Al Sweigart

Al Sweigart

Who are you, and what did you write?

I'm Al Sweigart. I write books that teach kids and office workers to program. I'm mostly known for Automate the Boring Stuff with Python, but I've written several other programming books as well. I make them all freely available under a Creative Commons license on my website.

What hardware and software do you write with?

I tend to use Thinkpad laptops running Windows, though Windows 10 has finally annoyed me enough that I'm going to finally make the switch to Linux in the future. People are often surprised to hear that I write my technical books in MS Word instead of LaTeX. But I've found that Word just works, especially given the style sheet from my publisher, No Starch Press.

I'll also keep notes in spreadsheets with Excel or Google Sheets, and in text files using Sublime Text 3. I also use a Windows program called Memento, which lets me assign a hotkey to instantly bring up an always-on-top simple notepad window that I can type text into. It's really a great little app.

When and where do you write?

Mostly at cafes or libraries. I've tried coworking spaces and they just didn't provide me with anything I couldn't get from a cafe. I enjoy having a place where I'm in public and in "work mode". Though with the pandemic, I've just been writing from home in my office. I'll try to keep 9 to 5 hours, but really I'm writing whenever I can put myself in the mood, including evenings and weekends.

What's your dream writing setup?

I remember seeing The Matrix and the scene that shows Neo asleep at his computer. He has a one room apartment and a desk crowded with computer equipment. It's kind of dark and grimy. I thought, "That is what I want my workspace to be." And it pretty much is, except my space is cleaner and better lit. Still, the hacker noir vibe is strangely appealing to me.