Episode 314 – Defeating Writer’s Block Using Penspyre with David Olive Jr.

Mark interviews David Olive, Jr (AKA David Grimdark) author and one of the engineers behind Penspyre a tool to help writers tackle writer’s block and productivity.

Prior to the interview, Mark shares a brief personal update, comments from recent episodes, and word about this episode’s sponsor.

You can learn more about how you can get your audiobooks distributed to retailers and library systems around the world at

In the interview, Mark and David talk about:

  • David’s love of reading as a young child and his love of fantasy novels
  • Begining to read eBooks on a dedicated reader, and reading Webnovels
  • Starting to write when interning in University
  • Putting some of his work up on Wattpad
  • The Systems Design Engineering program David recently graduated from at University of Waterloo
  • The final year project that David and his fellow engineering students put together, which resulted in Penspyre
  • The procedural documentation of identifying problems related to the writing process
  • Reaching out to local writers from the Cambridge Writer’s Group as part of their research and investigation
  • Learning the Google Spring method
  • How Pensypre offers up AI-generated writing prompts to help a writer with their productivity
  • The research they’d done with writers leading them to believe they didn’t want a tool that would give them something they’d take word for word but that they needed something to help “get the ball rolling.”
  • The metrics they looked at for their research with how writers engaged with the tool
  • Their study’s results showing that writers typically wrote 15% more in a 20 minute writing sprint using the tool than when not using the tool
  • How Pensyre is a tool David wanted to make as much for himself as for other writers
  • The “Continue the Story” option where you can focus on action, dialogue, or inner thoughts of the characters with various styles or moods
  • The “Link the story” feature for briding two different scenes or moments or actions together
  • The “Describe” function that allows you to draw upon one or more of the five senses
  • Penspyre’s availability as a Google Docs extension
  • How writers during the test kept the prompts unedited about 15% of the time
  • The element of the software that suggests the level of “originality” score to the prompt
  • Advice David would offer to beginning writers
  • David’s thoughts on why writers shouldn’t be afraid of this new technology

After the interview Mark shares a few of his own reflections, thanks Patrons for their support and reminds them there’ll be a video walk-thru of Penspyre available for them at

Links of Interest:

David Olive Jr is a recent graduate from the University of Waterloo, Canada who has a passion for reading and writing fiction. As an aspiring writer he and some classmates decided to try and tackle writing productivity as their final year design project. The result was Penspyre, a tool that utilizes AI to give the writer contextualized writing prompts and help them be more productive.

The introductory, end, and bumper music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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