Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Write-A-Thon Update: Some Productivity Strategies

I haven't actually done my writing session for the day. Today was a work day, and I also had obligations after work. So it's almost midnight, and I'm just getting started. But I will get in at least a token session before bed.

Here are a couple of technques and practices I'm trying to keep this dare on the move;

1.) Get the butt out the chair.

Or as the song says "Stand up and type until you hear the bell." I have mentioned my shoulder problems, and my tendency to get RSIs. I'm going to post about this overall subject later, but for now I'll just say: writing is not good for your health. One of the causes of RSIs is an overall lack of muscle tone. Another is working in the exact same position all the time.

Solution; work standing at the counter at least two sessions a day. This is better for me physically anyway, and it allows me to move around a lot. Every time I pause to think, I dance around and jump and think. (I don't have to make myself do it -- it just comes naturally if I'm on my feet.) At least I can do this if the cat does not interfere. Which leads me to:

2.) Cat management.

That's not going so well. I put a cat bed on the kitchen counter RIGHT next to the computer. He's currently on the other side of the computer, tangled in the power cable, very uncomfortable, his chin resting on a plastic container of grape tomatoes. Purring. At least it's better than tap dancing on the keyboard while I try to type. Sigh.

No wait! Solution found! I tried to take a picture of him because he looked cute. He moved immediately to the cat bed. (Of course, now he's trying to dump crockery on my head from the cabinets above.)

3.) Live word counter (instead of a bell).

I don't like MS Word. At all. I don't like ANY fancy schmancy word processor. I use it when I have to, but I prefer to compose in a plain text editor. (For those of you who read manuscripts for me, this is why I use _underscores_ to mark italics.) The problem is that Apple's TextEdit doesn't have a word count feature.

Enter NanoCount, a nifty little program that monitors whatever you're typing in TextEdit, and displays your word count and a progress bar in a little window. I find being able to glance at my progress not only tells me how much more I should be writing, but also gives me a warm glow of accomplishment. It makes me challenge myself to go just a little more before I'm done with a writing session. "Oh, maybe another 57 words to round it up to the nearest hundred," I'll say. And then I'll overshoot and have to write 94 more words to get it to the next 100. (It helps to be obsessive compulsive.)

4.) Daily Documents, and periodic editing sprees.

To take best advantage of NanoCount, I find it's good to start with an empty document, and type everything there for the day so I don't have to do any math. Part of the point of a tool like NanoCount is immediacy.

But that leaves me with a problem. I don't write in chronological order (or any logical order), so knitting together the pieces will be necessary later. Also, I'm finishing a book which is two thirds done, and I have some great bits and dialog and twists which need to be worked into the new material (or the new material worked into the old).

So one of the things I hope to do on Tuesdays and Thursdays is to knit things together in Word. That should involve a token amount of new writing, too. But generally, it will be easier to do on a day I was at work all day.

In the meantime....

Here is a little more art for the day. After playing with art at work today, I took another look at my preliminary font tests and decided I had a problem. The design looks a little too much like a kid's book. I need to work on ways to get more copy space for the title and name. I also found my font and some new references. I'll talk about both of those later. But for now, here are a few more variations on the design. (The art is still a preliminary sketch, but I have to admit I'm beginning to really like the simplicity of it in a thumbnail....)

See you in the funny papers.

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