Rhea Myers

Emacs For Art Writing

The Emacs text editor has been in active development since the 1970s. You can install it using your GNU/Linux distro’s package manager or via Apple’s Mac OS X software site. Real writers use plain text, and Emacs excels at editing plain text.

Emacs doesn’t use the key commands that have become standard since it was written, rather it uses a more expressive set of keypresses to manipulate text. To find or create a file, you press Control and f then Control and f (C-x C-f). To save a file you press Control and X then Control and W (C-x C-w). Then to quit press C-x C-c .

Emacs contains its own tutorial (which you can access by pressing C-h then just pressing t), and there’s a handy reference sheet included when you install Emacs or downloadable on the net (for example at http://www.dsm.fordham.edu/~agw/emacs-refcard.pdf ).

Emacs is also programmable, using a version of the Lisp programming language, and you can use this to extend and customise Emacs to better fit how you work.

You can turn Emacs into a full-screen text editor - http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/FullScreen

You can add on-the-fly spell checking - [http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/FlySpell

](http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/FlySpell)You can even turn Emacs into a powerful idea capturing, note-taking, task list managing, publishing platform - [http://orgmode.org/

](http://orgmode.org/)Specifically for art writing, I’ve written an Emacs “minor mode” that highlights mistakes such as use of the passive voice, weasel words, art writing cliches (“artbollocks”), and lexical illusions (duplicate words) - [https://github.com/rheaplex/scripts/blobs/master/artbollocks-mode.el

](https://github.com/rheaplex/scripts/blobs/master/artbollocks-mode.el)Learning how to use Emacs is an investment that pays off massively, turning your computer into a remarkably direct instrument for working with text.