Richard's Resources...




Spend More Time On Your Phone To Complete Your Manuscript  
For some, a cellphone is a distractor - with its ability to text, email, stream videos, and play games to name a few features.  But your phone can also encourage writing and provide tools to help you finish your story and improve the quality the prose.

~Distractions
Do you need some help with the temptation of checking social media or emails while writing? Try the app ‘Write Or Die’.  This program will actually delete your hard-written work if you slow or stop progressing. Really! There are even apps that turn off your phone during the time you are supposed to be writing.
 
You can always stream your favorite writing soundtrack if that helps. Turning your phone on airplane mode and hiding it under your bed is an option too.

~Encouragement
One of my favorite tools is the Pomodoro Timer. (see prior post tomatoes-and-writers-block) This device focuses your efforts into more manageable time segments. Scientific results show when a finite and chronological deadline is set you work more efficiently and productively. Maybe that’s why so many people wait until the day before a project is due to begin.

~Notes & Research
Everynote.com is one widely used program to help save ideas, quotes, or anything you want to later review. And more functionality is available with this tool.

~Collaboration
GoogleDocs is one way to easily share your work with another writer or editor to gain faster response and easier transition than sending documents back and forth via email or physically exchanging a flash drive.  My writing group uses DropBox to share and edit projects.

~Grammar
There are loads of wonderful apps and sites to help virtually critique your work as well as help with spelling and alternative words.  The standby Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com are accompanied by newer sites such as Grammarly.com.

~Story
Need some help sculpting your plot? There are many apps and programs to help track the beats of your story and provide suggestions to make sure the arc flows. Search and learn for yourself.

~Writing
My favorite app is Scrivener.  This software, also available for laptops/desktops, takes your writing organization to a new level and offers conversion options of your manuscript to format choices. (see prior post how-writing-software-improved-my-writing-process) The app gives you the ease to return to your story no matter your location. I’ve written in the doctor’s office, on my couch, and even while on a bus – all from my phone.

~Audio
Give your fingers a rest and try Dragon Dictation. This program will convert your verbal dictation into text for you to edit later. Some writers find dictation a faster way to reach word counts.

The number of helpful programs that can be used from your phone are endless. Research the options available and find one that you like and fits within your budget then use it to the fullest to create that next great work! If you are a better writer with paper and pencil then do that, but leave your cell phone out of sight and reach.

What programs have you found useful? Let me know!

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I hate January!

  Not because of the snow, the cold, or the poor Ohio driving conditions but because there is so much to do. 

  Many evening hours are spent outside shoveling the driveway so family can make it into the garage that night or the next morning.  One of these years I'll documents how much time is spent with this task.

  In addition to taking down all the holiday decorations, inside and out, you have to box them up and walk them up a flight of narrow and rickety attic stairs.  My family is like the Griswolds when it comes to holidays so we have dozen of boxes of decorations to clean up.

  The biggest time suck for me is taxes. I spend time nearly every available night preparing the yearly figures so the IRS may consider giving me some of my hard earned money back.

  And, yes, I do all this begrudgingly as I have little to no time left for writing. Or do I?

If you find yourself short on time to write remember, it's about choices.  Do you want to get thirty minutes less sleep a night? Are you willing to skip the morning news or breakfast? How about your lunch break?

  Everyone has the same number of minutes in a day. It's how you chose to use them that makes the difference, not the other tasks on your list.

  Maybe next year I'll skip putting up the decorations...


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What to do when your writing gets stuck
​What’s a writer to do when they are stuck in their writing process?

And by stuck I mean really, really without a clue on the next step or how to solve a problem. This isn’t about writer’s block, which doesn’t exist (more on that in an upcoming post). This is about technical issues that prevent your work from being completed.
 
I had specific ideas and wants for my latest product, the Design Your Own Golf Course Sketchpad. One of the desired features to be in the book were pages of sample architectural landscape symbols to guide the reader in the creation process. I researched and planned for months what would be listed and how it would be presented. I then struggled a few more months in trying to bring my vision to completion. At an impasse, I leaned back in my chair and calculated my choices.
 
I could pay a professional artist to create this minor item, I could pay for several online graphics and combine them to achieve my desired result, or I could personally hand draw each symbol. I didn’t have the level of artistic ability I needed to perform the work myself and the costs for the other options were too high given the goal and budget for the book. I eventually settled on removing the samples! Did this removal of text lower the value or use of the book? No. It only affected my original idea, and isn’t the concept of a draft to be edited and changed?
 
Another hurdle I had with this project was the footers for the printed book. I wanted nearly a dozen footer options on differing pages. Again, after struggling for weeks I took a step back to consider my options. I could pay a professional editor, contact the local schools for help, or decrease my standards and use the same footer for all pages. Again, I didn’t want to spend loads of money on this book, the schools were out for the summer and my kids didn’t know how to accomplish this, and I wasn’t willing to shortcut my artistic goal. So, taking advice from my previous publisher, I started on a new sheet of paper and recreated the entire project from square one to achieve my goal. This took only a fraction of the time I had spent trying to reformat my existing manuscript.
 
Sometimes, you have to spend the big money in order to have a professional product. This is especially true with cover designs, editing, and formatting. Other times you can do the work yourself to save costs or achieve a very specific end, or not do it at all.
 
Often you need help! A self-published author doesn’t mean you perform all aspects of writing, editing, formatting, publishing, marketing, promoting, accounts, etc. alone. Being an indie author means you are the boss, and that means hiring and firing staff to accomplish your end result.
 
Always you will need to make tough business decisions about your writing and your business. The decision on how much time you’ll spend writing, taking away from other parts of your life is the biggest. Are you willing to give up a movie night to finish that chapter? And how much money are you willing to invest to have a professional product?
 
The next time you have a challenging situation consider if you can do the work yourself professionally, if you can or should hire help, and if what you’re trying to accomplish is even needed. Remember the costs associated with each task and if the costs for outsourcing will be outweighed by the results.
 
Do you have a situation that’s perplexing you? Contact me if you want a fresh perspective


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Where you can find HELP on your writing journey?

New writers just starting their literary journey generally find themselves lost and in need of directions. Don’t feel bad if you experience this, it happens to everyone! The important thing is not to roam around aimlessly but to stop and seek assistance. Even authors who have traveled the same road many times can benefit from local knowledge as new advice can save you time and provide a better view or easier drive.
 
A simple ways to assure safe passage to your destination is to join a writer’s club. Much like the American Auto Association, you can receive education and guidance, generally in exchange for financial dues. Before my first book, The Golf Rules, was published, I joined IWA, theInternational Writer’s Association, and am still a member and regularly take advantage their services. I hear about the latest tricks, useful websites and software available, as well as receive suggestions on many writing, publishing, and marketing topics.
 
Another way a newer writer can receive help is by attending writer conferences. In Ohio, a local event I’ve participated in the last several years is the NorthEast Ohio Christian Writer’s Conference. This event has varying topics on writing, editing, publishing, marketing, social media, and on and on. You may find a multitude of choices near you and each conference will have a different feel, focus, and schedule, not to mention varying costs, so do some research on the agendas and benefits for all the options in your area.
 
Another avenue for help are writing critique groups. These are more informal get-togethers where writers exchange ideas or manuscripts with others to review and provide input. As with conferences and other groups, make sure the organization is a good fit for you. Not all writers are published authors, nor know the best way to market or craft a story, or write in the same genre or writing style as you might. This may cause friction and you may receive unjust, non-useful, or accurate feedback. And one thing that can be said of most writers is we do not like criticism of our work.
 
Hopefully this little roadmap can help guide you on a writing path to Publishville. While the journey can be long and lonely, there are others you can meet alongside the road, or share a ride with if you just stop at the next available exit and seek them out.
 
If you are still unclear on which road to take just contact me. I’d be happy to tell you give you some directions.
New writers just starting their literary journey generally find themselves lost and in need of directions. Don’t feel bad if you experience this, it happens to everyone! The important thing is not to roam around aimlessly but to stop and seek assistance. Even authors who have traveled the same road many times can benefit from local knowledge as new advice can save you time and provide a better view or easier drive.
 
A simple ways to assure safe passage to your destination is to join a writer’s club. Much like the American Auto Association, you can receive education and guidance, generally in exchange for financial dues. Before my first book, The Golf Rules, was published, I joined IWA, the International Writer’s Association, and am still a member and regularly take advantage their services. I hear about the latest tricks, useful websites and software available, as well as receive suggestions on many writing, publishing, and marketing topics.
 
Another way a newer writer can receive help is by attending writer conferences. In Ohio, a local event I’ve participated in the last several years is the NorthEast Ohio Christian Writer’s Conference. This event has varying topics on writing, editing, publishing, marketing, social media, and on and on. You may find a multitude of choices near you and each conference will have a different feel, focus, and schedule, not to mention varying costs, so do some research on the agendas and benefits for all the options in your area.
 
Another avenue for help are writing critique groups. These are more informal get-togethers where writers exchange ideas or manuscripts with others to review and provide input. As with conferences and other groups, make sure the organization is a good fit for you. Not all writers are published authors, nor know the best way to market or craft a story, or write in the same genre or writing style as you might. This may cause friction and you may receive unjust, non-useful, or accurate feedback. And one thing that can be said of most writers is we do not like criticism of our work.
 
Hopefully this little roadmap can help guide you on a writing path to Publishville. While the journey can be long and lonely, there are others you can meet alongside the road, or share a ride with if you just stop at the next available exit and seek them out.
 
If you are still unclear on which road to take just contact me. I’d be happy to tell you give you some directions.


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I've written columns and articles for several magazines, newsletters, and blogs.  Below are some for your education and enjoyment...

Author, Speaker, Golfer

Richard E Todd