Thanks to daylight savings time, the sun’s already up when I take my walk in the morning.  Doesn’t help the temperature. It’s 37 out.  A beech tree in the park is finally changing color, but it’s muddy yellow and not very pretty.  Too dry and too wet this year.  The trees don’t know what to make of it!

I do an errand of running two shirts down to the cleaners for alterations to the sleeves.  The sleeves just need to be taken up about half an inch so it fits me right. The Asian woman who does the alterations is surprised that I’m bothering with it.  I guess that goes to how little people alter some items, evidently expecting them not to last.  I spent extra on quality shirts because I want them to last for years.  Getting them to fit right seems only the proper thing to do.

I write two newsletters for my sequence.

After that, on and off all afternoon working on the book.

I also order a used copy of a book called Food Literacy.

Pantsing 101: Know Your Tools

This is one of those things that shouldn’t impact your writing and can in a major way.

Know how to use your word processing program.

In the early days of the internet, I found a book on getting certified for Microsoft Word.  I doubt if it’s in print anymore, and this was the early 2000s anyway.  Hard to believe it was that long.  One side showed the screenshots, the other hand the instructions. I just followed the instructions when I had to do anything in my day job, taking a few minutes to try out one of the skills as I worked on a document.

I’m glad I did because it gave me a decent background in Microsoft Word.  Even with all the changes to the program, I know what it can do and don’t have to think about it.

Whereas, we have writers who struggle to figure out how to do basic tasks.  If you’re a pantser, that’s now adding an extra payload into your brain.  Need to figure out how to get rid of that extra space between paragraphs?  Add an indent?  Double spacing? 

The last thing you want to do is be in full creative mode and suddenly you need to do something in the program and you don’t know how to.  Then you get frustrated and that messes up the writing. I see it in my day job all the time (they usually asked me for help after pulling out their hair).

These are some of the things you’ll need to know (assuming Microsoft Word)

  1. Bolding text and italicizing text
  2. Double-spacing
  3. Setting margins
  4. Dumping that extra space between paragraphs
  5. Search and replace (which is a lot more complicated than it sounds.  You can really screw up your document).
  7. Chapter Headings, which in turn allow you to hop to a chapter.  Handy once your book gets long enough that navigation is tricky
  8. Adjusting spell checker and grammar checker options
  9. Adding a word to the autocorrect feature, because we all have a word we always type wrong.
  10. How to do a page break
  11. Use styles.  These are awesome and underused tools.  Editor wants a different font?  Use the style to change it in a few steps.
  12. Change font style.  Change font size. 
  13. Turn off autocorrect features like when it formats something automatically and you don’t want to do that (very annoying, so says my muse).
  14. Add a header (especially if you’re submitting to anthologies or magazines).

It all adds up.  And if you’re working around a day job, you want as little friction as possible.