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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What Helps You Blog Better?

Hey everyone. It is me, Tim Brannan from The Other Side, again!  I am a Role-Playing game author so I use my blog as a platform to talk about my books, but also to share with others in my blogging community to sorts of things I like to write about.  So RPGs, horror and geek-culture.

Often times when we write about writing in general and blogging in particular we talk a lot about where ideas come from, how to get more readers or even how much writing everyday is important.  This is all true, and important, but that is not the type of tools I mean today.


Look down.  There. See it, it's your keyboard.  What is your relationship with your keyboard?

I blog every day.  I write in addition to that and there is that day job too.  I spend a lot of time with my fingers on my keyboard.  My favorite keyboard is the one I have at home, the Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000. It is the silver one and long, long out of stock.  I wrote Ghosts of Albion on it and it is by far the most comfortable keyboard I have ever used.  I never expected to find a replacement for my old beatup Gateway 2000 124 key programmable keyboard, but this one is fantastic.

Here is my main computer, Frankencomputer (I built it from spare parts).  It's not much more than a web-machine and word processor which is what I want when I am writing.  The keyboard is actually worth more to me than the rest of the computer.  If I am going to sit and pound away on a keyboard then it needs to be comfortable to me.

This is my second 6000 keyboard in truth.  I bought this one off of eBay for an ungodly price and still consider it money well spent.  It has the right curve for my hands and can elevate to the right height so I don't get fatigue while typing. Plus it is the same keyboard Weird Al has in his song "White & Nerdy".  A song that is not about me at all. Really. Honest.


I was reading the other day that George R. R. Martin, when he is not plotting to kill every character you love, sits in front of his old DOS machine and types his books into WordStar 4.0.  Piers Anthony once mentioned that back in the day he paid a programmer to reverse engineer his favorite word processor from CP/M to MS-DOS. Laurel K. Hamilton did her first writing on a manual typewriter and still thinks of things in terms of page counts and not word counts.  I am sure there are many more examples, but the point is clear. We get used to something for our writing and we like to stick with it.   Myself, I am an Microsoft Word fan.  I have been using it for years, since version 1.1 and Office 4.3.  I have gotten very comfortable with it and have lost count of the number of hours I have spent in it.

So then am I switching over to Google Drive?
Well while I still use Word one of the things it promised and never really delivered on was real time collaboration.   With the Google Drive word processor I can work with others and see their edits real time. We can chat and discuss what it is we are doing and why.  Plus I have lost count of the number of docs I have lost carting them from one computer to another, either on floppy disk or flash drive. And then when I manage to get it to another computer (say from work to home) I have to deal with whether or not the computer can read the file format and version control.  The only thing worse than loosing a document is to spend hours adding to a draft that is already 3 revisions old.

So how about you?
What are your writing needs? Special keyboard? Software? Maybe it is your best comfy chair.

Tell us all about it.

Like what I do?
Let me know by voting for me for "Best Blog" in the 2014 ENnie Awards for Role-Playing Games.
Go to Best Blog and put a "1" next to "The Other Side". Thanks so much!
Voting ends on July 30.

About the Author  
Timothy S. Brannan is the author of The Other Side blog, He has worked on a number of games including the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG", and is the author of “The Ghosts of Albion RPG”, “The Witch”, “Eldritch Witchery” and the upcoming “Strange Brew” which is currently in a Kickstarter Campaign.


  1. Not using Google Drive.
    I tend to upgrade computers every three years. I'm all about the faster, stronger computer. My writing doesn't need it, but most of the programs I run require a lot of memory to run.
    And my keyboard is a Saitek Eclipse II that glows three different colors. Yeah, it's awesome.
    Hope you're doing well in the poll!

  2. I am a score/soundtrack junkie... there always has to be music in the background. For my computer I squeeze it until I cannot handle the slow paced response... I am upgrading to new machine as we speak...

  3. Hi
    Nice to be here again after a bit gap.
    This is really an interesting post.
    Of course in our blogging time these
    gadgets play great role. especially the
    computer, keyboard, monitor, etc are
    indeed worth mentioning in the list.
    Yeah, of course a comfortable chair
    is one of the main thing, of course
    these days sitting more is not good
    and there are many alternatives to this
    a table highly placed to stand and operate the computer.
    I think in many places homes and offices many are using
    this, I prefer to have one and of course my husband created
    some adjustment and working with that. Indeed some times
    i too use that :-) that is my more comfortable one in blogging :-)
    We wish you a success in the polling
    Best Regards
    ~ Ann P V

  4. I stick with word and use office 2003 because I like it and I can copy and paste to Blogger without any hassle. I have seen in the past one or two folk have had problems with this but I wonder if they are using a newer version of word. And I have a very old IMB keyboard that has just the right feel and key weight for me (OK I still spell and type badly) so I will stick with that until it fails and then I will panic a lot. My PC is an old (about 12 years) third hand college and then work machine that was destined for the scrap heap about two years ago but I added some extra ram and its OK . I do try and keep everything I write backed up to an external hard drive, old machines can be fickle and mine for absolutely no reason will sometimes switch itself off have a think and then fire up again. Still I do that myself so I cant complain too much.

  5. I still miss MacWriteII and ClarisWorks, even the newer AppleWorks. Someday I'm going to buy back my first two computers, the 152K Mac and the '93 color Mac, just so I can finally use the old familiar programs again and not have so many distractions. The '93 Mac did have dial-up Internet, but it couldn't load very large pages, and was very simple. It was so much easier to just write on those machines. I've gotten used to Word, but that doesn't mean I like it. It's not as user-friendly as the older word processing programs. I desperately need a new computer, and I'm not looking forward to leaving Word 2004 for a newer version that must be even more complicated.

  6. I have a bad back complete with metal and screws, so a comfy chair is a must. And music. I need music to write. My computer is pretty old. I long to get a laptop just for writing, so I don't have to be restricted at my desk. It would have Microsoft Word and no Internet!

  7. This is the kind of stuff I need to start thinking more about. Good info. Thanks for adding to the A to Z Blog info banks.


  8. I find I can blog anywhere - right now I'm on the settee with the telly on! Probably because being verbose has never been a problem lol! Software doesn't really bother me. The main computer is Word 2007, one laptop has Linux and the other nothing at all! For me, as long as the inspiration is there, I don't mind what I use.
    Suzanne @ Suzannes Tribe

  9. I miss D&D so much!
    Geez, I'm so old!

    I write in a notebook when I'm not home and work on Word when I am. Creature of habit.

    Nice post!


  10. I don't actually have internet access at home, other than on my phone so I'm still trying to find an app that'll work me on that.

    At home I use the free Microsoft blogging software, but then copy and paste the contents into my blog when I get online (rather than letting it upload itself because I find this gives me an extra shot at proof-reading and allows me to check everything is formatted just right).


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