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Friday, June 10, 2016

Hacks for Writers

It’s interesting to think of hacks for writers since the words hack and writer have traditionally meant something rather unpleasant.  In fact, being called a hack in any profession has traditionally meant that the person in question was lacking.  So, it’s ironic that hacks have become so popular.

Hacks tend to cut corners so many of the hacks, or tips, basically seem to provide a shortened method of doing something or reaching a goal.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but sometimes when I read some of the hacks for whatever area is being discussed, I’m not always convinced that the shortcut is the best way to do things.

Most lists of hacks focus on 5-10 items but there is a website that lists 1000 hacks for a variety of categories.  My first thought was that I need a hack to get through the long list but I must admit that some of the hacks listed are quite useful.  It does help that they are organized by category, which in a way is a type of hack, and quite a useful one.

So, in the spirit of hacks as a way of helping writers doing something faster or to accomplish a goal here are a few hacks of that I use:

-Capitalize and/or change the font to bold for a particular word in your manuscript to make sure that it is being used appropriately.  The word very comes to mind as one example.  You will know very quickly if you overuse this word by changing the font to bold.
-Put markers in your work as you are writing or rewriting so that you don’t stop and take a side trip that takes you away from finishing the work in question.  I often tag paragraphs with the words research or verify so that I can come back to it after I’ve written a scene or chapter and not get bogged down in details that while important are minor compared to finishing the writing in question.
-Keep a cut file for all those gems that you have to eliminate in the rewrite.  You just might be able to use them in another work and if you change your mind later on and want to put it back in your work then you will know where to find it.
-Keep your research notes in a separate file so that you don’t inadvertently violate copyright laws.  Copy and paste can be both useful and detrimental depending on how they are used.
-Email a copy of your work to yourself periodically so that if you don’t remember to backup your computer, all is not lost.


There – that’s five hacks.

2 comments:

  1. Good tips! I usually email a copy of my WIP to myself each time I make any changes or additions. If I cut something I think I might need later, if it would only go in that book, I stick it at the end of the book so I can grab it later. Word is nice about letting me know where I let off. The hard part is obeying Word and carrying on, instead of polishing something earlier.

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  2. Great ideas. I usually copy and print what I need to delete - a bit old fashioned, but since I was a typist before I ever used a computer, it's old habit.

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