My experiment with Morning Pages

morningpagesThis past week, I’ve explored an exercise called Morning Pages. Julia Cameron of The Artist’s Way explains writing three pages, each morning, in longhand, is a great way to clarify your thoughts and remove ‘cloud thinking’ Sort of like quieting the ‘monkey mind’ in Zazen meditation.

I figured I’d give it a try. I got an old notebook, my favorite pen, and first thing when I got up, after coffee, and ready to start my day, I’d write those pages.

This is what I learned:

Three pages is too much. Two was a bit much for me. Writing in longhand is arduous for me. It hurts. My hand cramps. My handwriting is barely legible. The simple act of writing isn’t so simple for me, which is why I prefer to type. I forced myself to do write two pages instead. Even that felt like I was working through molasses. My monkey mind wanted to be free, and struggled the entire time.

Consider the size and type notebook. I used a composition notebook, which meant almost full 8×10 page, so a Moleskin diary provides smaller pages. Spiral notebooks provide a choice in size as well as writing on flat page.

I complained a lot. Because I didn’t enjoy the entire process, my ‘thoughts’ often centered on how I hated my handwriting, or that I had nothing much to write because my brain barely functions when I first get up.

Three pages took a block of time I could be doing something I enjoyed. While I struggled through this exercise, I wasn’t working on the number of things I wanted to get done (and would enjoy more doing).

On the other hand, I want to share my own advice on this process;

Don’t feel you have to do mornings. Select the time before you’re going to get started on writing to help clear the junk in your head. Since I write in the evenings, I’d write/type after dinner and before I started writing.

Keep a list of prompts to get you started. These can include anything from fiction prompts, to prompts that provoke insight into the inner workings of you mind.

Freewriting for 10-15 minutes instead. Freewriting does the same thing Morning Pages promises- to help with clarity. It can also jump start creativity. It focuses more on the nonsensical and unrestricted ideas in your head. In other words, freewriting is supposed to be a brain dump.

Go in with a better attitude. I fully admit I didn’t have the right mindset for it to work. Even if I started complaining/whining, switch to more pro-active thinking, and move on. Unhappy with the strain of thought? Scratch it out and start again. No one will read it.

Have you tried Morning Pages? Do you need to find clarity to sort out thoughts to write? What are your experiences in freewriting? Please comment and let me know your thoughts.

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A Writer’s Dashboard

writer dashboard

For my writer’s group, and the visitors who visit the Western Maryland Writers Site, I designed a writer’s dashboard. You can bookmark it and save it for later, so you can use tools and resources.

Ambience– I’ve included a number of ambience sites that provide background noise for writing. They include background noise of a café to nature sounds, to sites that provide mix-and-match, even with music.

Generators– Here you can find name generators for modern day fiction or fantasy, but also a link to more tools. I’ll add more as I find them.

Members– This is where you can find the group members and links to their sites/blogs.

Programs– I’ve included word processors, but also programs to help organize your writing.

Printables–  Sometimes I have handouts, but I also make other printables such as quotes to have on your desk, or cards to send. More to come.

Writing– This links leads to all things writing, from drafting to publishing and marketing.

Let me know if you want more tools, generators, links, and resources added. If you have suggestions, please post in comments.

 

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Word Processing: 10 Cool Keyboard Tricks

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While editing a manuscript, I found a need to make the process faster with the use of hotkey (keyboard shortcuts), wildcards, and some keyboard tricks to get things done.

These work only in MS Word.

Doing this

Does this

Pressing the dash key 3x will create a horizontal line in your document

== =

Pressing the equal key 3x creates a double line in your document

Ctrl   H

Opens the Find/Replace feature.

Ctrl  E

Aligns text and graphics to center

=rand(08,10)

Type this in your document creates random text if you ever need to add random text.

^p^p

^p

Using Find/Replace, put ^p^p in Find and ^p and this removes manual spaces between paragraphs

Ctrl  SHIFT  m

Inserts a comment where you put your cursor in the document.

SHIFT  F7

Pressing these two keys open the built in Thesaurus. You can often find synonyms by RIGHT-CLICKING over a word. You will choices of words to use.

LEFT CLICK

The mouse

Clicking a word twice will highlight the word. Click three times, and you select the entire paragraph.

 

Find these useful? Share with your friends, subscribe, or leave a comment to let me know. If you have any questions or ideas you’d like me to post a blog about, leave me a note.

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Filed under Editing, Program, tip, Tuesday Tip

Google Drive for Writers

driveforwritersToday I want to share with you some elements of the free Google service known as Drive. This is something like a cloud drive (you can backup files) but also an online program suite. I will be discussing mostly the Docs features.

Google Drive includes:

Docs– This is an online word processor that is compatible with Microsoft Office, OpenOffice, and even Microsoft Works.

Sheets– A spreadsheet compatible with Office, Open office, and Works.

Slides – A presentation service that easily integrates into web sites or shared with others. Compatible to open files from Office and OpenOffice.

Forms – A service to create and compile information from forms. Includes easy to use templates, click and build features, and saves data to the drive for access later.

Drawing– This includes an online service to create or edit graphics. Saves as PDF, JPG, SVG, and PNG.

docs

Google Docs works similar to most word processors, including formatting, templates, and printing. You can open and save, change file formats, and share/collaborate with others online. This also includes revision history. (Saved my butt when I ‘lost’ an entire chapter of a book I was writing).

You can also add ‘add-ons’ which improves function;

Table of Contents – Creates a table of contents that runs as a sidebar.

EasyBib- Bibliography creator

Speech Recognition- So you can talk instead of typing. This works great for those who have issues with typing for long periods of time.

Mind mapping- This is a great tool to plot stories or brainstorm ideas.

ProWritingAid- This is not free, but as an add on that works in the Docs. It corrects grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Screenplay formatter- For the script writers out there, this add on helps with formatting your doc.

Saves in these formats:

DOCX – Document Microsoft Word file

ODT – OpenOffice Document Text file

RTF – Rich Text Format, works with any word processor

PDF- Portable Document Format, used for downloading files and eBooks

TXT – Text. Very simple with very little formatting but can be read by every word processor.

HTML/ZIP – Hypertext Markup Language is what web sites are built. Often used to upload to publish books.

EPUB – EBook file format that can be read by tablets and smart phones. This is new and is an industry standard.


Google drive can also

Cloud Storage– Back up photos, documents, etc. to your cloud drive. This includes 15 GB free, and you can pay $1.99 monthly for 100 more GB.

Collaborate with others–  Not only can you share files with others, they can view or even edit them. You can also share LIVE with others. Some authors now share their writing in real time for fans to check out their process. Share via email or link on your blog. You can even embed files too

Share anywhere– Google Drive works on PC, Mac, smart phone, and tablets.

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