Blogger’s Block

635641316744273312I hadn’t realized how much I’ve neglected this blog.  I blame blogger’s block- which is like writer’s block but for blogs. I wasn’t inspired, and everything I’d start to post seemed stupid and lacked depth.

I think, however, it is this type of block that demands a writer to write anyway. Ignore the stupidity, lack of entertaining phrases, and just blither if you must. Some authors claim you work through the block. And it’s not as if you have to post what you manage to type up.

Perhaps I will focus on other types of posts, like sharing links to writing programs, author’s sites, review writer-related products, or just blither on about Life in general. After all- a writer’s journey is just that- a journey. We meander away from sitting in front of a computer screen to get out into the world to find inspiration, right?

As for writing, I’ve worked a bit on some short stories in the hopes of publishing. I’m working on a sequel to Into the Shade, getting a few more reviews that were good. I’m also working on a novel, with another novel nagging at me to be written. Wait your turn!

Fireflies: A Vampire Story has some downloads but not many reviews. I’m also hoping to get my writer’s group another possible anthology but also to encourage my fellow authors to get their short stories published.

So on to the adventure!

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Formatting Manuscript and Helpful Writing Links.

SimpleLPCLogo copyWith my writer’s group, I often write up a newsletter for the members so they get the information we covered, but also to share with the members who couldn’t join, to catch them up on the topic.

Today’s meeting was all about manuscript formatting.

Manuscript formatting for standard publishing:

Always remember to follow guidelines, but these are the suggested standard formatting list of your manuscript.

Writer’s Digest: What Are the Guidelines for Formatting a Manuscript? This covers some of the basics to formatting your document. Remember, you’ll also need a synopsis and letter if you want to publish through a publishing company.

A Step-by-step Guide to Formatting Your Book’s Interior (Createspace.com) E-publishing and print-on-demand for Amazon marketplace. With e-publishing, you need to format correctly in order for the pages to view correctly on e-readers. Createspace also provides templates specific to the size books you want to use.

Click here to view templates you can download.

The Basics of DIY (Do It Yourself) E-Book Publishing by Writer’s Digest provides lots of tips to follow for publishing, to help decide how to publish but also the basics on how to publish.

Find and Replace Tips for MS Word- (Includes how to find and replace manual indents, double spaces, and more)

Find: ^t (this code will find all manually indents in your manuscript)

Replace (leave blank)

This will delete all manual indents

Want to know more things you can do with Find/replace? Click here.


Programs:

Chapter-by-Chapter:

This program provides a way to organize your MS Word documents (also works with OpenOffice) to sort files into chapters. You can then have the program assemble all files into a single Word file to publish. Unfortunately, this does not work with Mac computers.

https://sites.google.com/site/sebberthet/chapter-by-chapter

Need a quick tutorial on how to use the Chapter-by-Chapter? Check out my YouTube Video;

  Dropbox.com

Dropbox is one of many ‘cloud drives’ which are used to back up and share files. What I love about Dropbox is that it is easy to use and can synchronize files between smart phones, computers, and the Internet so you can always get your files.

http://www.dropbox.com

Want to learn more about the other cloud drives? Here is Top 10 Personal Cloud-Storage Services you can choose from. 

Web Site: https://www.openoffice.org

OpenOffice is a free software suite that includes a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation programs. This is free and works with MS Office documents.

“Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row”- Ray Bradbury

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Sitting versus running (from Zombies)

blogzombiesI spend a lot of time on the computer. I’m self employed with my business, Learnthepc.net, so I spent time working on web sites, templates, consulting, and sometimes computer repair (remotely). I also work on graphics, web design, blogging, and writing. This means a lot of sitting.

There are studies on the dangers of sitting too much. One can assume this includes work related sitting as much as school related sitting, and writers tend to also sit while they work their craft. The studies indicate that sitting

The American Medical Association (AMA) agrees that sitting for extended periods of time can be bad for personal health. Click here to read more details, and the sources of the information.

So I’ve found some tips and tricks to help get moving that might help, that are either free or low cost;

Use reminders to get up and move. Getting a program or reminder app to get you moving helps with keeping the blood flow.

facetopFadetop.com provides a nice (free) program that periodically reminds you to get up and move without shutting you out of your work.

You can also use your Smart Phone to set off alarms every so often to remind you get away and move around a bit. Set this under the Reminder app, or use the alarm app.

Get a treadmill or use the one you have. What you see here in the picture is a shelf to attach to the treadmill to walk while using the PC. Please remember to walk 2 mph or at a slow pace so as not to trip and hurt yourself.

You can also find furniture to accommodate a treadmill, or you can also buy treadmills specific to being a desk and treadmill in one. They even have stationary bike desk ($299) as well. The desk itself is rather simple. I can see you could make one out of wood or PVC pipe as well.

DIY Treadmill Desk

DIY Desk via Instructables

DIY Treadmill from PVC

Dictate your writing. Whether you use your Smart Phone, MP3 recorder, or just an old fashioned tape player, dictate your writing to transcribe later while you take a walk around the block, or even step in place.

Use Text-to-Speech software (just so you know, Windows already has this feature built in.)

How to use Dictation on Smart phone and tablets.

Use an activity tracker. I prefer Fitbit Flex over the many trackers out there, and you could use an iPhone app as well (see below). The idea is that you are moving, and seeing how much you move throughout the day.

Fitbit Flex – ($100) This activity trackers tracks all steps, even if you walk in place. While playing Skyrim, I clocked over an mile. Each time my character ‘walked’, I would stand up and step side to side. I could feel it, too. (Imagine how fit I would be if it counted Dragon killing!).

striivStriiv iPhone App– (free) This was entertaining because it includes a little game in the app. While you walk, you turn on the app. It starts counting steps. More steps and you earn more ‘energy’ or ‘coins’ to use in the game that builds a little village. You can get the Striiv activity tracker, but I just used the app by itself.

zombiesrunZombies! Run app (iPhone and Android)- Imagine having to run to get away from zombies! This app provides a story you listen to, where you play a ‘runner’ gathering supplies for a village. You periodically get a warning of zombies in the area, and must increase your activity to get away.

So get up and move! Your body will thank you.

Like this post? Please like, share, and comment to let me know. Feel free to also comment with your own tips on moving and being healthy (as a writer).

 

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A Productivity Tip

AWJ Productivity TIps

Since I am a person who can get easily distracted, I’ve been trying some new techniques with focusing for productivity. The goal is to find some methods that will help train my brain to stay on tasks for longer periods of time, as well as provide the breaks needed to avoid burnout.

CaptureProductivity Timer. I downloaded a Google Chrome browser extension called Strict Workflow. There are other timers that can shut off the use of distracting sites like Pinterest (my addiction) and Facebook. What I like is that you can program the extension for the time increment you want. I picked 25 minutes of work, 15 minutes for breaks. You can also edit the list of web sites.

When the extension is active, you are unable to view the distracting web sites until your break.

This extension also utilizes the Pomodoro Technique. You can read more about it at Productivity 101: A Primer to the Pomodoro Technique on Lifehacks.

Journal Record Keeping– Another tool to keep me focused is using a small notebook on my desk to keep track of everything I do. Although I have a to-do list, often through the day other things come up to either distract or demand my attention.

I write the distractions in red so I can return later in the day to work on them.  I write the demands in blue so I can see how much in the way of family, phone calls, business clients, volunteer groups, and other things in my life are also taking me away from my main objectives.

I also add post it notes for new tasks to do that can stick to my desk for a later time.

So far, I’m finding my days very productive, my brain getting more focused, and things are getting done.

What tips do you use to focus and get things done? Post in comments.

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