Posts Tagged ‘ Tips ’

Back Up or Suffer the Consequences

Being a techie guy, sometimes I assume things I do are things everyone does. In my time working in the IT field, it’s been made very clear to me that even in this digital age people do not take basic precautions to ensure their data is safe. Us nerds all shout from the mountaintop but until it happens to you, you’ll continue to ignore the warning: Back up your data.

I think about data backup every once in a while but it was an event that took place on Saturday that drove a point home to one writer’s social circle. My friend Melanie posted on Facebook that she was on the home stretch of her edits and she was showing the last 80 pages of her WIP who’s boss. We cheered and encouraged her to make it to the end. Shortly thereafter a post came up that would strike fear in the hearts of any writer:

I’ve edited 80 pages… and FINISHED this draft, then… my anti-virus software deleted my files.

A collective “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” was heard across the interwebs as we all experienced something no one should go through: the loss of data into the ether of nothingness. Now Melanie’s a smart cookie because she backs up her files but those were gone too. She also syncs to Dropbox where the files were gone as well. What’s a writer to do? Luckily Dropbox is awesome and THEY also back up files. Using their handy dandy website, Melanie was able to recover a very-recent version of her manuscript and get almost everything back. An insurmountable 80-page loss turned into a completely doable 17-page recreation. With the edits fresh in her mind, 30-minutes was all she needed to reach the end again.

What’s the moral of the story? You guessed it: Back up your data. This is something I’ve been obsessed with for years and ever since I began writing a few years ago, I’ve become more diligent to ensure I lose nothing. When I write in Scrivener, it auto-saves every 3 seconds of idle time after any change has been made to my WIP. It also has a built-in ‘Snapshots’ feature that keeps versions of each part of the document. I try to take a snapshot every few writing sessions. Once I’m done for the day, my Mac has Time Machine running to take care of the rest. In less than 60-minutes, it’s hourly backup runs and copies the file to my spare drive. That’s not enough for me though. I also use OS X’s Backup program to back up my entire ‘Writing’ folder daily at 1AM. Finally, every once in a while I will also completely duplicate my WIP file into a backup file in case the master version is ever corrupted beyond repair.

Between all these methods, it would take a catastrophic failure of epic proportions (or someone really messing with me) to cause my WIP to be lost forever. Luckily for me Time Machine also backs up my entire Mac so my music, movies and irreplaceable photos are also safe. Remember we live in a digital world where data is erased forever as easily as it’s created. If you do ANYTHING creative backing up is not an option. It’s required.

PS- Help Melanie out!! Dropbox is a fantastic and FREE service and gives you extra space if your friends sign up. Since I don’t even use half of my space, the Dropbox link in paragraph 3 is Melanie’s referral. Sign up through that link to toss her some extra space while you get 2Gb!

Talk your way out of it

You’ll have to excuse the lack of picture for today’s post. I spent a good 10 minutes looking for a picture that would fit today’s topic or be a play on words for today, but I was unable to find anything. So, you’re stuck with just this entry.

Right now, I want you to close your eyes, lean your head back and go ahead and imagine that this post is typing itself. Well, that’s exactly what is going on. This post is the first half of what I want to demonstrate for my new writing setup. Late last year, during my writing group, one of the members talked about how she uses a dictation program in order to get all of her writing done. The main motivation for this was that her wrists and hands were hurting so much that it hurts type after a while. She told me about the program Dragon naturally speaking and said how amazingly accurate it was.

Now, I really didn’t believe her because I had used a different dictation program back in college only about four or five years ago. But let me tell you that the program was atrocious! It would only get about 50% of the words correct, and then at a certain point, for whatever reason it felt like, it would just start typing gobbledygook. Only after using it for about two weeks that I decided it was garbage and I threw it out. I really should’ve went back to the store and got my money back, but I was just that upset. I was relegated to physically typing all of my papers for the rest of my college career. Anyhow, this person from my writing group was extremely correct in how accurate this software has become.

Right now my hands are behind my head and I’m very relaxed. My eyes are closed. I am dictating this entire blog post to all of you. Now, I do use a Macintosh so that means that I cannot use Dragon NaturallySpeaking. There is a new program now, called MacSpeech Dictate. This program uses the Dragon NaturallySpeaking engine but they implemented it for the Macintosh platform. This program has heavily impressed me even to the point were I went out and bought a $20 microphone. I tested it out for about two or three weeks, and decided that it really is amazing. It does get tripped upon words here and there, but it is only a program so I don’t expect it to be 100% accurate. I have a little headset microphone that doubles as speakers for my computer so I can listen to music and dictate at the same time if I feel like it.

The program is easy to set up, and I only have to do a little bit of training to get it to accurately recognize my voice. When you run it for the first time, you go through about a 10 minute reading process where it listens to everything you’re saying and tries to adjust itself to how you speak. After that it is very accurate. If you wish to fine-tune even further, there are two other selections you can read to train even further. An additional benefit, is that you can use the software to control your computer. I can dictate commands to have it control my computer and have it open and close programs. Overall, I am very very satisfied with this product.

So, I am really hoping that this program helps me generate my writing even faster. I think that once Spirit hackers is ready to go, I can use this program in order to dictate thousands of words much faster than I can ever typed them. And my wrists won’t hurt when I’m done!

So what do you guys think? Do any of you use dictation software? Have you tried it in the past? It’s definitely something to look into, especially if you do tons of writing. Also, most modern headset microphones don’t make you look like a total dork!

Just Write Blog Carnival: May 16, 2008 Edition

Welcome to the May 16, 2008 edition of Just Write. Thanks to everyone who submitted! As usual, we have some bright people sharing information about the world of writing. Please visit them and encourage them all to keep up the good work.

Book Reviews

Cindy King presents Book Review – Letting Go Of The Words – Writing Web Content That Works By Janice Redish posted at Cindy King, saying, “Letting Go Of The Words is a must read for anyone involved with a website or blog. This is not about the tools you need or anything technical. This book is about web content and information strategies. It’s about “planning, selecting, organizing, writing, illustrating, reviewing, and testing content”…that gives readers a successful and satisfying web experience.”

The Writing Life

Steve Osborne presents Writers: Don’t Be Seduced by Photography posted at TheWritersBag.com, saying, “Steve Osborne, author of “Writing Tips for the Real World,” is a professional freelance writer and writing instructor with over 20 years of experience.”

Writing Mechanics

Jim Murdoch presents You probably think this blog is about you (part three) posted at The Truth About Lies, saying, “Third of four articles on ‘thinly veiled autobiographies’”

Orna Ross presents Five Keys To Writing Excellence by Orna Ross posted at WRITING ADVICE & PUBLISHING ADVICE from Font, saying, “All good writing shares five common characteristics. Orna Ross takes us through them.”

Writing Projects/Prompts

Christina M. Rau presents Phone Calls And Conversations (Or Fifty Ways To Need A Lover) posted at The Unromancing Of Roma, saying, “Chapter 2 of The Unromancing of Roma–Marie gets a date!”

Aaron Crocco presents And Now Something New posted at Aaron Crocco: Copious Notes, saying, “I have announced on my blog that I will be writing an interactive book with help from my readers and post each chapter as I write it.”

Theresa L. Twogood presents Daily Prayer Journal posted at OLIN e-Book e-Publishing.

Writing Resources

Amy Munnell presents Windmills of My Mind…Memoir Markets posted at 3 Questions…and Answers.

Writing Tips

Steve Osborne presents Which Do You Love: Writing or Being a Writer? posted at TheWritersBag.com, saying, “Steve Osborne, author of “Writing Tips for the Real World,” is a professional freelance writer and writing instructor with over 20 years of experience.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of Just Write
using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Just Write BlogCarnival for April 18

Welcome to the April 18, 2008 edition of just write.

Copyrighting/Freelance

Thursday Bram presents Re-thinking My Stance on International Projects posted at thursdaybram.com, saying, “Freelancers often have to make choices about which types of projects they’ll take on. Lately, I’ve been rethinking one of my project criteria.”

Amy Munnell presents Penny for Your Thoughts…Markets for Essays posted at 3 Questions…and Answers, saying, “A discussion of the many types of essays plus a list of markets for everything from op-ed to personal narratives to social commentary.”

Encouragement for Writers

Jim Murdoch presents Is there anybody out there? posted at The Truth About Lies, saying, “A blog about the pros and cons of setting and running a literary blog. Contains links to a number of literary blogs.”

Love Affair With Words

Amy Munnell presents Interview…with author/columnist Darrell Huckaby posted at 3 Questions…and Answers.

Jim Murdoch presents Thunder storms, blinding lights and soggy toast posted at The Truth About Lies, saying, “A discussion of writers’ epiphanies”

James DeLelys presents WORDS » Articles posted at WORDS, saying, “Prejudice…”

The Writing Life

P.L. Frederick presents Oh, The Places You’ll Go (At Building #19) posted at Small and Big.

Aaron Crocco presents A Supportive Environment posted at Aaron Crocco: Copious Notes, saying, “This entry talks about how working in a non-writing environment can hamper the drive to write.”

Writing Mechanics

Amy Munnell presents Workshops & Retreats…Alaska Writers Guild Speculative Fiction Conference posted at 3 Questions…and Answers.

Writing Tips

Amy Munnell presents All the World’s a Stage…Playwriting Markets posted at 3 Questions…and Answers, saying, “Want to Play….Markets for Playwrights”

Ben Hamilton presents That Block posted at Ben Talks….

Kathleen Gage presents Many authors miss a great opportunity for selling their books posted at Street Smarts Marketing & Promotions, saying, “Most authors are on the lookout for effective ways to gain visibility for their books and spark the interest of potential readers/buyers. One method that is gaining popularity is for the author to offer a chapter from their book to the reader at no cost. The most effective way to do this is with an instant download from the author’s blog or website.

Although a great way to gain exposure for a book, most authors will not realize much marketing success with this strategy for a couple of reasons.”

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of just write using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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Round Two

Round 2

So I took a couple of days off from my editing to enjoy some other things in life like watching 24 on DVD with my wife and losing myself in the geekiest hobby ever, World of Warcraft. Tonight though is my time to begin my second round of editing on my Robert story. I’m also going to work on a title for it and my goal is to at least have a working title by Friday. We’ll see how that goes.

My goals tonight are to create more insertables and fatten up the story just a bit with some of the sub-plot. I think I need to focus on one item at a time when going through this stage, so that I’m not all over the place. Hopefully when it’s complete, I’ll have another five to ten pages and a nice, higher wordcount.

Just Write BlogCarnival (edition nine)

Carnival

Welcome to the January 25, 2008 edition of Just Write!

Steve Osborne presents E-Mail Etiquette posted at TheWritersBag.com, saying, “Steve Osborne, author of “Writing Tips for the Real World,” is a professional freelance writer and writing instructor with over 20 years of experience.”

Blogging/Journaling

Stephen Dean presents Deciphering Cosmopolitan Magazines posted at Stephen Dean’s Copywriting And Internet Advertising Blog – Copywriter.

Joshua Wagner presents Love and Fear posted at Total Possibility.

Copyrighting/Freelance

Thursday Bram presents Location Can Matter For Freelance Writers posted at thursdaybram.com.

GWN Lifestyle presents 6 Tips to Copywriting Success posted at GWN Lifestyle.

Encouragement for Writers

Nikita presents The Power, Challenge, and Talent to Write: And Developing it posted at Musings of a Mad Macedonian, saying, “I am just a regular guy with an interest in writing, and maybe doing something worth publishing someday. Part of my efforts on my blog involves encouraging people to write, in addition to hoping to get feedback on my own efforts.”

Nikita presents Prompting Yourself to Write 2: Writing is an act of Hope posted at Musings of a Mad Macedonian, saying, “Something I read in a book on writing that should give any writer food for thought.”

Aaron Crocco presents Lyrically Speaking posted at Aaron Crocco: Copious Notes, saying, “This post talks about music lyrics that can inspire.”

Humor

Brent Diggs presents Writing Prompts for the Not-So-Prompt posted at The Ominous Comma.

Writing Projects/Prompts

Nikita presents Prompting Yourself to Write 3: Describe Your Ideal Writing Space posted at Musings of a Mad Macedonian, saying, “One of a series of Writing Prompts found on my Blog. This one allows the writer to maybe indulge in a little wishful thinking, hee, hee. ;-D”

Writing Tips

Maria Fernandez presents It’s or its, how do I know which one is right? posted at A blog about the books you love, saying, “Do you ever hesitate whether to write “it’s” or “its”? Here are some tips that’ll help you get them right every time.”

Richard Lee presents How To Write Magnetic Headlines posted at Richard Lee.

Jessse Hines presents Want to Write Better? Read Some Road Signs posted at Vigorous Writing.

Jessse Hines presents Got Writer’s Block? Just Eat that Frog. posted at Vigorous Writing.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of Just Write using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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Amazing Writing Tips

Tip Jar

While browsing around some writing blogs out there, I came across one by published author JA Konrath that talks about Escaping the Vacuum. The post talks about ways to improve your writing during the solitary process of writing a book. There is also posted information about networking, feedback and just tons more that is great. He has some amazing tips and I encourage you all to read the entire post.

Here is just some of JA’s great advice:

– Join a writer’s group. Most colleges, libraries, and bookstores have some sort of weekly or monthly gathering of writers. If they don’t, offer to start one.

– Next time you’re among writers (convention, conference, writing class, literary talk) introduce yourself to them. If you find someone with similar interests, offer to trade manuscripts.

Enjoy!

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