One of its biggest gifts to me personally was the grammar/spell checker. It’s been a time saver for me. It helped me find my obvious mistakes faster, leaving more time for the tricky ones. I don’t have to tell anyone who can reed this blog that functionality never improved anyone’s grammar, spelling or writing discipline. Heck, I bet there are still a couple of mistakes in this paragraph alone.
The real slicer for me has been the endless distraction of the Internet. I can take a quick “break” from writing that turns into hours of surfing. More insidious, I’ll start honest-to-God research for my story, blink, and I’m playing a web browser zombie game. … where I’m the zombie.
“The hardest step is always the first,” is what skydivers say.
First I had to admit that I had a problem at first. Like most addicts, I shifted blame to something else. Back then, I blamed work. Since I spent ninety percent of my work week on a computer every day, it must have been blocking my writing chi by the time I got home.
That never stopped me from gaming, writing long posts on forums and the like, but somehow it blocked up the “real” reason that I spent money on a computer in the first place.
I finally found a workaround.
I wrote long hand. For a while it was fun. I would pick up a journal with a certain look and feel to get me in the mood for a story. I still have the wonderful, rough moleskin that’s earmarked for my supernatural Western. That was a good first step, that evolved in my learning that I could literally write anywhere if I put my passion and heart into a project. Eventually, any composition or notebook would work for me. I just need a place for the first draft to flow without red squiggly lines or a backspace key to tempt me.
The flip side to that was I had to type all this stuff into the computer. Booooooring! Sadly, though, longhand+typing was still faster than trying to type it alone. Rewriting seemed to be something that I can focus on a bit more.
But lately, I've been wanting to up my game in the speed department , so I aimed at getting me to back to writing solely from the keyboard.
Sheer willpower didn't do the trick, unfortunately.
I've been trying to use these “distraction free” writer programs. They fill your whole screen with your words, won’t let you shrink the window and some don’t even let you backspace. That last one is such a killer for me.
I don’t mind have a whole handwritten page that’s crossed out like someone left it in a crib with a crayon and a baby coked out on sugar cereal. But if I have a whole worthless typed page, I've got to go find that later on a laptop with a screen that’s only going to show me a third of page at a time. (When is someone going to invent a cheap Legtop computer? Right side is preferred.)
Overall, though I have to admit, I am pleased with my first month of using the distraction free program. I squeezed out two extra pages and didn't have to commit anything to paper.
But today I discovered that I can still use ALT-TAB to shut the window.