nano 2015

Taming the Rhino

I’ve spent this week trying to get my focus back. It’s been a struggle, but I thought that if I have the Rhino a better-maintained habitat, he might be more amenable to working his magic next month.

I have discovered over the years that while my thoughts might be disordered at times, my work space can’t be. If it’s not clean, then I have a really hard time working. Maybe it’s a good thing, then, that writers (like me) are prone to anxiety and depression, and that my response to this condition is ritual cleaning?

Routine is good, but I can’t work in the same space every single day. I try to work at my desk (below) but sometimes a fresh perspective help. My other favorite spots include a local Panera (mainly because of the ginger peach tea, hot chocolate, and pastries) and a study carol at the local library. The two most important things are that there be a power source for the laptop, and room to spread out my notes.

mapThe newly organized Rhino habitat is laid out as follows:

  1. Rhino fuel.
  2. Noise cancelling headphones. I like these. I put them on even without music sometimes just because they make the world go away.
  3. Beverage of choice, preferably caffeinated.
  4. Outlines, character profiles, and pretty much anything for the story that has been produced via typewriter
  5. Typewriter in question (this one is the Sterling)
  6. To do list
  7. Tunes. Since I’m writing for the 1920s, I’m currently listening to the 1920s Radio Network, the soundtracks for seasons 1 & 2 of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, the Metropolis Soundtrack, and a selection of Amazon playlists full of instrumental movie mood music.
  8. Backup. This is a 32gb flash drive I picked up for $10. It can hold all of the documents on my computer and most of the pictures. I’ve also got two web-based backups.
  9. Writing device of choice. Still using the laptop with Scrivener for pretty much everything.

Additionally, a few days ago while stuck on a story, I made a list of everything I’m working on (color coded by genre) and made a list of where it’s going and what needs to be done to get it there:


If you can’t read my handwriting, the header reads Story, Status, Estimated Length, Hangups, and Notes. The status section lists whether the story is a work in progress, a concept under development, or a completed novel that is in revision. The green marks are status bars showing the percentage of completion. The notes section is a numbered list of tasks that will help me overcome the hangups listed in the preceding column.

I did eventually enter this into Excel, but I’m rather fond of the color coding and the staus bars.

Anyone else doing some serious Rhino herding this week?



1 thought on “Taming the Rhino”

  1. Love the list. Much nicer than any spreadsheet.

    I’m one of those ‘if it’s cluttered, I can’t work’ people. One day I’ll clean off my desk and organize my office. House is just way too small.

    One of my favorite reading and writing spots has been a a quiet back corner of a local pub. I found in college I could hide in a quite spot like that to do my homework, have a brew, and depending on the quality of the place even get some good food quite cheaply. Got married, had children, now I use the library.


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