Archive | September 2016

Finally, the Password!

I moved into my new room on Saturday. Today, by calling on my all-but-forgotten networking knowledge from former jobs, I was able to discover the WiFi password for the house. (Yes, I had already got permission from my landlord/roommate.)

So I’m all set on my iPad and iPhone; still looking for a desk or table for my laptop. Until then, I’ll use my iPad for my blogs. And while it does a wonderful job, it’s not a replacement for a computer. At least this generation iPad isn’t.

Staceys iPad Pro, however, comes pretty close. At least it will do everything she needs to do, so I guess that does make it a replacement for her broken Macbook.

Writing – or rather typing – on the iPad is slower than on a laptop. But I think that’s a plus, in that I truly have to think about every word I use. I haven’t mastered the art of typing with two thumbs (not that I’ve even tried), and so I use one hand to hold the iPad and the index finger of the other to type. Slow going, but my SwiftKey predictive keyboard helps considerably.

 So that’s today’s news. Now I think I’ll treat myself to a nap!


The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

I had a slight delay in posting: I got locked out of my blog account. It seems I had forgotten my password and exceeded the limit for trying to guess at it. I was finally able to reset it, but it took a few days before (1) I was able to use it to log in and (2) have the “You’ve Exceeded The Number of Login Attempts” fairies to reset themselves.

Anyway, all is good now. In fact, things are better than good! I’ve found a place of my own. I knew that staying with Stacey was only temporary, and Craig’s List came through for me again. It’s only a room in a house, with two roommates, but I’ll have privacy when I need it, and peace and quiet when I want to write, with no dog to distract me.

But don’t misunderstand: I love Fyona and think she’s the best dog in the world, but when I’m trying to write and she comes to me wagging her tail, I can’t resist. I’ll spend 10 minutes petting her and playing with her, and lose my train of thought.

My new landlord said he’s open to me moving in sooner than the October 1st date he put in the ad; I’m thinking of this Saturday as the day.

Stacey and I will both breathe easier when I’m gone, and we’re not constantly tripping over each other. It’s been great seeing each other, but she spends her day in her room, and I spend mine on my laptop on the kitchen table, both of us in self-imposed isolation.

So that’s where things stand with me right now, and they continue to look brighter.

There’s More to Writing Than Just Software

*sigh* If only it were that easy. If only the right tool could turn me into another Hemingway, Ivins, or Patterson. I’d be so productive and rich.

That used to be my dream, a long time ago. But that was before I realized that being a writer was a job, not just a fantasy.

And there are far too many distractions. I’ll plan my writing for a given day, and then realize I need to do a little research on the topic first. So it’s over to Google, Wikipedia, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, where I dutifully copy down (and cite) the information.

I can focus on these things for a while, but before I know it, I’m on Reddit watching animated gifs. I push off the things I want to do because they’re difficult. After all, it’s easier to watch old episodes of House on Netflix than write blog articles. –Dan Murphy

It was the advent of the Internet in general and the World Wide Web in particular that impressed on me the importance of having a daily writing strategy. And while I don’t always follow it, I find that when I do, I’m a lot more productive than when I don’t.

My Daily Writing Routine

Wake up, get outta bed, drag a comb across my head. Find my way downstairs

I’ll skip the details of getting out of bed and all of the accompanying details. I’ll start my routine where I actually start to write.

Step 1

I begin with a nice strong cup of tea. I used to drink coffee, but when the day came that I ran out of coffee mugs and realized it was because a) they were all scattered all over the house, half-filled with cold coffee and b) I don’t really like coffee, I made the switch and haven’t looked back since.

Strong tea? Yes, strong. I use 2 bags in a standard-size coffee mug. My Nana always said that a proper cuppa should be so strong that “a wee little mousie could trot along the top of it.” My favorites are, in no particular order, black Assam, Irish Breakfast, PG Tips, and Earl Grey.

What can I say? It’s generic: we were Liverpudlians to start.

Step 2

Next, I launch Scrivener and hit F11 to go into Full-Screen mode. This gives me a blank screen with no distractions, not even so much as a menu bar. Now I can start writing.

Formatting, spelling and grammar checking—these all come later. The important thing is to get something, anything, written. Everything else is distraction. I keep plowing through until I’ve reached my daily goal of 1000 words, and then I stop.

Now it’s time to go back and edit the sucker. Now is the time for the spelling checker and (rarely) the grammar checker. Now come the little prettifiers, such as italics and bold face, hyperlinks, etc.

But the most important thing of all is to get the words written down!

Step 3

Finish with another cup of tea as a reward.

It Really Is That Simple

Or, as Ernest Hemingway put it, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Everything about my routine can be changed to suit your preferences. I usually write in the morning because there are fewer distractions.Writing inn the morning also helps the rest of my day be better, because I’ve already accomplished something positive, and that feeling tends to stay with me all day.

In Conclusion

The simple key to being a writer: write! Carry a notebook (or iPhone, iPad, Android tablet). Many people swear by a Moleskine notebook; whatever works for you. You never know when that idea will hit you. I’ve woken in the middle of the night to write down an idea, which is one of the reasons I keep my iPhone next to me at night.

An Experiment in Technology

I’ve recently been wondering about the effects that different writing tools have on the act of writing. I’ve always been curious about this, and in the mid 1980s I even wrote a college thesis on the subject. I had created a questionnaire for my fellow students to see what, if any, effect that then-brand-new technology called word processing had on their writing.

Today, some 30 years later, I’ve reprised the question: is my writing any different on my laptop, my iPad, or my iPhone?

My writing instrument of choice is my laptop computer. It has a large screen, but what I like the most about it is the ability to switch quickly to a dictionary or a thesaurus when I need to, and the ability to Google® any subject I like.

My iPhone and iPad are both handy when I get an idea when I’m away from my computer. I can jot down a note, idea, or whatever and have it available when I get home again. I will admit that I prefer the iPad to the iPhone.

(I’ll list all of my writing software on the Writing Software page.)

Robyn Jane

Nacho Nachos, OUR Nachos!

Something that helps keep relationships strong is sharing the same taste in food. Last night was my turn to fix dinner, so when Stacey texted me from Wegman’s wanting to know what my plan was for dinner, I immediately replied, “Either nachos or quesadillas.” (I had already asked her to pick up a bag of grated cheddar.)

After several texts back and forth, we had decided on nachos with onions, salsa, cheese, sour cream, and guacamole. I prefer to add chicken, but that’s what we had Wednesday night, and neither of us was in the mood for leftovers.

One of Staceys texts wanted to know about the sauce we had in the refrigerator door. She had typed “salsa,” but her over eager autocorrect stepped in and what I got was “What about the Saudi in the refrigerator? Hot?”

I ate dinner in fear of the NSA sending Homeland Security to burst in on us.

Oh, and the salsa? Wegman’s own brand of peach-mango salsa is om-nom-nom yummy good!

The only downside to the dinner? The oven heats up the kitchen to the point where it’s almost unbearable. Sorry, but no. We have no microwave, so nachos have to be done in the oven. Fortunately, it’s starting to be autumn, which will mean lower temperatures.
Which, in turn, will mean more baked goodies.