Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sensory Writing

I've just tried out an application for writers which is different from any other software I've used before. Delightful is the word I would use to describe Ommwriter. You get a snow white screen or snow scene with a barely defined field for writing and a column of small black control buttons to the right, both useful and easy to tune out. There are no toolbars or words on the page to distract you. The background sounds, if you choose to have one, are magical - tiny bell-like wind chimes, waves lapping on the shore, gongs echoing, birds singing, crickets chirping, a brook running, mostly sounds from nature. The keyboard produces little noises as you type, like a ping pong, water dripping, faint clicking noises, enough to make you aware of progress. If you select the italic script, it flows like ink onto the page. The novelty at first is a little distracting, but I could very easily get lost in this world and tune out the rest. I'd highly recommend using headphones for stereo effect. You'll need Mac OS 10.5.0 or higher. Oh, and it's free. No PC version is available yet.

Saturday, January 09, 2010


I made some resolutions this year. Usually I don't bother, but I've been talking to my 7th graders about the importance of planning and working towards a goal, so it seemed only right that I practice what I preach. My primary objective this year is to write on a regular basis, but I'd actually like to finish a piece of work.

My blog's had a facelift to inspire me with a new look. I've pulled a couple of guides from my bookshelves to provide me with exercises when I'm stuck for anything to write about: The Creative Writing Coursebook from the University of East Anglia and Janet Borroway's Writing Fiction, A Guide to Narrative Craft. I know that the morning pages (Julia Cameron's idea) help to prime the pump, but I keep going over old territory. I need a little more structure.

Here's an exercise from Julia Bell at UEA: "Write down five sounds that you can hear. Then list the things you associate with those sounds. A car engine may remind you of being picked up after school, clanking crockery of that summer you worked at Pizza Pie, an aeroplane of your holiday to Ibiza." See where that leads. So excuse me while I go off to play...

Interesting exercise. The sounds often trigger a whole series of memories, a recurring pattern that could be used as a metaphor. They take you straight back to a place and time where you can see and hear and smell all of the details.