Writing Edition