Friday, January 20, 2017

A not-so-hidden feature gets in done in three days

I don't talk about my writing process on this blog because I know most people couldn't care less, but I think some of you might be able to relate to this.

I just sent the manuscript for my next full-length release to my beta reader. This is a huge relief. I started working on it two years ago (wait, that long ago?!) and instead of plotting it out in a linear fashion, I wrote it as I needed to get the scenes out. Which isn't the worst way to write, but makes things more complicated when it's a mystery with a lot of moving parts. I didn't have writer's block on this one, but I did have editor's block. I knew I needed to fix a number of things, but it seemed like so many that I couldn't keep track of them.

Part of my issue is that I'm not using Microsoft Word but Google Docs. The machine I do the bulk of my work on is a Chromebook (and I LOVE my Chromebook), and it hasn't seemed worth the trouble to install Word because what I could get for Chrome isn't fully functional. That meant I couldn't take advantage of the outline feature that Word has...or so I thought.

Earlier this week, I saw that some of my chapters were randomly showing up in the outline. I'd seen this on other Google Docs I work with but hadn't known how to use it. I did a little research and found...wait for it...that all I needed to do was highlight chapter titles (or whatever) and change it to a heading style. Yeah...just like what you do in Microsoft Word, though it might be a little easier to change styles.

God is in the simple things

After I spent thirty seconds grumbling at myself, I jumped into the editing. So. Much. Easier. Now. As soon as I saw something I knew I needed to carry through to another section, I could quickly figure out where it needed to go. That was three days ago, and it would have been one if I didn't have to do things like care for my children.

Before I found this (really simple) solution, I was fantasizing about getting something like Scrivener, a software many writers I know use which allows you to visually organize scenes and rearrange by dragging-and-dropping. But something in me resists getting the latest-and-greatest out of principle--and the principle would be not wanting to have to keep up with every new software or gadget. My orientation is to pull as much use as I can out of something before I walk away from it. This is hand-in-hand with being a tidier person, but the lesson here is that we need to be more proactive about researching what we have.

What hidden-to-you features have you discovered that saved you time?