Day 12 of Dragon Dictate and Scrivener (Readability Levels)

LASelfie1001-cropOctober 1, 2014 5:22 AM BP: 136/97/74
Three months left in the year. Plenty of time for a new project or two.

I just signed the October challenge with to write at least 750 words every day for the month of October. I plan to write more than that but 750 seems like a nice basement number. Basement as opposed to a ceiling. (Hey, my blog, my word creations.)

Although I’ve accepted the challenge every month, my last successful full month of writing every day was April of this year. I’ve been writing at least 750 words a day but sometimes I forget to post them to the website of the same name.

So, at 5:29 AM, I’m going away to do my daily dictation to Scrivener using Dragon Dictate and reading from the book by Lee Child called Worth Dying For. BRB.
Resuming this blog at 6:07 AM. The word count for Chapter 12 was 1541. I checked the readability score against the website called and the result was grade level 3.9. There were 199 sentences, with an average 3.9 characters per word, 1.2 syllables per word and eight words per sentence. This makes me wonder whether a fourth grader could read this and understand it.

NOTE: Just for grins, I fed the preceding content of this blog into the application and my level of writing was 5.2. So, it looks like I’m writing for fifth-graders. Hey, kid. Does your mother know what you’re reading?

Just for some more grins, I’ll look at someone else’s writing for a further comparison. Hmm, perhaps someone from the Austin American Statesman newspaper, say Omar Gallaga and his recent article about the Austin City Limits fest.
The readability of his article was at grade level 10.3, the same level as that of Walt Mossberg, former writer for the New York Times in his farewell article.

Way to go, Omar!

So, my analysis is that Lee Child and I are writing for grade schoolers while Omar Gallaga and Walt Mossberg are targeting high school sophomores. Faulty analysis? Probably. What are your thoughts? Analyze the last thing you wrote (200 words or so) and see what your writing grade level is.

Day 11 of Dragon Dictate and Scrivener

September 30, 2014 6:19 AM BP: 140/84/70

I just finished using Dragon Dictate to dictate Chapter 11 of Lee Child’s book, Worth Dying For (1001 words) into Scrivener. I noticed that there are several errors in the result however I decided not to try to change any but the most egregious errors as I do this exercise. I started at 5:52 AM and ended at 6:16 AM. So, 24 minutes for 1000 words. Not too bad.

Since September 8, 2013 I have been trying to write at least 750 words every day and record them in to the appropriately named Unfortunately, several days ago, that website did not accept my username/password combination. Although I requested assistance at least three times, it was only today that I received a temporary password from them. So now I have the largest number of consecutive elapsed days of writing for the whole year.

My emotion at this time is not anger but disappointment. But as they say, “No use crying over spilt milk.” Still have statistics showing the nearly half a million words that I’ve written during this timeframe. And I have access to each day’s material since I began.

Beginning this past weekend, I started some new changes.

  1. I shaved my beard.
  2. I began culling books that I no longer use and donated them to Goodwill. (Need to do more ruthless culling.)
  3. Decided not to go into the office anymore.

Then on Monday:
In the morning, I moved away from my office-sharing at the Business Success Center back to my home office. Reason? It was just time for a change. It was more complex than that but I’d rather not dwell on all the reasons behind that decision.

At lunchtime, while picking up a to-go order at the Catfish Parlor, I met a couple, Boyce and Linda, who were eating and reading inside the restaurant. I struck up a conversation with them by saying something like, “Reading. My favorite pastime.” We continued to chat while I waited for my order to be done and discovered several commonalities.

  • We all like to read.
  • Lee Child is a favorite author of mine and Linda’s.
  • Boyce and I are of an age and we still work.
  • Boyce and I were in the Air Force. And obviously,
  • we all like catfish.

In the evening, I joined my World of Warcraft guild mates in my first ever raid. Even Glenna joined in. It lasted for over an hour and we had a great deal of fun and were not yelled at. It was so much fun, I’m sure that we will be able to do it again without a great deal of trepidation.

And that was only what happened on Monday as I began a graceful departure from one way of life. No biggie. Just moving on.

Now I need to decide what to do with the stuff I brought home from the office:

  • an older iMac,
  • a 27 inch monitor,
  • an audio mixer,
  • several books,
  • several pens,
  • and other paraphernalia, including two long folding tables.

I’m very crowded in my home office so I’m thinking about setting up another work area and devoting it to recipes, cooking, etc. in anticipation of my resumption of more home cooking and less takeout. Note the word ‘anticipation’. To be more positive, I will say ‘intent to resume’.
NOTE: Just for the record, for the same amount of money I spend on take-out, I can and will cook some mighty fine stuff.

Day 5 of Dragon Dictate and Scrivener

September 24, 2014 6:27 AM BP: 140/89/69
1429 words dictated from Worth Dying For by Lee Child using Dragon Dictate and Scrivener. Short of my new daily word goal of 2000 words. Since I’ll be studying about WooCommerce today, writing at least another 500 words should be no great problem. and one of the nice things about deciding on wooCommerce as my e-commerce choice of plug-ins, is that last night Fito Kahn and I agreed to pursue it together.

I spoke yesterday of wanting to see what the readability level was for the book by Lee Child that I’ve been dictating. I thought that I would need to have Microsoft Word to do that but today I found and it gives a pretty good and thorough analysis of pasted text. I just ran one of my articles through it and found that it was written at the average grade level of 8.0.

Then I ran chapter 5 of Worth Dying For through the same analysis and the average grade level was fifth grade. What does that say about my reading tastes?

I’m going to put some of Jan’s MP4 files into youTube and embed them in a scratch webpage and view them with FireFox to see if they are successfully shown and play the sound. The first MP4 is the mentoring one from SXSW. Loaded at 8:04 AM on September 24, 2014.
Processed and viewable at

The embed code is
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”//″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
SUCCESS!! Properly seen and heard on FireFox.
John created YouTube videos of each of the 5 videos and provided me with the YouTube embed codes which I inserted into a scratch file for Jan’s copy and paste actions.

I have found a series of tutorials on youTube for WooCommerce.
First one is 7minutes and is called WooCommerce Tutorial Part 1 – Building an eCommerce Site with WordPress and is located at also has a course on WooCommerce and WordPress called WordPress Ecommerce: WooCommerce. They also have the data files needed to perform the course exercises. Tomorrow morning at oh dark o’clock, I’ll be on it.

It looks like this will be a good tutorial. Caution is given not to put this online lest someone will try to buy it. After I finish the course, I’ll go back to near the beginning and start where the data has been inserted.

Day 4 of Dragon Dictate and Scrivener

September 23, 2014 6:12 AM BP: 138/85/70
When I started writing today, the very first thing that I did was to dictate Chapter 4 using Dragon Dictate inside Scrivener. The word count for this chapter was 928. The first two chapters were 1568 and 1687. The third chapter was 923 words. It’s a little bit early to make accurate observations regarding chapter lengths. I think by the time I get through Chapter 10, I’ll have a better idea of Lee Child’s style.

As I continue reading this book, Worth Dying For, I’m beginning to notice certain things.
1) there seems to be more dialogue I remember
2) I’m not sure what the grade school reading level is. I want to run the Fleishman test against this.
3) this is the 15th book in the Jack reacher series.
4) I’m reading the fourth in a series for my daily reading. It is called Running Blind.
5) I’m looking forward to reading them all again.
Needs to be backed up later in the day. Today is Dark Tuesday, a day of preventive maintenance.
WoW Data: MamaSlammer, gnome mage: total time played: 1 day, 4 hours, 42 minutes
this morning:level 50 and 6 bars (97,713/115,700)
yesterday morning: level 45 and 5 bars (23,269/96,300)
Delta 5 levels and 1 bar
Proposed Activities for the Day
1) I need to do some research as to why MP4 files do not display well on Firefox.
2) Need to find out why the plugin I got to show MP4/MOV files doesn’t do the sound also

Spent a couple of hours with the JW Players and could never get sound. Will try to send a message to them tomorrow.

mightyfineGot cheeseburgers and fries from Mighty Fine for mama and me. Heck, we’re already fat. No harm done except for the fat, the sugar, the cholesterol… oh, my. May have to wait a few days for the next one. But they were sooooo good.

spinnersConducted my WordPress for Newbies Meetup tonight at Spinners Bar and Grill. Had 14 who signed up and 7 who showed up. Bout right for attendance. A couple of folks asked some really good questions but as I had expected some of them were beyond the basics that I had said I would be presenting. No problem. Had I been an attendee I most likely have asked questions that were beyond the scope of the presentation.

Day 3 of Using Dragon Dictate and Scrivener

Hair plugs gone awry.

Hair plugs gone awry.

September 22, 2014 5:27 AM
I’m preparing to dictate Chapter 3 of the book, Worth Dying For by Lee Child. This is part of my continuing effort to learn Dragon Dictate and Scrivener. As I write this, my tools are Dragon Dictate and the text editor, TextMate. I will be back to this blog after finishing dictating chapter 3 to Scrivener. FYI, the microphone that I’m using for this exercise is a Sound Blaster Tactic 3-D Fury headset. The most important thing about that statement is that this is one of the headsets that works well with Dragon Dictate. Not all headset microphones do.
Chapter 3 contained 923 words composed by 4991 characters. It took me about 28 minutes to read aloud. Reading this book aloud is a double treat. Lee Child, at the moment is my favorite author. He has written at least 18 novels about Jack Reacher. When I read silently, I tend to scan the words instead of carefully reading them as I’m doing now that I’m dictating the story. Reading silently and scanning as I have done causes me to not get the entire feel for how Child writes his stories and why they are so damned interesting. I don’t believe that I’ve told this little tidbit before to my blog but the last time around I began reading the Child novels from book 1 through the end I read them consecutively and I believe there were 17 of them at the time. That says something about the author or  that says something about me. I’ll leave it for you to decide.

Proposed Activities For The Day
0) I will pick up my friend Marsha at the Maunde Toyota service area at about 7:30 AM.
1) My friend Jan, has an expressed desire for me to create an e-commerce capability for her website, So far, I have never created such a capability. Today I intend to find a good source of how-to information about online e-commerce. I suppose that online and e-commerce are redundant. E-commerce by definition is online commerce.
2) I need to give an email message to the host of tomorrow night’s meet up to ensure that he has a screen, or sheet, or some material against which I can project my presentation. Note: I purchased my own projector this past week so that  I would not have to be dependent on others for the same service. And that I would not be obligated to reciprocate the favor.
3) I want to follow up on Jimmy Basquez’s email regarding a possible new sponsor for our meet up.
4) I will write a check to Washington National Insurance Company for the October premium.
5) I’ll write a check to Naomi for three weeks of housecleaning.
6) Glenna and I will pick up Thomas from daycare at about 4 PM.
7) I will tend to Thomas until his mother or father picks him up which will be anywhere from 5:30 PM to 6 PM. Note: we will watch a lot of Thomas the train videos or whatever looks good on YouTube.
8) Sometime during the day, I’ll play an hour or so with my World of Warcraft character, a gnome mage to increase her path toward level 60.
9) Between 7:30 PM and 8:30 PM, my friend Dwight and I will play our level 90 druids, increasing their fishing and cooking abilities in Pandaria. Note: this doesn’t have to make sense to you unless you are a World of Warcraft player.
10) I need to find a selfless activity that I can do anonymously for a stranger or for another person. Note: I have a lot of karma to pay back. Does one pay back karma? Whatever, I do have some paybacks due.

As I look at my site, I see that I neglected to post results for Saturday. Damn.
I did write 1082 words on Saturday and posted it as a blog. So it’s on record that I did indeed write more than my 750 word goal each day this past week. I will not let this mistake influence my thoughts about my writing success. But I suppose it is a comment on my attention to detail.

So, including this post and my dictation of chapter 3 of the novel I’ve written a total of 1677 words today by dictating to either TextMate or to Scrivener. I’m short of 2000 words by 323 words. I’ll continue to add to this post as the day continues.

Exploration of Dragon Dictate and Scrivener Continues

September 21, 2014 5:09 AM BP: 129/90/74 MAM:99999,99280
WoW Data: MamaSlammer, gnome mage: total time played: 21 hours, 6 minutes
this morning:level 42 and 18 1/2 bars (77,598/82,800)
yesterday morning: level 41 and 3 bars (12,257/78,500)
Delta 1 level and 15 1/2 bars
Okay, it’s Sunday morning and I see nothing appearing on my screen. Now there is. Okay made a mistake this morning by looking at Facebook before beginning my daily writing. I need to work on saving my Facebook looks until I have nothing better to do.

It is now 5:17 AM and I am going to start what I hope will become a daily ritual of using Dragon Dictate and Scrivener to capture at least 2000 words a day from Lee child’s book, Worth Dying For. I’ll be back once I’ve recorded at least 2000 words.
6:13 AM Okay looks I’ve been dictating for 56 minutes. I completed what I had started for chapter 1 and all of chapter 2. Chapter 1 contained 1568 words and chapter 2 contained 1687 words. I had already done 191 words as a test of using Dragon Dictate with Scrivener. So my daily total for September 21, was 3064 words, approximately 50% more than I had intended to do. Tomorrow, I will do chapter 3, and see how many total words there are in that chapter.
Goal: Find a happy medium of around 2000 words per day for that effort.

Sunday With My Buddy

Had my fun. Need my rest.

Had my fun. Need my rest.

Hope those other kids don't peepee in my pool.

Hope those other kids don’t peepee in my pool.

This morning, Thomas, his mother, and I visited the Thinkery. What we were not aware of was that today was free admission day for all museums in Austin Texas. When we arrived slightly before opening time at 10 AM, we found a very long line waiting for admittance. As we approached the line, we also noticed a much shorter line set for members only. Since we’ve been members for a whole week, we gratefully entered the shorter line and were inside within five minutes of arrival.

After his one previous visit, Thomas was an old expert who knew exactly what he wanted to do. First he checked out the water display, then he checked out the lights display, then he went outside and climbed into the little kiddy pool. This was not a disaster because we had anticipated this action and he was dressed in water suitable clothing. He contentedly played in the water with little contemporaries running up and down in front of him and around him and through him while he puttered with his little boats. All in all we were only there for about an hour, but on his way home he fell asleep in his car seat which indicated that it had a pretty good time he was tired. What a nice way to spend on Sunday morning.

It Pays to Read Instructions (or RTFM)
A couple of months ago, we switched from AT&T to Time Warner Cable (TWC). The switch was not without pain. Just as I had difficulties switching from Windows to Macintosh, so too, I’m having problems switching from AT&T to TWC. The major problem is assuming that I can use the new system without reading instructions while using the same techniques that I use for the past system.

It ain’t so.

So today I set about rectifying my difficulties. After talking to my wife and finding out all she knew about the new system, I turned to the brochure given to us by TWC. And lo and behold, I discovered capabilities beyond my wildest expectations. How many times has this happened to me in the past?

You can’t allow yourself to be too busy to learn new things. This truth should be self evident. After all, how many times have I not done it and have been frustrated, and griped?
NOTE: that sounded a little Mark Twain-ish.

Activities for the Coming Week
1)Tuesday night, Jimmy Basquez and I will present the second meeting of the WordPress for Newbies Meetup. Our first meeting was two weeks ago where I showed how to get a domain name, get a web host, connect them together, and install WordPress.
Tuesday night, I will demonstrate how to use the WordPress dashboard.
It appears  that we have 14 people with positive RSVP. If the past is any indicator we will be lucky to have about seven. Of those 14 and seven, two of them are Jimmy and me. Such is the way of meet ups.
2) Now that I have done the majority of Jan’s new website at, I need to begin applying myself to learn how to do e-commerce so that we can offer her e-books online for sale.

The time is currently 1800 hours but for you non-military types, the little hand is on the six and a big hand is on the 12. My daily word output has been 3064 words for the Lee Child book plus 831 words for this document for a grand total of 3895. All in all, a very satisfying quantity.

Drop me a comment. Tell me how you liked today’s post. Tell me what you’d like me to talk about more.

The Blogger Has Returned via Dragon Dictate

IMG_0861-225x300Yes, I’ve been away for a while. But now I’m back, even if it’s just for this blog. There’s no way that you can know this unless I tell you but this entire blog, including the title, has been created using Dragon Dictate, the Mac version of Dragon Naturally Speaking. I don’t have carpal tunnel syndrome. I am not disabled. I am an Explorer and I continue to look for ways to do the things I like to do. The thing, liking to be done right now, is to break my fast from daily blogging. So, here is my offering for today.


September 20, 2014 7:18 AM BP: 133/86/70 MAM:99280/98355
WoW Data: MamaSlammer, gnome mage:
this morning: level 41 and 3 bars (12,257/78,500)
yesterday morning: level 37 and 1 bar
Delta 4 levels and 2 bars
The normal workweek is done, but since I don’t observe normal workweeks, it’s Saturday, another day of hopeful creative thought, new ideas, and new ways to better myself. It is 7:40 AM, about two hours past my normal get up time.

Here are some topics I’d like to discuss today:
1) my use of Dragon Dictate
2) my continuing use of Scrivener
3) dictating over 2000 words each day in preparation for NaNoWriMo
4) Beginning to Blog Again on ExploringNewMedia-this document is
5) Sponsorship for the WordPress for Newbies Meet up-not done
6) plan on planning, setting schedules, meeting my milestones-not done

Dragon Dictate For Mac, Version 4.0 is a program I use to interact with my text editor and various other programs such as Scrivener, Textmate, GMAIL, my Internet messenger program (Adium), and various other programs. It was preceded by a program called Mac Speech. So far I’m liking Dragon Dictate much better. I’m still in the process of getting it to accept my particular speech patterns and the mixture of accents ranging from Kentucky to New York to California to Texas to Japan. While I think I don’t have an accent, it’s probably right now a Texas accent since I have lived in Texas for the last 31 years.

Dragon Dictate does require a certain amount of training but once you get that done you can be pretty sure that whatever you say will most of the time be recognized and displayed on your computer screen.

I intend to use Dragon Dictate and Scrivener for my NaNoWriMo participation in November 2014. My content probably will not be original but the time spent will allow me to learn both Dragon Dictate and Scrivener better. The goal for NaNoWriMo is to write at least 50,000 words in 30 days. If you do the math you will see that this averages 1667 words per day. My intent is to dictate at least 2000 words or more each day. The book I have chosen as the source of my material is written by Lee Child and is called Worth Dying For. I’m not sure how long it is but by the end of NaNoWriMo I’ll be able to tell you how many words there are, how many chapters there are and various other things. I also intend to use my daily NaNoWriMo content as the accomplishment of my daily 750 word project.

Ugh: As I was dictating the previous paragraph, I noticed once again the appearance of extraneous characters at the end of my sentence. And it just happened again; a large E showed up. That E is still there and its case changes when a punctuation mark is placed at the end of the sentence. Even though I just erased that capital E, it appeared once again and is now leading the sentence toward the bottom of the page. More exploring is required on my part to find out why this is happening. I’ve repositioned the microphone at various distances from the corner of my mouth, thinking that my nose breathing may have something to do with it or my exhalations from my mouth had something to do with it. At this point neither seems to have an effect.There doesn’t seem to be any extraneous noise in the room or in my environment that would cause this extra character to show up at the end of the sentence. And the strange thing is that there seems to be only one character showing up at any given time. Dragon Dictate, be nice to me.


Since September 8, 2013 I’ve been writing at least a 750 words per day. At least that’s what my goal has been. I’ve successfully accomplished that task in 366 of the 378 days allotted to that task. So that’s a 97% success rate and I consider that very excellent on my part. The words have been written using my MacBook Pro running my text editor called TextMate. I usually begin writing before 6 AM every day and have written my 750 words or so by 6:30 AM. This is when my thoughts are together about what I want to write. If I begin with no defined topic, it can take me an hour to write 750 words. So usually the night before, I think of the topic that I want to write about the next morning and let it bounce around in my skull while I sleep.

But it just seemed to take too long to get those words to paper. Then one day I says to myself, “Self, there must be a faster way of getting your thoughts on paper than with your lousy touch typing that has degraded since your high school typing classes.” and then, my Self responded to me, “You bought Dragon Dictate for Mac several years ago. Why not use it?”

So I dug down into my password account, found the login information for my Dragon Dictate app, dusted it off, validated the license, fired it up, and begin dictating instead of typing. I’m not accustomed to dictating, however, after going through the training exercises where I read several passages in finding an amazing amount of success at getting words down on paper. Or is it getting digital representations on the screen?

This entire post has been created using Dragon Dictate and my text editor, TextMate. While Dragon Dictate does a good job of getting the words onto the screen is my responsibility to do the editing, make sure I have the words spelled correctly and that they are grammatically correct. I’ll have to accept all blame or praise for that job.

Okay, please note that this is the getting involved again blog for ExploringNewMedia. Please comment if you like what I’ve done or if you don’t like what I’ve done. Let me hear you breathing out there. Let me know that you read this and something struck an accord with you. Since I’m finding this to be much more pleasurable than what I’ve been doing in the past for blogging, I expect that there will be more blogs in the future on a more frequent basis. So, that’s it for this blog. Say something to me in the comments.

BTW, this blog is 1082 words long.

SiteSetupKit Project – Day 0

OK, my middle name is ‘procrastination’. I mean to do things. I talk about doing things. I don’t do them. Talk is cheap but action, ah, action is difficult. Trouble is I’ve been guilty of trying to get finished with my project before I start to write about it.

STOP. I need to stop with that line of thought

So, here goes. I’ve started a project that I intend to see to the end, wherever that might be. It WILL be a complete redesign of the current website using the SiteSetupKit course and WordPress, Genesis Framework, and Dynamik. Read about it here as it unveils.

Writing Habit Mastery – Habit 8: Focus on Small Writing Projects (at First)

Writing Habit Mastery – How to Write 2,000 Words a Day and Forever Cure Writer’s Block by Steve Scott continues to me my topic of interest after several days.

Today, I will talk about Habit 8: Focus on Small Writing Projects (at First)

Repeating a quote by Ray Bradbury that I posted a few days ago, “Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad stories in a row.”

As I’ve thought about writing purposefully, I’ve thought of a few hundred pages per book. Based on what my learning has been, a typical page of text in a book is about 250 words. So, a nice novel would be about 250 pages long thus 62,500 words.

I wrote in the 2013 National Novel Writers Month (NaNoWriMo) contest this past November and believe me, it is no easy task to be writing close to that level. The object of the contests was to write at least 50,000 words during the month. This is an average of 1,667 words per day. It was very hard to do. Life has a way in intruding – sickness, vacations, work, family.

Now my new friend, Steve Scott (he doesn’t know he’s my friend) comes along and tells me how to write 2,000 words a day and makes me believe I can consistently meet that goal if I create the right habits as expounded in this book. I’m happy.

But…there’s always a but, isn’t there? But since I’m really a beginning writer, I don’t have the experience of taking on a big project to create even an average length novel. So, I’m lowering my sights just a bit and am considering what it would be like to write a shorter story – a short story. I don’t know how long it will take or how many words it will be – yet.

As Steve says, those of us who have not tackled a large writing project have no idea of the stamina required. Not at first. Small incremental success will certainly help us move on to bigger and better accomplishments.

Writing at this level is very challenging. Things become unwieldy. I go to sleep and lose part of my working knowledge of my project. It’s like RAM getting initialized to zero when the power is removed. You also get too familiar with the project and get tired of writing about the same thing every day. The NaNoWriMo project left me drained. After only one month. With no editing. Just getting it down on paper. Sure it felt good when I was done but I thought of giving up almost every day after the first week.

Steve says to create smaller pieces of work. Then use them to later scale up into a larger project or projects.

  • He suggests that instead of creating something like the next Titanic, make something akin to a small budget independent film for people to love.
  • Write short stories or a novella before swinging for the  right field fence. There should be no shame in publishing a handful of short stories or a novella. This will boost your writing chops and your writing habits.
  • Instead of a massive blog, create a series of 2 to 3 blogs during the week.
  • Take on a small eBook on a topic you know well before taking on a longer or more advanced topic requiring lots of research.

Beware that you want to build a sustainable writing habit. If you start off too fast, you may:

  • burn out and quit before you finish
  • get totally bogged down in details
  • lose interest in the topic
  • perhaps write something so confusing that it can’t be given away, let alone sold
  • maybe just give up writing forever

You want to build a habit that allows you to always reach the finish line energized, and ready for the next writing project. By setting and meeting smaller goals, you are conditioning yourself for developing skills and habits that can eventually lead you to those larger, more involved projects.

Your New Habit
Break the big job up into smaller chunks with realistic deadlines. Celebrate the completion of each small project. Get feedback from others and use is as applicable to lead you to what you will create next.

Writing Habit Mastery – Habit 5: Find the Best Location

Writing Habit Mastery – How to Write 2,000 Words a Day and Forever Cure Writer’s Block by Steve Scott  continues to me my topic of interest after several days.

Today I shall discuss Habit 5: Find the Best Location.

Steve’s beginning comments on this topic tell why location matters and has a direct impact on your ability to create and sustain a writing habit.

A good location is one where you can:

  • Focus
  • Remain undisturbed
  •  Feel Inspired
  •  Access easily (within a 10 minute commute)

The importance of a primary writing place conditions you to want to write when you enter it.

Home or Away? Some people write best at home. It’s convenient. It’s familiar. Some find it a distraction with tasks such as taking out the garbage, doing the laundry, doing dishes, etc. Some people like the background buzz found in restaurants and coffee shops a good white noise.

My thoughts on both these: I like to write at home because all my kids are grown and gone. It’s just my wife and me and a dog and a cat. (The meowy, insistent cat COULD go.) I get up much earlier than my wife. And much earlier than my part of the world. So, no phone calls, no honey do’s (yet). I got my music, I got the pomodoro website, keeping track of my time. So this is a good location.

I have tried writing at work. It goes okay in a limited sense. I have an office in a friend’s business that I use for half a day each weekday. I go there at about 7:30am and cut out at about 11:30am. While there, I feel that I’m ‘on call’. This is my payment for use of the office and it is a fair one and easy to support. I’m usually there an hour ahead of the first arrival. I can write there for an hour and sometimes do.  I write my 750 words with, turn them into a blog post on and send out Tweet, Facebook, and Google Plus notices.

I have tried writing at Kneaded Pleasures, a nearby restaurant catering heavily to the breakfast trade. This is a definite productivity killer for me. I’m a people watcher. I will look up from my keyboard as soon as I sense, hear, feel the presence of the next customer. So no go for restaurants or coffee shops.

Another place I’ve tried is the upstairs reading and browsing area of my local Barnes and Noble. That is not too bad but that location is not available until 9am and I’m ready to write much earlier than that.

Let’s look in more detail at writing at home. What do I have?
an office. Used to be a kid’s bedroom. I’ve had 3 kids who have occupied this room, one at a time. It is in a good location in the house, is roomy and has good light, a desk, wraparound, glass topped with more room than necessary for my task. Got to clean off the debris some day. Probably upwards to 500 individual items scatterer here and there. Right now I can see: 2 medicine bottles, a pair of glasses, two cans of pens and pencils, a blood pressure monitor, my iPad, a 27 inch iMac, a 21 inch Apple monitor, stacks of papers, a partial container of pistachios, a Mother’s Day card from ToMas to his grandmother (dont’ ask why), a cup of coffee, 2 boxes of Slicci .25mm pens, a box of drawing pencils ranging from 2h to 6b, a Sony A65 camera remote control, a box of kitchen matches, a scented candle, a digital clock from my Lockheed days (22 years ago), an extra MacBook Pro, AT&T router for my Internet, TV, phone pleasure, parts of my podcasting equipment.

Wow, if I cleaned that stuff off, I’d have a place to take a nap.

I have both a front and back porch where I could write. The front porch is probably not going to work because it faces the street and I’d have to check out every walk and / or drive by. The back porch is covered, overlooks a large backyard with a  [one pomodoro done. time for five minutes rest.  715 words.] quiet atmosphere except for the squirrels and my dog.

There is a nice table in the corner of our family room that is near an electrical outlet, has sufficient light and would work for my time of writing. I COULD use that if I wanted to but it is just an alternative. Where I am is where I’ve been and where I can knock out 700 words or so per pomodoro.

Of all the possibilities, I believe the office, with a door, is my best solution.

Now how about decorations? I hadn’t thought too much about that. Perhaps the clutter has me overwhelmed. Steve suggests some things like:
a list of writing affirmations
Quotes from successful authors
Pictures or quotes from experts on my topic du jour
Storyboard of the plot or outline of my book
Photo ideas of my characters
Pictures of writers who inspire me
Also items such as post-it notes, an organizer, all kinds of pens, pencils, markers or perhaps just one of two quality items, staplers, staple pullers.

Okay, that was at home. How about away?
I’ve already stated some of my reluctance to work outside my comfy home office but let me examine some thoughts about outside possibilities.
Places I have written include Barnes and Noble, Kneaded Pleasures, Starbucks, Genuine Joe’s Coffee House, La Madeleine, and in the office at the Business Success Center.

I carry a backpack with notebooks, pens, various pieces of Apple cables and connectors, business cards, headphones, portable microphone, a digital recorder, a digital camera. Most times this is enough. If I need something I haven’t stowed away in the bulging backpack, I load it up as soon as I get home.

I looked at Panera Bread the other day. Of all the places I’ve seen, it may be the most valuable. There are electrical outlets built into most booths. The store is sprawling with the opportunity to find a fairly secluded writing location. I could go to one of the corners and face away from the rest of the store, wear headphones to listen to my music thereby dampening out the surrounding conversations and kitchen noises. Other benefits: they open at 6am. I could get my breakfast before or after a few pomodoros. I think I’m talking myself into giving it a chance.

Steve suggests that you keep an Excel file so you can measure your productivity at different locations. You may feel more like an author when you’re at a local coffee shop but you may get more done when alone in your home office. The key is to find what works for you.

Choose at least two different locations – one at home and one away from home. If you only have one location and it becomes unavailable for some reason, you might not write. OH NO. You’ve got to write.

The New Habit. Choose a location (or two) as your regular writing spot. Get there at your scheduled time and write.

That’s 20 minutes into my second pomodoro. I have written 1,214 of my daily 2000 word goal. I will continue later in the day. Question right now is should I continue writing new content or should I polish the current content and put it into my blog? Hmm, I’ll think about that after breakfast.