‘Momma Word’ Isn’t Always Right

I’mmother-rocking-baby no Luddite*, but I always try to understand the limitations of the technology I’m working with.

I love word processing software. It is so
helpful. It automatically cleans up my typos. It formats pages for me. It can even give me an outline to organize my material.

The problem is when it becomes too helpful and wants to do it all for me. Luckily I have the training to know when I’ve written a complete sentence Word is convinced is a fragment.  I’m capable of correct, off-the-wall spellings Word is compelled to change to a completely different word.

Honestly, if I see defiantly when definitely is the word the writer means, I’m going to swing my keyboard at somebody’s head!

No, I don’t always want a preformatted space after a paragraph.

And don’t get me started on bullets! I’ve spent far too much time fighting Word’s pre-formatted style. It isn’t what I want, but I’ve got to settle in order to get it done.

It’s like Word is telling me, “Honey, I know what’s best for your writing. You just sit right back and let Momma Word take care of it for you.”

It makes me feel like I’m a teenager struggling against the restriction of what adults “know best.”

The good thing for me is that I am experienced and practiced enough to recognize when I’m right and Word is wrong. I can find ways around it.

What worries me are all those people out there who don’t have the experience or skill to recognize there’s a problem. They let Momma Word take care of it and ignorantly go about their writing clueless to the mistakes they’re making. I think that’s why I’m so worried about artificial intelligence.

For the sake of good writing, go out, buy yourself a dictionary, and use it! Invest in a good grammar and style manual. Use them!

Don’t let Momma Word take your voice away.

* Someone who is resistant to change, especially technological change. 

So, You Don’t Know InDesign…

Which is more important: knowing a specific software or being familiar with the basics of how it functions?

Most of us realize there is no way we can keep up with all the different versions of the different types of software out there. Even if we could do it physically, we couldn’t fbrain softwareiscally. Who has that type of budget, especially if you’re a freelancer?

If you don’t know InDesign or Publisher, but you do know QuarkXPress, couldn’t you easily learn the other publishing software? If you can use Articulate Storyline, couldn’t you adapt to Adobe Captivate?

Everyone has her preference, but the basic principles are the same.

I think this is very much like comparing knowledge with learning. When you have knowledge, you have a repository of information. When you learn, you can take that information and apply it someplace else appropriately and efficiently.

Even when you know a particular software very well, chances are the next version is going to change something. Just look at the venerable Word. With each version, you have to learn new tricks or hunt for functions that used to be right at your fingertips.

I know people who stubbornly cling to old versions of software. I can so empathize. There are days I still pine for Windows XP. Unfortunately, the marketplace often demands constant updates to keep our work compatible with that of our clients.

The good news is that understanding the underlying fundamentals of a software can help you more quickly learn the quirks specific to another software (or version).

Exercising those “little grey cells” is the best way to keep up with the software “Joneses.”

 

Software, Software Everywhere…

Software choices

I need some help. (Okay! Enough with the snide comments!)

I have almost exclusively used trusty Microsoft Word for my writing. Now, I’m working on a project that will require some length and collaboration. I’m using Word and OneNote in combination. It seems to be working out fine. I can even organize via the outline function in Word.

However, being the “lazy” sort of writer I am, I’m open to using software that could make my life easier (one that’s not too expensive).

Some I have heard about are Scrivener, WriteItNow, WriteWay Pro, Evernote, and yWriter.

Keep in mind that that any software should be easy to learn and compatible with Microsoft products.

So, all you sage, experienced writers, I seek higher knowledge on the best software fit. Drop some pearls of writing wisdom on me!