Saturday, September 17, 2011

Writers' little helpers

Some technological, some not.

First the not-technological:
  • First of all, the Another Damned Notorious Writing Group. It really did help to feel as though I needed to accomplish something and check in on Friday.
  • Also, the ADNWG inspires bloggers to write about writing, as posts by its cofounders and also Sisyphus, Dr. Crazy, Dr. Virago, Dame Eleanor, and all the comments on the ADNWG posts attest.
  • Opposite day. I think I've posted before that my natural time to write is in the evening, by which I mean that I have better concentration and interest then, and I can write more in 2 hours in the evening than in 4 hours during the day. Given every piece of advice on writing ever published, I've been trying very hard to do the "get up in the morning and write" thing, but yesterday I just gave up, did fun class-prep work all day, cruised around on the internet a little, and in the evening finally made the suckitude meter budge in the right direction on this get-it-out-the-door article that I have to finish. I wrote a bunch and can now see the end in sight.
The technological ones:
  • Pomodoro. I finally broke down and bought Pomodoro instead of using my regular timer. Somehow, having its alien voice tell me to get started has helped, as has the game-type quality of having it enter the time spent automatically on my calendar.
  • Google Calendar. It truly did make a difference when I actually wrote in "Write" as an appointment on writing days. It's all a Jedi mind trick, like the timers, but really, what isn't?
  • 750words. It doesn't work for the kinds of editing and rewriting I was doing yesterday, but for generating text that you can then cut into shape, it works well.
  • Freedom. Freedom cuts you off from the Internet for a period of time that you specify. The Windows version I tried didn't work, although whether that was due to Freedom or the general haplessness of Vista, I'm not sure. It works well with a Mac but--important--not if you are also running Pomodoro.
  • Excel. I know I've posted before about a spreadsheet I keep (on the advice of Boice & Silvia) listing word counts for the day & a brief description of what I did. I recently opened a new workbook page and started keeping track just of the time I started with the beginning and ending word counts. I used to do this on paper, but except for planning and editing, I haven't felt like writing much on paper lately, and this works.
I do realize these are all toys to keep me entertained while I get to work, little shiny technological carrots, so to speak, but if they work, they work. I'm saving learning about Scrivener, which I own but can't figure out yet, for the next big writing push.


Dame Eleanor Hull said...

Carrots are good, and so is knowing your optimal time to work. If it's the evening, go for it. I like mornings because by evening I'm brain-dead, but if you're the other way round, there is no reason to force yourself to be someone you're not.

undine said...

Dame Eleanor, you're right, though I keep trying to retrain myself if only because there are more hours between 8-5 than between 8pm & 10 pm.