Category: Writing

Freewrite, by AstrohausThough I haven’t heard from Astrohaus yet — come on, guys! — I still think often of the Freewrite (link) and how much I’d like to put one to the test.  If you haven’t read about my desire to acquire one, check out the (link) to an entry where I talk about it.

In that entry, I mentioned the Freewrite was originally called the Hemingwrite.  I love that name, and I’m sorry they changed it, though I know Hemingway doesn’t have the same cachet he used to.  Which is a damned shame, I’d like to say, because “Big Two-Hearted River” (link) is the single best piece of fiction ever wrought by the hand of man.  And, no, I’m not engaging in hyperbole there.  If I ever write something a tenth as good as “River,” I’ll die happy.

Freewrite is a perfectly good name, but why “Hemingwrite” in the first place?  Well, it turns out it was called such a thing for two reasons: 1) it was meant to be used in the same manner in which Hemingway wrote his own fiction, and 2) because it was specifically designed to resemble the Royal Quiet De Luxe Hemingway preferred.

Ernest HemingwayThis latter is one of those funny things, because the day I discovered the Freewrite, I had been looking at old Royal Quiet De Luxe typewriters as a cheap, simple, portable writing option, both because the Quiet De Luxe was (and is) an excellent typewriter, and because I’m a Hemingway fanboy and it seemed like a cool thing to do.

As far as drafting goes, it’s an interesting approach.  Because typewriters are necessarily different than word processors due to the limitations of physical keys striking a piece of paper versus a screen where a cursor can be clicked anywhere for instant editing, writing has to be done in perpetual forward motion.  Sure, you can backspace and XX over a false word or two, but for the most part a writer writes, then comes back to the text later with a red pencil.  Composition and editing/revision are separate steps, which is exactly what the Freewrite does.

I’m more interested in this thing all the time.


Rachael StephenIn my copious spare time, I enjoy perusing writing books and writing videos.  There are a ton of them, and most revolve around how to game the Amazon system with cranked-out dross “written to market” by squeezing as many short-term dollars out of the time between start and inevitable burnout.  Some are by legitimately bestselling authors who clearly have no idea how to teach, no matter how well they might have done personally in the business.  Still others charge $99 for what amounts to a series of rambling talks on various subjects and consider that a “class.”

Then you have folks like Rachael Stephen (link).  If you’ve never heard of her, don’t be surprised, because I hadn’t either.  YouTube‘s algorithm has done a singularly good job of hiding her videos from me, but eventually one did turn up.  I enjoyed it, which led to others, and now I’m telling you about her.  That ought to give you some idea of how insightful I find her work.

Maybe Stephen‘s actual writing isn’t for you.  That’s fine.  Maybe you don’t want to pay for her to consult with you on your plot.  That’s fine, too.  But take some time to watch her videos (link) on plotting, scene- and character-construction and just writing life in general.  You’ll find her personable, informative and, best of all, full of practical advice.  For someone who doesn’t have an exceptionally large footprint in the industry, she knows her stuff, and I guarantee you’ll find something of utility if you watch long enough.

At risk of sounding like a fortysomething creeper, I’d love the chance to connect with Stephen and chat about her approach to writing, both as an author and as a bestower of sage wisdom.  Rachael, if you’re out there, drop me a line at talktosam[at]samhawken[dot]com and let’s have a tête-à-tête.  I don’t know how much I can lend you from my experience, but at least I can say thanks for entertaining and educating me.


Since this was posted, Stephen has begun a Patreon campaign (link), which you can join for a single, solitary dollar.  Pretty good deal.





Freewrite, by AstrohausA writer needs good tools.  There’s no two ways about it.  Some can be quite simple: a good desk, a comfortable chair… that sort of thing.  It gets more complicated when it comes to writing instruments, because questions proliferate.  Do you like to work longhand, or with a keyboard?  Do you like notebooks or journals?  Do you prefer a laptop?  And setting has a bearing on this, depending on where and how and when you prefer to work.

For some years I used a MacBook Pro, and I was perfectly happy with it.  Eventually I switched to the iMac I currently use, though I liked the freedom of movement afforded by the MacBook.  However, here’s the thing: I don’t really need a backup machine so much as I need a well-designed and portable writing platform.  The barer-bones MacBooks are attractive, but they’re too small for my hands, and even then they’re really more device than I require.

I looked at Chromebooks, which people seem to like.  I wasn’t impressed.  They’re okay, and I suppose it would be all right to use one, but I’m not one hundred percent thrilled with the experience I had when testing them out.  I started seriously looking for a vintage Royal Quiet De Luxe, because all I really, really need is something for recording text.

But then I found Freewrite, and got curious.