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Writing and Publishing

Introduction to WordPress

introduction to wordpress

WordPress has two versions: hosted and self-hosted. Serious writers recommend self-hosting. But beginners can opt for the hosted version. Here is a basic introduction to WordPress:

The hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.com) is easy to learn and use. It also has minimal features. The self-hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.org) is highly flexible and rich in features. It has a steeper learning curve.

Like most people, I recommend that anyone serious about blogging use the self-hosted version, WordPress.org, and bypass the hosted version of WordPress, WordPress.com.

However, for a person not sure about blogging and interested in just trying it out, WordPress.com can accomplish that nicely and with minimal fuss and cost.

Moving content from WordPress.com to WordPress.org is not hard—for someone who has done it before. It does take a bit of effort, but transferring posts is mostly following a set of instructions. There are a lot of instructions online and this guide looks good.

However you proceed, I wish you the best. Happy blogging!

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Writing and Publishing

Microsoft Word Alternatives

microsoft word alternatives

Writers often seek options for word processing software, either to save money, increase functionality, or both.

Many writers extol the virtues of Scrivener for content creation, especially novelists. It costs much less than Microsoft Word and, since Scrivener is designed for writers, it has powerful features that creatives crave.

Another option of increasing popularity is Google Docs. It’s free. And your files are online, so you can access them from any internet-connected computer.

Nonetheless, whatever alternative tool you use for writing, be sure it can output in Microsoft Word format (Scrivener can) because almost all publishers require a Word file submission. In addition, all editors I’ve worked within the past twenty years have used Word (except for one who edited a printout).

However, instead of buying Microsoft Word (or Microsoft Office) for hundreds of dollars, get Office 365 and pay a low monthly subscription fee—less than a coffee or two a month. As a bonus, you’ll always have the latest version.

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Writing and Publishing

Find Time to Read

find time to read

Writers need to read, but how do we find time to read? This is a constant struggle. For me, it often comes down to deciding between watching TV and reading. Sometimes TV wins and other times reading wins. Often this hinges on how good the book is and how badly I want to watch a particular show.

To find time to read, I strive to keep my TV watch list short and my book list interesting. I also give myself the freedom to stop reading a book that I don’t like or that bores me. If I didn’t do that, the TV would always win.

The point is, we all have some degree of discretionary time, be it TV, movies, going out, leisure activities, or even a nap. We can choose to do those or to read. For me, I’ve cut back on TV to read more—and I’m glad I did.

However, some writers, including me, feel that watching TV and especially movies help them learn about plot, character development, and good (or bad) storytelling.

The bottom line is that if we’re serious about writing and want to become a better writer, we need to also read. We need to find time to read. When we do so, we will better inform our writing.

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Writing and Publishing

Seven Writer Improvement Tips

writer improvement tips

Do you want to improve as a writer? I do. Here are the things I’m currently pursuing to get better:

  1. Read a lot (I struggle the most with this one)
  2. Write regularly
  3. Read about writing
  4. Listen to writer and publishing podcasts
  5. Follow blogs relating to writing
  6. Participate in writers’ groups
  7. Attend writing conferences

Although improvement only creeps forward, these steps move me in the right direction. May they do the same for you.

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Writing and Publishing

Lessons Learned the Hard Way

technology plan

Here are the lessons learned from a computer fiasco I had, years ago:

  • Have a technology plan, but be flexible. [I had a plan but wasn’t flexible with it—until I was forced to. I doggedly stuck to the plan, even when it was inadvisable to do so]
  • Multiple data backups were imperative. I used three methods, and keep several historical versions, spanning six months.
  • Having backup hardware is essential. During this ordeal, I was using both my backup desktop computer and my laptop to handle critical items and not fall too far behind.
  • Having a help desk to call for emergencies is critical.
  • If a computer begins displaying flaky problems, it’s likely telling you something—make sure you are listening.