Thursday, November 12, 2015

In Which I Share Embarrassing Tidbits of Information

I am technically challenged. Me and computers don't always see eye to eye. Honestly, they mystify me. And since writing-- for the most part-- takes place completely on one of them, I've learned a few things (slooowly) over the years. 

Take for example my first book. I wrote that thing in chapters. Like most of us do. *grin* But I saved each chapter individually. All by itself. Do you know, that when you've written a 90K+ book, with some thirty-odd chapters, that amazingly enough, you don't remember what's in each chapter? Instead you spend A LOT of time clicking in and out of chapters trying to remember what is where. 

I had a lightbulb moment when listening to Christine Johnson giving a NaNoWriMo talk at the library several years ago. She said she just wrote it all in one big ms. No separate folders for each chapter. Just one big word doc. 

*BOOM* Mind blown. (gah, it's beyond embarrassing how clueless I am sometimes) 

I only learned this year that ctrl A highlights an entire body of text.

And do you know how much I would've given to know that you can highlight an entire body of text, and drag the little marker over on the ruler-thingy at the top of Word, and thus indent hundreds of pages of text at once?

True story: Around two years ago, I stayed up 'til after 3 a.m. manually indenting every single line in a full request for an agent. Every. Single. Line. I got to about 75% and then had to give up. It was either that or go stark-raving mad. So I picked sanity and three hours of sleep. 

Also, a few weeks ago, I realized I can search my inbox for emails. That's super handy!

Am I alone in my tech-stupidity? Please share any tales you might have-- it'll make me feel better!  

35 comments:

  1. :). Love it. I use Scrivener not to its fullest capacity I know, but it saves a ton of time. Of course, most of my stories are PBs. My problem are the smart phones. I'm way to dumb for them. Give me a computer any day over a computerized phone.

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    1. I don't have a smart phone! So I promise, you have to be way better than me. =)

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  2. LOL You're too funny!
    I was mind blown when I learned I could set the document up to indent by itself every time I hit enter. No worries about dialogue tabs, or new paragraphs, etc. I know I suck at a lot of things technology wise and I can't remember right now, if I remember I'm coming back lol

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    1. Indent is amazing! Except when I was doing it all myself, then it sucked. ;)

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  3. Not alone! Learning little hacks like these are SO HELPFUL! I had an editor give me some tips once during a first 10 pages critique because it was so bad, lol. ;)

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    1. "You're writing's great, but let's fix this horrible formatting." Lol!

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  4. Ha ha, well I'm glad you're getting better. I feel pretty confident with most technological things - though Scrivener did take me a while to learn.

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    1. Scrivener gives me the willies, b/c I'm pretty sure I'd fail successful navigation w/that program completely... I mean, if Word gives me problems! ;)

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  5. I know nothing of keyboard shortcuts. And I'm mildly capable with computer-creatures. But I am very often hitting a key by mistake, seeing something unexpected happen, and getting all rage-pouty. The Undo button is my dearest friend.

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    1. Yes! My fingers will be flying and then whoops! Ack! =)

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  6. I always wrote in one document. I didn't know anyone did it any other way. However, I finally made the leap to Scrivener when I found out many authors are using it now. It actually is kinda cool. You have everything listed on the left, from all your characters, your synopsis, and your places. You can put details about each for continuity. And instead of naming your chapters "Chapter One," etc., I saw a tip that you should name them like they do in scripts. SCENE: then describe the scene and what you plan to accomplish. That can help you outline the entire novel before you start...although I still only plan a couple of chapters ahead!

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    1. Scrivener definitely sounds intriguing, and I love that it's tailor-made for writers. Maybe one day!

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  7. That made me chuckle!
    At least you break your manuscript into chapters. I write just one big, long story. There are breaks, but I don't insert chapter breaks until I'm completely done. Yes, my critique partners love me...

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  8. You are not alone. But I have it worse as technical things glitch around me. I always keep my chapters separate, ever since I figured out that sometimes Word doesn't save quite right or my computer hangs. Better to lose one chapter than a whole ms. Searching my Inbox (or folders or Trash) never works right. I ask it for a name or a key word and all kinds of weird stuff shows up that has nothing to do with what I want. I indent by using some weird formatting thing that Smashwords taught me for e-pubbing and I have to look up how to do it every single time. (Thank goodness I don't have to format for print - I've heard that's really hard!) But we muddle through, right? And we get a little more experienced as we go. :)

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    1. Gives me shivers to think of losing an entire ms. So far I'm lucky I've never experience that horror. *knocks on wood!* Muddlers unite! ;)

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  9. Sounds like you know quite a few little tricks. :) I've always kept my manuscripts in one complete file, but I know several other writers who break it into chapters (sounds way more confusing to me). I love Word, but the formatting can drive me crazy at times!

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    1. Formatting is a confusing beast, for sure. =)

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  10. I admit I default to my eight-year-old sometimes because she knows how to do just about everything. My husband and I don't use the smart TV because we don't know how to. ;) Our daughter does though.

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    1. How do they pick up on that stuff? Crazy. But lucky for you guys, heh!

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  11. I used to write in Word with one big document, but I switched to Scrivener. In Scrivener, the chapters are separated, but you can also combine them. But anyway, knowing how to do things in Word (or whatever one uses) can be a big advantage and time saver. Taking a class in Word might be useful to you. I've been wanting to take a class in Photoshop because I'm horrible with it.

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    1. It probably really would! I know the library sometimes offers them.

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  12. This made me laugh, Leandra! I can definitely identify. One of my 13-year-old boys is my "tech support guy"--seriously, he networked my laptop to my home computer this week. I am learning new things all the time! I was brave and started a Scrivener trial a few months ago, but have not been able to get the hang of it yet. I didn't know about ctrl A. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Yay, glad it'll help! I love ctrl A now. =)

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  13. I'm not very good at technical stuff either. I have worked out how to manually indent paragraphs in a whole document at once though - after doing it the hard way for a very long time!

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    1. Me and the hard way are often friends. ;)

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  14. I consider myself fairly tech savvy, but NOT ms savvy! When I first started it was chapter by chapter as well, each in its own handy doc. I used clue words as titles for the rough draft so that I knew what was where, but it was still a pain in the tookus. My two favourite time-savers for editing are CNTL+F and CNTL+H. I almost always can remember a certain unique word or phrase near what I'm trying to edit and using CNTL+F to locate saves a ton of time. And when I have a character name change, CNTL+H is a life-saver! Formatty stuff is harder for me... still learning. :-)

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    1. Thanks for that! I've heard it mentioned, but hearing it again here, I'm definitely going to try out this control find thing!

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  15. OMG, a kindred spirit and thanks for the Control A info:)

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  16. You are NOT alone!!! Now that I have teenagers, they've taught me several things. Haha! What's even more embarrassing is that I've worked with personal computers when they first came on the scene, even doing a big of programming but it drove me nuts that commercial programs didn't *think* like me, so my very patient husband taught me a lot. Even now, every time we update (and I refuse to unless the thing dies on me) it takes me several months to get comfortable with a new operating system and programs. Things have gotten easier for me though ... I can poke around on my own without blowing up the whole doc. Um, I recently bought a used typewriter ... does that tell you something about me?

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    1. Hey, with a typewriter, you don't have to worry about it crashing and losing everything! And wow, programming- that would prolly leave me in tears. ;)

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  17. LOL! Leandra, you are definitely among friends. It takes me a long time to discover to those workarounds. I still write with pen and paper (because computers and internet can be such a distraction), then I transcribe and it helps to work out the kinks in the writing. :) (But don't be fooled by how savvy that sounds, I only started doing this about three months ago - LOL).

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  18. LOL!!! Oh I love this :) I remember learning how to use excel and being so delighted with I discovered the cntl-D function to copy the cell above it to the one below. Made my whole day! But I'll admit, most of the time, I do okay with computers (watch me totally jinx myself here), but that comes with its own issues--my whole family turns to me to fix anything and everything. That's all kinds of fun...not ;)

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  19. Okay the indenting: TOTALLY HAPPENED TO ME. I spent a whole day indenting my entire MS. even my brother has trouble with it and always forgets how to indent...I'd be totally comp challenged too, but my bro really helps since he's a tech wizard.

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