Making Mazes

a tiny maze

a tiny maze

I like to use a maze to record my NaNoWriMo word count progress. Here’s my 2013 maze, for example.

Making Mazes

I use a program to generate these mazes, one I wrote originally in Algol68 when I was doing my degree but this particular version is written in Lisp: maze.lisp

To use this tool, follow these steps:

  1. install a Lisp runtime. I use CLISP, but this is standard Common Lisp so SBCL or a commercial Lisp ought to work just as well.
    • on a Linux system, you should be able to install it from your package repository, eg apt-get install clisp
    • on a Mac, install a package manager such as Homebrew then install CLISP (“brew install clisp”)
    • on Windows, your best bet is to install Cygwin and then use its package manager to install CLISP
  2. start the Lisp interpreter (called a REPL) by typing “clisp”
  3. (load “maze”)
  4. (maze-file 10 10 :svg “<filename>”)

The “10 10” gives the x and y dimensions of the maze.

How To Use It

I just print this file out (having opened it in a browser) and stick it up on the fridge at home and on a wall at work. Then I fill in one square per thousand words written, following the shortest route to the end but keeping the last exit square open. Then I go back to fill in earlier squares, and fill in the last square on the last day of writing.

Since this is a standard SVG file, you could load it up into any graphics tool that understands that format. I use Inkscape for that kind of thing, but other tools are available.

I should also emphasise that this is meant mainly as a visual aid for the supporters rather than my primary tracking tool.

How do you communicate your progress to those supporting you?

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