Sunday, April 8, 2018

Computer Tips and Tricks for the Tech-Challenged Writer


Our guest this week is computer-savvy author Linda Widrick.  We have asked her to share some of her computer tips with our readers. Be sure to check out her debut novel, Through a Shattered Image.


By Linda Widrick

You’re writing a best seller.  Your characters are driven, your adrenaline is flowing, and your plot twists and turns in ways you hadn’t expected. Yet you struggle when your lack of computer savvy hinders the speed with which you can brain dump into your masterpiece.
     
Here’s a brief look at a couple of computer tips I think you’ll find helpful.



Your New BFF – the CRTL Key
The CTRL (control) key typically sits on the far left of a PC keyboard. It changes the function of another key when both keys are pressed simultaneously. The shortcut list provided isn’t exhaustive, but let’s take a look at a couple of CTRL pairings to get you off to a good start. 

When your cursor is inside a Word document, pressing CTRL+N at the same time generates a NEW, blank document.  This is helpful when you want to move from your current document to a new one, such as when copying discard clips to a new outtake document.  The alternative (selecting the Start Menu>Microsoft Office>Microsoft Word) takes longer, while the simple CTRL+N saves time.  This applies to other Microsoft applications as well.

Pressing CTRL+N when your cursor rests inside your folder tree generates a NEW, identical window. This is helpful when switching between multiple folders.  

Most people are familiar with the copy/paste duo, CTRL+C and CTRL+V.  This pair is critical when creating subfolders in your folder tree. My current novel project, Cup Half Full, is a subfolder within my Writing folder. To create a subfolder inside my titled folder, I right-click the white space, then select New>Folder.   Then, I single left-click on the New Folder that I just created and press CTRL+C.  Back inside the white space, I press CTRL+V multiple times to create multiple empty folders that can then be renamed to better organize my project.  In seconds, I can rename these new folders with titles such as Research, Characters, Images, and Manuscript.  Organizing folder trees are an essential part of the writer’s life. 
  
Take Advantage of Auto Correct Keys
My current work in progress is set in Nicaragua. Unfortunately, I spell Nicaragua differently every time I type it. Rather than simply using Auto Correct, have you tried Auto Correct Options?  Right-click the misspelled, underlined word. Choose>Auto Correct>Auto Correct Options in the drop-down menu. In the center of the popup window, type Nic in the “Replace” box and Nicaragua in the “With” box.  Click “Add”, then “OK”.  Voila!  Each time you now type Nic, the word Nicaragua automatically appears. I use this feature for common words that I misspell frequently. 
            
Use Dual Monitors
You are using dual monitors, right?  If not, stop for a moment and research what you’ll need to purchase in order to set yourself up with two monitors.  You can see what graphics card is installed on your PC by going to the Device Manager, then clicking Display Adapters.  Take note of the information and provide it to your tech person (or your 2nd Grader).  Snap a photo of the back of your computer tower if you have to. Places like Best Buy or Staples can lead you to the right adapter if you need one.  I purchased an adapter for less than thirty dollars.

When working on dual monitors, I’m a stickler for continuity.  My manuscript doc is always on my right, and my discard doc, research materials, etc., remain on my left monitor.  I’m currently using a wallpaper image on my monitors that’s consistent with the setting of my novel. It keeps my head in that fictional place while the words continue to flow.
   
While this is only a taste of computer tips that are available, one thing is certain - there’s no need to fear technology. Understanding how to use computer shortcuts and tricks can streamline your writing process so you can more efficiently do what you love to do—write. 

Do you have any additional tips you would like to share. We would love to hear from you.

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles.)

TWEETABLE


Fiction writer, Linda Widrick, desires to be a beacon of light in a dark world, sharing God’s love and grace through her writing. A dreamer at heart, she pulls her inspiration for stories from snippets of everyday life. She and her husband, Keith, live on Florida’s west coast, but enjoy spending time on their farmland in upstate New York, the setting for much of her debut novel, Through a Shattered Image, (Prism Book Group, 2017).  Linda’s novella, To Complicate Matters, is tentatively scheduled for publication in 2019.  Linda is a member of ACFW and Word Weavers International. You might see her at a writer’s conference with a latt√© in one hand, and a bullet journal in another.  Please stop and say hello, or visit Linda at www.LindaWidrick.com, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.



2 comments:

  1. Nice, but--as is clearly stated--the article is written for those who use the PC. I, and many of my colleagues, use a Mac. How many of these work for Mac? Do we substitute the "command" key for the "control?"

    ReplyDelete
  2. Richard -

    Yes, for Mac users, the Command key is typically used in lieu of CTRL. You can read more about it at https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201236.

    Thanks for your note!
    Linda



    ReplyDelete

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