Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Being Creative on the Computer

blog10 I’m doing my best to eliminate paper from my writing process. At this point, the only paper that’s still around are the notebooks (and Post It notes) for my car and purse. I need those for writing on the go (because I grab every second I can.) But at the end of the day, the paper I wrote on is transcribed onto the computer and thrown away. Why am I doing this? Well, I’ve discovered that as much as I love paper, it’s slowing me down. And I don’t have much time to spare. I used to do a lot of writing on paper. But then I discovered that A. I frequently lost the paper and B. I had to transcribe everything onto the computer—I was effectively writing the material twice. My revising? It was all done on paper. I’d print it out (and this would be 270 pages, single sided) and then go through and mark it up like crazy. Then I’d have to go back and page-by-page make all the corrections…looking back and forth from the printed, marked up text to the computer, finding the right place… It was just too slow. Now, if you’re not in any hurry or under any deadlines, then do what works best for you! But if you do want to go paper free, then here are my tips-- How I weaned myself off paper: Never let myself get too far ahead on paper…maybe 2 pages…before I made myself transcribe it. This kept me from having 20 or 30 pages that needed to be put into Word. And, after a while, I thought how much quicker the process would be if I just wrote on the computer. Remembered my deadlines—self-imposed and publisher-imposed. That tends to spur me into action. Learned how to do revisions on the computer with Track Changes (all editors want to work with Track Changes now). Since the editors were using Track Changes, I got more practice doing revisions on my computer. Practiced brainstorming on the computer (trying to generate new ideas while looking at a blank screen. It wasn’t easy….) I remembered how much it cost me to print out all those pages I used for revisions…in paper and printer ink. But, what’s the biggest thing to remember if you do all your writing on the computer? BACK IT UP!!!!!! Use a thumb drive, USB, external hard drive, or email it to yourself. Just make sure it’s somewhere. Because it won’t be on paper anymore for you to piece together. Now I’m more careful than I used to be (although I still screw up and end up accidentally losing text.) I’m thinking there’s an age gap with the writing on paper thing. It’s VERY easy for my kids to be creative on the computer, but I had to really work at it. I’m thinking that the younger you are, the easier it might be to make the change (if you haven’t already.) Which is easier for you—paper or word processing? In other news--I've murdered my comment widget. :) It comes easily to a mystery writer. Too many problems for many of my Blogger friends and when I discovered that several people had tried to comment and couldn't, it had to go. I'm still looking for the perfect universal commenting system that's compatible with Blogger...when I find it, I'll let you know!