The people who use our boards.

304 interviews since 2018

Lee Schneider

Novelist and Podcast Producer

Who are you, and what do you do? What do you like to do outside of work?

I’m Lee Schneider, novelist, producer, and television production escapee. I’ve written screenplays for Hollywood studios, teleplays for networks, stage plays for Off Broadway in New York, short stories for the web, and audio drama podcasts for FutureX.Studio. I’ve been doing this kind of work for more than 30 years as a writer, producer, editor, and executive producer.

I’m the founder of Red Cup Agency, a podcast production agency in Santa Monica, CA, and the author of five nonfiction books. Surrender is my first novel to be published. It’s science fiction and it’s going to be released in February 2023. I’m already working on the sequel.

I’m a runner and kayaker, and I practice yoga and meditation. I go through cycles with tennis, sometimes loving it and sometimes not. I enjoy reading, especially fiction. My son and I are making bread, edging toward perfecting the classic French baguette.

Lee Schneider's setup
Everything a writer needs lives on Lee's unusual desk

What hardware do you use?

Most workdays I’m at my standing desk looking at the screen of my 14-inch MacBook Pro. I also write on an iPad Air, and read articles and research on my iPhone. When listening to podcasts for work, I often use my AirPods Max headset, then switching to a Sony MDR-7506 when I need to listen to audio mixes that require more audio detail. It’s important to me to use the non-digital processing part of the mind, so I write in Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, usually with pencils like the Mitsubishi 9800 F.

And what software?

On the writing side of life, I use Scrivener for long form and iA Writer for short form, blogs, transcripts, and podcast show notes. DEVONthink has become part of my everyday workflow for notes, capturing emails, selections from books, screen captures, and just about everything else. It’s what I call a “memex.” (The term coined in 1945 by inventor Vannevar Bush, referring to a hypothetical electromechanical device for interacting with documents.) I’ve also used Bear and, long ago, Evernote. When combined with Readwise.io, DEVONthink becomes an information vacuum cleaner that suctions up everything that I want to save. And I can find it later! I use Alfred to automate some tasks, like opening multiple programs at once.

For podcast editing, I use Logic Pro. For project planning, I’ve been enjoying Sunsama.com to plan my workdays. Sunsama has the advantage of visualizing how long tasks will take, which helps me plan a realistic workload. I’ve learned that I am good for no more than four focused hours of concentrated work each day. Sunsama integrates with Todoist, Gmail, and ClickUp, so I can also pull in tasks from those platforms and schedule them.

Lee Schneider's setup, up close
Podcasting requires two screens at times

What’s your keyboard setup like? Do you use a custom layout or custom keycaps?

I’m using the ErgoDox EZ in white, with Cherry MX Silent Red switches and tilt capability, and wrist pads, standard white keycaps.

Once I started working with a mechanical keyboard, there was no going back. I learned to type on typewriters, and I worked them hard. When I switched to computer keyboards, I was prone to hand injuries, wrist injuries, and fatigue. The bit of extra resistance on a mechanical keyboard helps me a lot. The split keyboard of the ErgoDox has helped improve my posture and my attitude. I feel like I am working on the deck of the Starship Enterprise. I like the sound; it reminds me of working in newsrooms in my early career as a journalist at the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, as a writer at Good Morning America, and as producer at E! Entertainment Television, local TV news in Los Angeles, and Dateline NBC. The newsroom workspaces I inhabited were a din of clacking keyboards at all hours. It sounds like hell, but it was actually heaven.

I have used the Keyboard Configurator to change things around on the keyboard. Since I use the “#” a lot for Markdown, # has a prominent position in my setup. Same for the “=” key (for highlighting in iA Writer). Other keys I’ve moved around include Caps Lock, CMD-S for Save, a dedicated key for italics in Markdown, and when editing in Logic Pro, a key to split tracks. I’ve really appreciated the ability to keep iterating the keyboard to my tastes. When I write in Scrivener, I have dedicated keys for the way Scrivener executes highlighting, strike throughs, and the date. I have a key to send email when using Apple Mail. It’s all fun, and limited only by my cognitive load-bearing abilities. (I can only program as many keys as I can remember!)

What would be your dream setup?

I’m pretty much working at my dream setup. I think about an additional, larger monitor sometimes, but using my iPad as a second monitor works well. My setup, even with the split keyboard, fits well at my standing desk. (It’s actually not a desk. It’s a bar that my mother made of fallen trees.)

Lee Schneider with his book Surrender
Good luck with the novel, Lee!

© 2024 ZSA Technology Labs, Inc.