Writing about writing

Archive for January, 2016

Writer’s Software: To Use or Not to Use

It is my biggest dream in life, right now, to finish and publish my memoir. I wrote the draft several years ago and have worked on it off and on since. I have found it difficult to keep up with what I’ve written and what I haven’t written as well as in finding a particular section–quickly–while using Word and/or Google Docs. Both programs are easy to navigate and certainly great to use as a writer. The best part about Google Docs is that it automatically saves and I can access it wherever I am as long as I have internet access.

But the struggle to revise such a long document is real. As you know if you have participated in NaNoWriMo any time over the last several years, NaNo winners often receive some awesome goodies that participants do not. One of those goodies is 50% programs like Scrivener or FastPencil and the like. These companies also make their software available for a free trial for November for all NaNo participants.

I did try Scrivener one year during NaNo, but I found it very distracting during the first draft stage, so I quit using it and never looked back. Since the whole concept of NaNo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days with no revision, software like the ones mentioned were clunky and kept me from simply writing. What about you? Do you prefer to use writing software such as Scrivener when writing the first draft, especially when participating in NaNo?

Now that I have a really solid draft of my Memoir complete, I am finding it very difficult to use Word or Google Docs as I revise. When I want to find a particular passage/section in my book, I find it difficult to navigate approximately 80 pages of a single-spaced document. I can do a search, obviously, for what I am looking for and that does help. I am thankful for such features in your basic writing programs.

But when it comes to the serious revisions such as seeing at a glance the chapters and overall content, Word and Google Docs are not helpful at all. But software like Scrivener is fantastic in that area. I can view all my chapters at once either in outline form, as part of my Binder, or on a digital cork board. I can move chapters or sections around with a flick of my mouse rather than having to highlight and drag whole sections, possibly losing the whole section or putting it in the wrong place because of the sensitivity of the mouse. (Know what I mean?)

In Scrivener, I can also use a split screen right there in the program so I can compare sections. I don’t have to open two separate windows and place them side-by-side or one on top of the other on my screen. Scrivener does that for me.

Scrivener also easily formats my book when I am finished. It creates the title page, keeps a running total of my overall word count, adds chapter titles as well as chapter breaks, and so on and so forth.

I have only just started using Scrivener as part of my revision process. I like what I see and what I have used so far. There is a lot to the program, though, and I am finding myself feeling at a bit of a loss since I am not familiar with the program. It is fairly self-explanatory but there are some cool features that a newbie won’t know without either playing with the program or having someone else show him/her.

So what about you? Have you tried software like Scrivener or Fastpencil? What do you think of such programs? Why? Do you prefer Word or Google Docs? What are some positives/negatives about each of the various programs–to you?

I really am curious to know what you think…..

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Lost without my computer

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It’s now been more than two months since my personal computer crashed. In my very being, I had a bad feeling a few weeks before it happened, but I didn’t want to believe it. My computer was only about three years old, after all. I had started backing up items on my computer, but it always took a long time and/or it was just time-consuming in and of itself as an activity.

The sad truth, though, is that my computer did crash and I have been without one for more than two months.

That’s a bit of a lie. I do have one; I have my son’s old computer, but it is slow, clunky, and simply is not the quality computer I had. It is serviceable, but it is frustrating to work with.

Because of my dead computer, I have felt quite lost for the past two months when it comes to writing. I haven’t written blog posts for any of my blogs since my computer crashed. I used to be on my computer all the time to write in my journal and to work on my Memoir, but I haven’t done any of that since the death of my computer.

When I get on my son’s computer, I get incredibly frustrated with how slow it is as well as how easily it loses internet connection.

I could go on and on about my lack of writing and reasons for it. Anyone who has struggled with writer’s block can understand my frustration. But I have never believed in writer’s block. I have to admit that I simply have not been in the mood to write. If I really wanted to write, I would have found a way, regardless of whether or not I have a good computer to work with.

I once had a little argument with a friend about reading. She said that she simply didn’t have time to read what with her kids, job, housework, church stuff, etc., etc., etc. My response to her at the time was one I have heard my whole life and believe whole-heartedly: “We make the time to do things that we really want to do.” If we want to do something bad enough, we will find a way.

The same goes here. If I had wanted to write bad enough, I would have found a way. I feel guilty for not writing for more than two months, but at the same time, I also feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to write “the-great-American-novel.” 😉

I feel as if I should be discouraged or disappointed in myself because of my lack of writing, but I believe that sometimes we have to take a break or we will burn out and end up never getting back to doing what we love. Even things we love doing can become difficult and feel like a chore, especially when we are overwhelmed and have a lot of other things going on.

So here’s to writing more in 2016, good computer or not!

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