Technology - A Help or a Hinderance?

Technology is great.  It often makes our lives easier.  We can check the weather.  Email friends from another country.  Get directions for anywhere - from the nearest fast food chain to visiting a friend many states over.

But it can often claim too much of our time, make us dissatisfied with ourselves, and even lead us into sin if we're not careful.  So we should use technology carefully and with discretion.

As writers, we find technology a great blessing.  There are all kinds of writing programs, geared to help us plot, draft, and edit.  We've got Pinterest and even ye ol' Google search engine to look up pictures for inspiration and help.  We've got music playlists for all sorts of things - general writing, each book, each character, even certain scenes.

There are websites to help us create characters, sketch maps, and design worlds.  We have blogs and magazines and videos with tons of tips, advice, and how-to's.  We can look up agents and editors and publishing houses with aforementioned search engine.We chat with fellow writers via email and PMs. 

We can even self publish with just a few button clicks (okay, so more work should go into it then that, but you get my point).

Guys.  We have it really easy.

Like, really easy.

And I think it's made it harder for us to simply write.  We sit down and spend our writing time looking for reference pictures or making a "writing playlist".  We often don't take a work approach to our writing (I have a post about that later this month, lol).  Instead, we make aesthetics and mood boards.

And I'll be honest, those things can be fun.  Helpful, even.  And I love looking at everyone's character references and story aesthetics and the playlists...but at the same time, I can't help but think "if I had enough time to do all that myself...think of all the writing I could do with that time."

We have all these helps and aids now, y'all.  But we're still piddling around.

Back in the old days, if you wanted to write, you had to use a typewriter.  You couldn't copy/paste to move things around.  You couldn't even really backspace or fix typos.  If you wanted to change things, you had to take a page out and retype/add a new one.

Imagine what a pain editing was?

Maybe there was some sort of record player to use, or maybe a musical friend would visit and play for you?  But other then that, you had to hum or crack open a window for background or mood-setting music.  And the only character pictures you would get were the ones you either made yourself, begged a friend to draw, or hired an artist.  Forget aesthetics and mood boards altogether.

Back in the old days, you sat your rear at your desk and wrote.  And tossed bad pages in piles all around the room.  And hardly ever opened the windows.  Everything was dark and dusty.  You know the stereotype.

But they still got books written.

And us, with all our extra technology, should be doing the same.

So close out of everything on your computer.  Turn off YouTube, social media, even your music.  Only open that word processor.  Maybe crack open a window or something.

And just WRITE.

I dare you.

How to Set Up Your WIP in Scrivener

I'm not going to make this a "real" series (or maybe I will haha), but there will be a few more posts with some tips and tricks to work with Scrivener.  Just because it really overwhelmed me at first, and I'd like to help folks get comfortable with using it themselves.

If y'all have better ways to do it, let me know!

Yeah, that's my desktop background...

Step One: Create Your Scrivener File

Open up Scrivener.  If you've been playing around with it and saved a file or two, it'll open up with the most recently opened document.  Don't worry, just click File and then New Project.

You'll see this screen pop up:

Pick the Blank option, provide a title for the file, and then choose where it will be saved.

Step Two: Import your WIP

Once you've opened your new Scrivener file, you click File, then Import, then Files.  A new little window will pop up, and you can import your current WIP into Scrivener.

After the document has been imported, it'll look like this:

It'll have the same title as the original WIP document.

Drag and drop the imported WIP file to the Drafts Folder so it looks like this:

You can delete (or move to trash) the "Untitled" file there by right clicking on the file there and selecting the move to trash option.  It just moves it to the trash folder, so I usually go there and actually delete it.

Step Three: Divide Your WIP Into Chapters or Scenes

This part is up to you.  I would at least divide into chapters first, so you have somewhere to start.

Start going through that WIP file, and when you get to the end of a chapter or scene, click right where you want to split the document.  Then click Ctrl+K.  (Or right click with your mouse and select Split at Selection.

Now you have two files there under the Drafts Folder.  The first chapter/scene, and then everything else...

Continue to go through the document until you have everything split up to where you like it.

Then go through and rename the files - either by chapter order, or a simple number, or a quick description.  Nothing too fancy.

I hate this step, but my OCD can't stand it not looking like this.

Step 4 - Simplify

Yeah, there are TONS of features here, but I'm talking about very basic and simple setup here.  Once you're comfortable with the new layout, you can start trying these new features.

First off, change to one window.  The little icons to the right of your screen control how you view your documents.  You are able to view two at a time, but for now, let's just stick with one.

Yeah, those little box icons by the arrows.

Kinda obvious how they split the scene, right?

Second, hide that right sidebar.  That's useful, but only if you have information to put there, and we're not going to worry about that now.  The blue circle containing the "i" hides or shows that sidebar.  So click that "i" and hide the sidebar.

The blue "i" at the top right there...

Now you should just have one document up, with a sidebar on the left containing all the chapters/scenes you've split up.

Yes, I did just whip up a little prologue just so I could show the whole screen and not spoil the first couple paragraphs of the book...

Step 5 - Setup for What's Next

What are you going to do next with your WIP?

Continue drafting?  If you're a plotter, add new files for each planned chapter or scene.  You can do this by clicking on the chapter/scene file above where you want to create a new one.  Then click that green button across the top bar.  Up pops a new file, and you just need to title it.  Continue to do so until you've finished.  Then start writing!

If you're more of a panster, follow the above instructions, but just for one new file.  Start typing away, and just hit Ctrl+K whenever you want to break for a new chapter or scene!

Start editing?  On an upcoming post I'll give some tips and tricks and whatnot for using some of the extra features.  But for now, editing is still easier - you can easily jump around from chapter to chapter or scene to scene!

Worldbuilding?  I'll probably do a post on this too, but I have already done a post on creating characters, and you might find that useful.  :)

I hope you enjoyed this and found it helpful.  Any suggestions?  Things that are better/easier than how I do things?  Scrivener posts you'd like to see in the future?

5 Reasons to Attend Write2Ignite2019!

The Write2Ignite Conference is this month, and I just want to drop a quick reminder to anyone near SC (or willing to travel).  Check it out!!!  It's a smaller conference, but that doesn't mean it's not a good one.  :)

As some of y'all may know, Realm Makers was not my first writing conference, and I'm so glad it worked out this way!  Going to Write2Ignite last year was such a wonderful experience and I'm pretty bummed I can't go this year (due to a race schedule).

And since I can't go...I want to encourage y'all to go instead, because it's definitely worth it!

So why should you go to Write2Ignite?

1 - Less Money

Let's face it - writing conferences can be expensive!  There's travel costs, lodging, food, the conference fee itself, book tables...  But because W2I is smaller, it doesn't cost a lot of money to attend.  AND you still get amazing courses and opportunities!

2 - Less People

Yes, this can be a bonus, especially if you're an introvert.  Smaller conferences are not as crowded, so there's less people to navigate around.  Less people asking you that dreaded "what's your book about" question.  Less people who will grab the attention of the editors, agents, and writers that you want to talk to.  It's a lot easier to approach someone and have a conversation when there isn't a huge line of other people wanting to talk as well.

3 - Relaxed

Yes, the Realm Makers peeps all made me feel welcome, but there was always so much going on, I really couldn't take it all in and enjoy it!  At W2I I was able to calmly stroll the campus between sessions, engage in conversations, and even take a catnap.  If you want to talk and be social the whole time, you can, but you can also take 10 minutes to chill (or to call your parents) if you need it.

4 - Confidence

I'm so glad I went to W2I before heading to RM.  With the skills I'd gleaned from W2I, I was able to face RM with confidence.  I "knew the drill" now.  Check in.  Find out what rooms you'll be in.  Set plans.  That sort of thing.

Admittedly, I panicked when I went to W2I.  I was afraid to talk to people.  I did a bit of wandering around.  But the second day of W2I, I felt more comfortable.  And when I finally went to RM, I knew what to expect and was prepared.

5 - Different

W2I is geared more towards MG and even younger genres (think picture books).  But it is still a Christian writing conference.  You can still make connections.  You can still learn from the classes.  Just because it wasn't especially geared towards "YA speculative fiction" didn't mean that I didn't learn a thing.  It was not a waste of time.  :)

(Hey, and there is a class on writing for YA this year!!)

Not persuaded?  Mosey over to the Write2Ignite website and check out the schedule and speakers and all that fun stuff.  Maybe you'll be interested in giving it a try!

August Wrap-Up

I don't even know where to start.  August was BUSY.

Just...just see for yourselves...

I crossed off "Drive Pepper" from my Yearly To-Do list.  (And found out I could drive on a long gravel drive belonging to a nearby park, so hoping to get out there sometime, too.)

Went to the FCC Church Conference.  Lots of people.  Lots of fun.  Lots of amazing sermons that I would highly recommend.  Especially this one.

Had a friend visit from Canada, and we went to the Ark Encounter together, as it was on her bucket list.  Pretty cool stuff...

Took Canadian friend to the local mountain to see the sunset.

Also went bowling.  Didn't come in last, so that's cool.

Did a last-minute trip to our favorite boating town, and apparently the hotel now has a cat.  In my room. 
Fishing boats.  :)

Went to Fort Macon.

Can't take them anywhere...

Cool fort, though.  We went into one of the damp cellars and sang some Psalms in the echoey darkness... 

Met up with Sarah and her brother for an evening at Carowinds.

My favorite ride.  :)

Riding coasters at night is FUN!!  (And somehow I did this one more than any others...)

And hiked along the Blur Ridge for an afternoon. 
Hiking buddy.

Getting the beasties in shape for the next Ride and Tie!

When you've got two horses to get in shape, but only one person to ride...just take them both and take turns riding!

If you've seen the Duck Video, then you know.  If you haven't, WATCH THE DUCK VIDEO.

Whew!  Hope y'all made it through that.  I'm reaaaaaallly hoping September won't be quite as packed!  

Enjoy your Labor Day - and don't work too hard.  :)