Arbortext Editor is a software program that lets you do "structured writing"---a special kind of writing in which every piece of content you compose follows one or more specific "rules." In theory this helps writers to develop consistent, high-quality content. The problem is that the tool has a lot of shortcomings. Here's my wishlist of things to improve.
As an aspiring author and dad whose scarcest resource is time, I was motivated by a recent interview with Diana Gabaldon, author of the 'Outlander' series. She speaks candidly about outlining, parenting, and writing at midnight.
In 'Steal Like an Artist,' Austin Kleon encourages artists of all stripes to curate a collection of whatever captures their imagination, whether pictures, movies, books, quotes, etc.---things that resonate powerfully with your personal artistic tastes. In that spirit, I recently added something to my collection that I think other writers of fiction might appreciate, and in particular writers of fantasy fiction.
The reason I first got into Dungeons and Dragons was to use my imagination to go on Tolkien-esque quests, and to get ideas for fantasy fiction stories I would like to write one day. I achieved both of these goals: D&D is a wellspring of inspiration for fantasy writers, and an excellent narrative testing ground for anyone brave enough to try their hand at being a Dungeon Master. But looking back I can also see how the game allowed me and my friends to encounter our mythical western roots. We weren't just goofing off and having fun (though there was plenty of that), we were accessing what James Poulos calls our "historical memory" whenever we fought against monsters, talked with gods and mystics, bought medieval adventuring gear, and explored castles and temples.
Your typical preventive health advice---get more sleep, move around, eat your broccoli, and so on---is so dull and obvious that no one pays attention to it. But it's precisely the advice we need.
Martin Silenus in 'Hyperion' waxes poetic on the unique power of words, and quotes Russell Bertrand along the way: “Language serves not only to express thought but to make possible thoughts which could not exist without it.”
Last November I published an article in Intercom, a magazine produced by the Society for Technical Communication. It was paywalled at the time, but the exclusive rights period has since expired so I have copied it here. Synopsis: A regular part of the technical writer's job is to design document templates that help others jumpstart the writing process. How do our template design strategies change as more documentation moves from the print medium to web browsers and mobile devices?