Sunday, December 20, 2009

Technology and the Writer


Somewhere in the Southeast I am being unusually low tech. And probably feeling a little anxious.

I’m on the Christmas tour—seeing friends and family before heading back home for the big day.

My cell phone? It’s broken. Verizon Wireless has ordered a part for it. I won’t be able to get this part until Christmas Eve. I have a feeling that the Verizon Wireless store is going to be nuts on Christmas Eve, but I will be there, broken cell phone in hand.

I hate phones. But I love texting. I’m much better with words than I am in conversation…and texting means that I’ve avoided having a phone conversation.

On my Christmas tour I will frequently be internet-free.

It’ll be an adjustment. :)

It’s amazing how quickly technology has become important to me. I still remember the old typewriter days (I typed papers in college, even.)

Writing can be low-tech. That’s the amazing thing about it. You can write on old notebooks or even receipts (I’ve done that when really desperate before.)

But high-tech stuff for writers is fun, too. My favorite tools for writing:

Google: I love Google. I may love Google too much—I can get distracted when researching something. Nowadays I just mark the spot in my manuscript that needs researching and keep on writing.

Check out the Google Guide. Here are some of the more-useful search tips (excerpted right from the guide):

salsa dance the word salsa but NOT the word dance (that’s a minus sign before the ‘dance.’)

castle ~glossary glossaries about castles, as well as dictionaries, lists of terms, terminology

define:imbroglio definitions of the word imbroglio (or whatever word you’re looking up) from the Web

site: Search only one website or domain. Halloween (Search for information on Halloween gathered by the US Census Bureau.)

link: Find linked pages, i.e., show pages that point to the URL. (Find pages that link to Warrior Librarian's website.)

phonebook: Show all phonebook listings. phonebook: Disney CA (Search for Disney's phone numbers in California - CA.)

info: (or id:) Find info about a page. (Find information about The Onion website.)

related: List web pages that are similar or related to the URL. (Find websites related to the Healthfinder website.)

intitle: The terms must appear in the title of the page. movies comedy intitle:top ten (Search for pages with the words movie and comedy that include top ten in the title of the page.)

I also am a big Microsoft Word fan. Their word processing program beats the typewriter all to pieces.

Need some shortcuts to work through your manuscript quicker?

Useful Keyboard Shortcuts for Microsoft Word:

CTRL N :quickly opens a new document (great for those times you want to jot down a note, but keep writing on your current scene.)

CTRL end :moves the cursor to the end of a document (when you suddenly want to change your ending)

CTRL home :moves the cursor to the beginning of a document (when you suddenly want to change your beginning.)

CTRL E :Center a paragraph

CTRL Z : Undo (I use that one a LOT.)

CTRL 2 : Double space lines CTRL 1 : Single space

These are shortcuts that I find the most useful for me, but there are many more. If you’re interested, there’s a shortcut list for Word and one for Windows in general. If you’re on a Mac, their website lists some helpful shortcuts, too.

Do you go through technology withdrawal? Have any techie tips and tricks for us?