How I Write

When I worked at MedNow, Dewey Richards’ walk-in family practice in Orono, a part time transcriptionist worked in the break room.

She would sit down in front of her old fashioned computer monitor, put a doctor’s micro cassette in her player, the ear phones in her ears and start typing. The screen in front of her was completely empty except for the cursor in the upper left corner. When each office note was finished, she would print it and start again with a completely blank screen.

Most word processors today are full of icons with formatting options. The only time I use that kind of writing platform is when I actually do some formatting, like a pamphlet or layout of a completed book manuscript.

I write on my iPad because it lets me work anywhere, and I prefer a blank screen in front of me as I choose the right words to express my thoughts. Just like I prefer to write in the early morning, when life has fewer distractions, I find the big white space of my favorite writing app helps me open my mind and be inspired. I don’t usually start with a topic already in my head until I see the empty screen in front of me.

The free program I use for creating blog posts and personal correspondence is called Simplenote. It was created by WordPress, which is the backbone of probably the majority of websites, from A Country Doctor Writes to The New York Times.

Simplenote synchs seamlessly between all my devices every time I close a document, so I can open what I created on my iPad minutes later on my iPhone or my MacBook.

This way of writing is as close to a blank page in a typewriter that you can get. I have heard some people are intimidated by sitting down in front of a blank page. I find it inviting and inspiring, because it suggests that anything is possible.

For blog posts, I copy the finished piece and paste it in WordPress, where I can insert graphics, italicize or make text bold, insert links or indents for quotes.

For book chapters, I paste my text into Scrivener, which synchs (although they spell it ‘syncs’) with Dropbox across devices. This is a writing program that lets you create, format and organize chapters. The last step is then to convert the whole project to a Pages, pdf or (if necessary – ugh) Word document.

As I now finish writing this post on my white iPad screen, my eyes also take in the whiteness of the new snow on the trees and the red cedar fence of the horse pasture outside my bedroom window. It is a silent, sunny Sunday morning.

Time to feed the horses.

1 Response to “How I Write”

  1. 1 Nik March 27, 2021 at 4:25 pm

    I love the potential of the blank page.

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Osler said “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis”. Duvefelt says “Listen to your patient, he is telling you what kind of doctor he needs you to be”.


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