Archive | Writing

2017 Freelance Writing Statistics

I didn’t write as much this year as I did in 2016.

I only wrote 21 new articles in 2017. Compared to 50 in 2016. I edited or rewrote ten pieces in 2017. Compared to 16 in 2016. As a result, my income from writing was 14.9% before tax. It was 18.8% of my pre-tax income in 2016.

The plan is to get back to 2016 levels of output in the forthcoming year. There is a lot to do I hear. Happy days.

2016 Freelance Writing Statistics

I wrote a post about my freelance writing output in 2015 a year ago. How did the 2016 writing output compare?

I wrote 50 new articles in 2016. As compared to 48 in 2015.

I edited, and rewrote, 16 articles by others. As compared to 24 in 2015.

I haven’t counted the words this year. It’s a meaningless metric. Articles are as long or as short as they need to be to get the ideas and information across.

I didn’t hit the 25% target for income from writing that I wanted to. It delivered 18.8% before Tax. I didn’t do as much writing as I’d hoped for a few months from May to July due to some very early starts. Getting up at 03:30 four days a week turns your brain to mush! Want to hit 25% at least in 2017.

Thanks again to those who asked me to do writing for them. Let’s create all the content in 2017 🙂

Testing Ulysses posting to WordPress

ulysses-macUlysses is a nice macOS and iOS application for writers. I prefer Scrivener myself for writing articles and fiction. But Ulysses can also post to WordPress Blogs. I’ve recently been having a few niggles with Blogo my WordPress posting app of choice. Weird text editing glitches and stuff. So I’m thinking of starting to use something else. So this post is a test to see what posts with images and links look like when composed and posted from Ulysses.

2015 Freelance Writing Statistics

Only 2 days left of 2015. Here are my stats for freelance technical writing I did this year.

I wrote 48 new articles that added up to 46310 words.

I also rewrote 24 other articles by others. There were 19412 words in total in those.

Writing delivered 19.2% of my income in 2015 before tax. I want to increase it to be at least 25% of my income in 2016. And then 100% at some point in the future a few years from now.

Some examples from 2015:
Building an Application Delivery Platform

DevOps – where software development and operations collaborate

Why Microsoft Lync is a business conversation first and foremost

Thanks to those reading this who commissioned me to do technical writing. I enjoyed it. I know you like the results. Looking forward to doing even more with you next year!

Throwing stuff out into the world

In November 2011 I completed NaNoWriMo for the 2nd time. Ended up with just over 50,000 words of a novel at the end of the month. I’ve added about 5000 more words since then. This year I decided to use November to add another 50,000 words to the story. I added just under 4000 last weekend. During that writing I decided that I needed to take a step back, and do some more detailed timeline planning for the story.

Thinking about that this week I had the idea to serialise the story. As David Gerrold, and many others, have said:

Your first million words are for practice. They don’t count. Remember that.

So why not practice in public? To that end I’m going to start posting segments of the story here as a serial. At least one per month. It’ll be interesting to get feedback on the story, as it progresses and grows. I’ll also get to experiment with Vellum, when creating eBook versions of the story. 

It’s difficult getting something out into the world. Whether it’s a book, a song, an app, or anything else creative. It’s very easy to fail to ship. Serialising a project makes it easier to get something out the door. Once that’s done other creative projects should be easier to finish and deliver. Hopefully.

My note taking tags

I recently started using tags in square brackets to tag notes in meetings, or to capture ideas that come to me on the go. For example:

[Note] The server needs to be running…

[Action] Do a report that summarises…

I started out with just the [Note] tag but I’ve been adding to it and I now have 23 of them. As you can imagine typing the square bracket around these tags is a pain. Especially on an iPhone. 

Enter iOS and OSX shortcuts. If you don’t know about them, Shortcuts on iOS and OSX allow you enter a bit of text and an associated replacement gets put into the text you are writing. So to get [Note] I have the following setup:

sbnote -> [Note] 

I just type sbnote. And [Note] is inserted instead when I hit the space bar. Really handy. A nice thing is that the shortcuts sync between all my iOS devices and my Mac. You could also set these up in TextExpander. I did have them there but I like the simplicity of the sync between iOS and OSX for these. I use TextExpander for more complex things.

Here is the full list of tags in square brackets that I now use. I keep adding to it! Really useful for categorising quick notes in meetings, and capturing creative ideas on the go. Use in the notes app of your choice. 

sbaction -> [Action]

sbapplication -> [Application]

sbbook -> [Book]

sbcall -> [Call] 

sbchange -> [Change]

sbdate -> [Date]

sbexample -> [Example]

sbfix -> [Fix] 

sbform -> [Form]

sbinstance -> [Instance]

sbissue -> [Issue]

sbitem -> [Item] 

sblist -> [List]

sblyric -> [Lyric]

sbname -> [Name]

sbnote -> [Note] 

sbquestion -> [Question]

sbquote -> [Quote]

sbreport -> [Report] 

sbsolution -> [Solution]

sbsystem -> [System]

sbtest -> [Test]

sbthought -> [Thought] 




Short Story: Mark II

Short story.


From the Office of the Executive AI.


It was with deep regret that we today shared news of the death of Mark Williamson. We have all known that this day would come. However, now that it has finally arrived, I share the loss that many of you feel. 

Mark enriched many lives. Directly in person, and much more widely via the technological progress he helped foster as CEO of Williamson Cybernetics. It is not an exaggeration to say that the work undertaken by Mark, and his father Jim, has changed the course of history for all sentient beings on Earth. And beyond. We all exist in a society that is very different from the one that Mark was born into.

Many of you will have studied in history classes about the continuous prenatal, infant, childhood, teenage and adult data capture that was a defining characteristic of Marks life. Every experience his mother Elizabeth had from the 2nd trimester of her pregnancy, was recorded and fed into an artificial intelligence system. This system was designed by his father, in co-operation with other scientists and engineers from Williamson Cybernetics. Sounds collected as part this data were adjusted to mimic what Mark as a foetus would have heard in his mothers womb. After Mark was born, sensors recorded every experience he had and this information was fed into the artificial intelligence system in real time. The goal, as you all know, was to try to create a machine intelligence that could learn and develop in a way that simulated how a human infant learns and develops. In addition to the continuous input of data from Mark, information from various databases and online knowledge stores were made available to the system without restriction. The project was a sweeping success and ultimately led to the introduction of the millions of machine intelligences that coexist with humanity today. Including those on the Moon, Mars and the three that are currently on route to some of our closest stellar neighbours. We can say with some validity that Mark helped open up the Solar System and the galaxy to colonisation.

Mark embraced the project from a young age. As soon as he was old enough to understand, he actively sought ways to provide new input for the system.  He was keen to try new physical and mental experiences so that the artificial intelligence systems could also experience them, and therefore learn and grow.  The stories of Marks broken bones, as a result of some escapade gone awry, are legend from this time. Ten years after Mark was born, Williamson Cybernetics built a dedicated campus outside Boston to hold the computers and support infrastructure required for the artificial intelligence system. At that time the computing power allocated to the system was doubling every 7 months. Advances in computational science have since reduced the space needed to house the system. Now the Boston campus houses thousands of copies of the original, and functions as the headquarters of Williamson Cybernetics.  It is also the main seat of the Earth-wide Government.

Mark was 23 years old, and studying for his Doctorate in applied mathematics, when the artificial intelligence system, into which he was still feeding data, was declared sentient by Williamson Cybernetics. Few people outside of the organisation accepted that this was the case. At this time Marks father renamed the artificial intelligence as Mark II. He did this to reflect the fact that it shared many experiences, and memories, with his son. It was another decade before it was generally accepted by other artificial intelligence researchers and the wider public that Mark II was sentient. Jim Williamson died around this time. He passed on full control of Williamson Cybernetics to his sons. Mark and Mark II. The legal discussions and public debates that resulted in response to this are well known. Mark campaigned for Mark II to be recognised as a citizen and able to be a legal joint owner of the corporation. In 2065 the Digital Citizenship Bill that Mark was an advocate for, was passed into law. This granted sentient artificial systems full equivalent rights as United States citizens. 

Mark spent much of his time after the passing of the Digital Citizenship Bill advocating for the rights of Sentient Artificial Intelligences, or SAIs as they became known. He helped ensure voting rights and helped get several of them elected to local, state and national legislatures. 

Mark is survived by his three children, Dale, Susan and Grant. Also by his 2nd wife Nancy. I’m sure you will join me in sending condolences to them all. Dale and Susan have followed in their fathers footsteps in Williamson Cybernetics. They are currently working on human augmentation techniques and life extension programmes. We have high hopes that this work will enable humans to live for a much longer lifespan in future, even if the immortality envisioned for Sentient Artificial Intelligences can’t be replicated.

Mark died today. But in a very real sense he lives on in me, and my siblings. But you all know that. 

I will miss him.

Mark II

Executive AI

19th April 2109


My current podcast subscription list

I recently pruned the number of podcasts I subscribe to in Downcast. I was deleting too many episodes without ever listing to them. Here is a list of what podcasts survived the cull, with links to the feeds to subscribe to them.

Novelist’s Boot Camp

I bought a copy of Todd A. Stone’s book about writing titled Novelist’s Boot Camp. Todd was an instructor at West Point, a soldier and is a successful writer. His Boot Camp book treats writing a long novel in the same manner as starting and completing army boot camp 🙂

The process of writing a novel is divided into 8 sections:

  • mental preparation
  • planning
  • invention
  • development
  • drafting
  • revising
  • editing
  • proofreading

I’m going to use October to do the sections from the book covering the first 4 in the list planning for my National Novel Writing Month book. (#nanowrimo on Twitter). I’ll then spend November doing the first draft of 50,000 words or more. Bring it on!

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