Creative Blitz - 3 Jun 24

Dictation, drawing, directing - what I made today

Today I was wild with creative work.

I wrote, translated, made a video, narrated, read, coded, and drew. It was all a little out of focus, but I did get make some progress on major projects.

Today was also one of my weekly "whatever I want days" so that played a factor in my flaky attention. Tomorrow it's back to regular programming.

Here's what worked on and published today:

"Gates of Okinawa" (Novel)

  • 560 words written via dictation (first time)
  • I'd heard dictation can be much faster than writing. I used Audacity to record it, then used AudioPen to clean up the recording.
  • This was a good combination.
  • Recording fiction is a little awkward, because I have to think of the story as I say it. But that's probably because I'd never done it before. I'll probably get better over time.
  • In 30 minutes, I wrote an entire complete chapter draft. That's a nice time save. I look forward to trying it again soon (maybe tomorrow?)

"Dimensions Apart" (Microfiction story published)

  • I wanted an excuse to do some narration and put up a video on my YouTube channel. This was the result.
  • Between writing the story (about 600 words), making the cover, and video total effort was about 1 hour.
  • Really pleased with how it came out. Will be doing more of these in the future.
  • They don't take long to make and more importantly, they don't take long to watch (under 5 mins).

Tower of Babbling Fijian (Latin) Update

  • Day 6 Updated - Started listening to the only audiobook I could find in the language - The Bible.
  • It's not just a dry read. There are multiple readers and music (it's a production).
  • Enjoying the listen so far.

Sketchbook Update

  • Did Day 2 of drawing the human figure course on Udemy
  • I felt the resistance to sitting down and drawing. It still takes a considerable amount of effort to get anything down and of course, I still suck.
  • Feels a lot like when I started doing music 3 years ago. It sucks, but I know I'm slowly improving every time.
  • Here's what I drew today.


Currently I'm reading 3 books. One fiction, one non-fiction, and one Japanese.

Fiction - "Integration: Book 2 of the Singularity Chronicles" by Michael Woudenberg

Just hit the halfway point in this one.

I'm finding it much slower than the first one, which isn't all bad. The challenge for me is most of the book takes place in space (with them hopping in and out of simulations for texture).

This is one of the reasons I don't really read (or write) space sci-fi. Without the ability to change locations, the story can get stale.

Also, all of the characters are AI versions of former humans, so they are essentially invincible for most of the book. There have been some dramatic moments where they risked getting deleted, but that was taken out of play quickly with the advanced technology.

This significantly lowers the excitement of the story. It's like playing Contra III with infinite lives. Where's the danger?

The first book took some time to open up, too. We'll see what happens in the second half.

Non-Fiction - "On Writing" by Stephen King

Considered by many to be "must read" for any serious novelist, I'm finally getting to this one.

Honestly, I don't really vibe with King's non-fiction writing style. He's kinda snarky and pompous. But I suppose when you've been in the game 50+ years, you've earned the right to flex like 2008 Kanye.

That said, his writing is really good. I find myself reading past his grating voice to the meta of his material. The way he puts together sentences and the clarity of expression speaks to his mastery of the craft - something I've been very interested in lately.

There's a lot to learn from this book. I plan to soak up as many lessons as possible.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Japanese)

This damn book has been on my bookshelf for nearly 15 years. Now I'm seriously reading it.

Last year, it took me a week to read a single sentence. Even after accomplishing what I considered a monumental feat, I still hardly understood most of what I read.

Today I read half a page, while listening to the Japanese audiobook and understood everything.

Truly impressive.

How am I doing this?

It's really a combination of several skills that have (finally!) reached a level of useful maturity. After years of effort, I can finally prove that I know Japanese.

My now robust understanding of Kanji (thanks to the last year of almost daily WaniKani drills.)

My increased Japanese typing speed (using a Japanese keyboard.) I've been working at that for about a year, too.

My streamlined AI tutor workflow is also a factor.

I made a custom GPT that explains Japanese sentence grammar. Instead of going through the typical training "you are a helpful Japanese tutor..." routine, all I type is the word "grammar" and it spits out an instant explanation of the sentence meaning. This was a real game changer.

With all three of the above skills solidified, I no longer get jammed up at each step of the process like I did last year.

My current reading flow goes:

1) Read full sentence (aloud) as smoothly as possible

2) Write the sentence in ChatGPT (if I didn't understand it 100%)

3) Stop to look up any unknown Kanji as I write

4) Read ChatGPT's analysis

5) Listen to the sentence in the audiobook version in Japanese

Next sentence.

I can cycle through this sequence in 5 minutes or less - depending on the length and complexity of the sentence.

This is a revolutionary workflow that has been incredibly powerful for my language acquisition.

I plan to repeat it to learn other languages (albeit at a much slower pace).

That's all for today's update.

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