Keep writing

We’re leaving for New York City in two hours so I thought I better write my post before we go, so here I am at 6 a.m. in bed with my laptop and a bit of a sore throat. There’s no time to be sick around here. I prefer my desktop computer for writing but I don’t want to get out of bed just yet – I’m feeling too cozy. I might pause for a second to get coffee.

OK, I’m back, coffee at my side. I’ve also prepared a cocktail of Alka-Seltzer Plus cold to tamp down whatever’s building in my system. No one wants to be tromping around NYC not feeling well and I hope it does the trick. Now I need my reader glasses to write this without straining the eyes. The joys of aging. Back again. I realize I don’t like this little laptop because it does some crazy stuff without my knowing how it does it. Suddenly the cursor will be in the middle of a word three lines up and I’m messing up the post. I feel like I’ve already put too much effort to write this in bed that I can’t give up on it.

So far I’ve written about nothing yet. Two hundred words of nothing. What topic do I want to tackle today? Let’s talk about writing tools. Several months ago I discovered an app called Grammarly , an app that, you guessed it, helps you correct your grammar as you write. I corrects spelling, punctuation and even rewords passages for you which you can either accept with a click or ignore. I usually ignore since this isn’t a foolproof app.

Every week I get an email with a recap of my grammar improvements for the week and I have just ignored them until last week. I spied the message preview and saw this:  You’ve set a new personal record in the vocabulary category! Whose interest wouldn’t be peaked by that? Of course I clicked.

It breaks down your writing in the categories of productivity (how many words you wrote), accuracy (how many alerts you were shown), vocabulary (how many unique words you used) and then it gives you the option to upgrade to check out the advanced mistakes you made. This is pretty cool. It also shows how you’re doing compared to other Grammarly users and there is my new record in the vocabulary category – I used 1,373 unique words and that’s 93% more unique words than other Grammarly users. Yay for me! It’s small victories like this that can keep you going!

Another tool I started using yesterday was an app (or a program?) called Scrivener. I decided to take a peek at the novel I started over the summer and this is a tool for writing in a format that will be ready for publishing when it’s complete. I copy and pasted my intro and started  summarizing the characters on note cards on a virtual bulletin board. That’s as far as I went. I’m currently doing a 30 day trial and here’s the cool thing about this trial period. Only the days you write and use the app count towards the trial. I had installed it a few weeks ago but yesterday was the first time I opened it and got going so I still have 29 days of use and they don’t have to be concurrent days.

i would describe myself as a bit of a neophyte when it comes to blogging. I decided to join a few blogging groups on Facebook but I’m finding it all a bit confusing. One of my goals for this month is to figure out how to do this better and increase visitors to my site. I figure by the end of the month I’ll have a better handle on it. Do you have any particular tools you use for writing or blogging?

Happy writing!

MC

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I will write today

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A cup of coffee and a blank page. Must be Friday morning. Again, I didn’t post yesterday for the daily blog challenge for the month of November. Wednesday night’s post was written in bed at 10:00 p.m. after traveling home from Chicago and then catching up with the family.  Yesterday was catching up on work, a meeting that ran late and then rushing to get to the annual mother child dinner for Liam’s school. I was pretty exhausted and didn’t feel like socializing and being in a noisy environment with only one hearing aid didn’t help. The other one broke on Sunday afternoon just as I was to head to the conference.

We got through the night and on the ride home all I could think about was going directly to bed. As soon as we got home (it was after 9:30 at this point), Liam wanted to watch TV because there wasn’t school in the morning. I knew if I let him stay up while I went to bed, he’d be up very, very late so I argued with him for about 15 minutes before I finally used a little bribery to get him to bed. Again it was 10:00 before I got into bed and a blog post wasn’t going to happen. I couldn’t even muster up fifteen minutes of reading time and was asleep when my head hit the pillow.

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Finding the Time to Write

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I have read several books on writing and attempted the twelve week program outlined in The Artist’s Way over the summer (I didn’t make it past week three). The advice I most often see is to write in the morning and to commit to a block of time to do so. This sounds great to me but then I remember I have a job. A job where I’m in the office at 7 a.m. so right there I throw out the idea of morning writing. I so want a true writer’s life where I can devote specific hours to it every day.

For a time I tried getting up at 5 a.m. so I could at least put in an hour in the morning but that lasted as long as the end of summer when darkness and cooler weather enticed me to remain under the covers until 6 only giving myself enough time to quickly shower and dress before leaving the house at 6:40. When I was morning writing, some days it would be hard to break away from the rhythm after an hour.

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Daily Blogging Challenge

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In my internet wanderings yesterday, I happened across a post at See Jane Write about a daily blogging challenge for the month of November. I thought to myself, wow, people really blog daily, and then, no way could I do that. However, the thought kept niggling away at my brain until I was saying heck yeah! Challenge accepted!

I was hoping to have some guidance on how to make this a reality and luckily, upon further review, the post had some suggestions on how to successfully #bloglikecrazy for an entire month. Typically I don’t put a ton of thought into the topics I write about. That’s pretty clear, right, since I don’t blog very often and then they are about random things. My posts tend to grow out of a particular situation presently occurring in my life.

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Writing about …

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Week one of the writing class was interesting.  The class is from six to eight every Thursday evening and at 5:45 last week, instead of traveling the 20-minute route to my class, I was running the kiddo back to school for some homework he forgot and absolutely needed. I’m trying to let him experience natural consequences when these things happen but he was near tears and I acted with my heart instead of my head knowing it was going to make me late. My GPS calculated my arrival at the Arts Center to be 6:20 but I didn’t realize how impossible the parking was going to be and circled the neighborhood several times which added another 20 minutes to the trip. Honestly, I nearly decided to bail and go home but something wouldn’t let me take the easy way out.

I ambled into the classroom a good forty-five minutes late (this was week one for me and week two for everyone else) and I interrupted an animated discussion which felt a bit awkward. Everything stopped and the instructor said “you must be Mary”, to which I blurted out quick apologies. I scanned the room for a chair, and after I sat, realized why it was empty. The arm clattered to the floor when I went to pull it in. I briefly wished I had just gone home.

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Why I Write

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Writing has fallen by the wayside. Again. What is a wayside? The edge of a road. My thoughts are a bit disjointed if you can’t tell. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve put pen to paper in my journal and I’m starting to feel the weight of it. All the thoughts and ideas that keep churning around without a place to put them.

I start another writing class tonight which is actually week two and I’ve been catching up on the material I missed last week. One of them was an essay by Terry Tempest Williams titled “Why I Write“. It’s a beautiful piece and it covers just about every reason to write and I nodded along as I read. “I write to quell the pain. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts.” Yes, yes, yes. And also this: “I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words, to say the words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable we are, how transient.”

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Stand up and write!

I am now a proud user of something called a CubeCorner 36 which is basically a standing desk.  When I googled it to link for the link, I was brought to a picture of a desk a bit different than the one I have in that it is white and a little wider. I love things that are white because they make me think of clean design and it’s a bit more of a contrast to my black monitors. I’m a bit jealous I didn’t get a white one, but since the office paid, I will not complain.

 

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My desk is like this but black

 

How does the desk work? It goes up and down by holding a couple of handles on either side and then you pull up and forward to go up and push away and down to go down. Going up is pretty easy but putting it back down was a bit of struggle at first. I’m either getting better at it or the joints in the desk are loosening up.

I didn’t know if I should jump right into standing so I did a little reading on the topic before commencing this activity. A few sources recommended starting slow, maybe 20-30 minutes at a time which I’ve been gradually increasing over time and now stand about 2 hours a day in 30-minute increments.  I think the goal is to spend about 3 to 4 hours standing each day which is about half of the workday.

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