A small sum of words about always online

I read a lot, but I often forget to “log” it on sites like Goodreads or other social media. I wonder if that means I’m not actually reading a lot since I don’t have some sort of public-facing proof of my accomplishments.

I think back to my earlier days on the internet and the sheer joy at “winning” or “earning” a small gif that would live near my avatar, under my username, somehow highlighting me as an elite, chosen one, or able to afford $5/month. We have giffed1 life, I think. Making all accomplishments meaningless unless accompanied by a publically acceptable emoji.

If feel like we’ve surpassed the dystopian vision of Black Mirror‘s “Nosedive” episode and the trends of “cottage-core,” “slow-living,” and “quiet-whatever” are an aesthetic response to hustle culture and digital achievement. Influencing a slow life is still hustling, but at least we can tell ourselves that it’s a lifestyle we can achieve, if only we didn’t have to pay rent.

I prattle on in an attempt to not work more on my revisions to Art History because I am enjoying it and have an appointment in an hour. If I work up until I have to stop, then I’ll be annoyed and I want Seb and Derek, and Woodlawn College as a whole, to be my happy place.

In the meantime I’ll see if I can finish reading something to get that achievement online. Ding!

*swish* (⊃。•́‿•̀。)⊃━⭑・゚゚・*:༅。.。༅:*゚:*:✼✿

  1. You can pronounce that any way you please. I do not care. ↩︎

The new setup up, same as the old setup

In which I fall out of love with Ulysses, rebound a bit with iA Writer, and finally just go back to Google Docs.

What is it about spring cleaning your “systems” that feels like work, but is really procrastination? 

It’s the feel of my fingers flying across the keys, typing out what I’m doing instead of what my characters are doing somewhere else.

I’m not nearly as interesting as they are, but still, here I am.

I have been wanting to keep my files as close to plain text as possible. Being able to access, export, import, and move simple text files somehow makes me more secure in saving them in, say, Google Drive or Dropbox. 

I’m pretty sure this desire comes from a place of fear as if being able to control the format in which I write will somehow allow me to control the writing. Writers don’t talk enough about losing control during the writing. We call it “flow” or the “zone,” but it’s scary. I digress…

I’ve been testing out a few different applications and am working on a trial with iA Writer. I have to say, I’m intrigued.

The interface is pretty bare-bones, but I’m not looking for a publishing app (I have one of those). I’m looking for relatively distraction-free writing. I want a visible word count as I go and the ability to take my laptop offline.

I know I can do all these things with Google Docs or Office 365, but mostly I want a simple text editor that recognizes Markdown.

Future Betty here: I’m editing this in Google Docs because I am fickle and I recognize a diversion when I construct one. This is a blog post because there are a lot of already generated words that I can use, but also because I see you, writer, who is interested in writing apps.

I often wonder why we can be so particular about the software we use. We have a near-infinite ability to adapt and adjust, yet, here I am, squirming around trying to find something that is almost Notepad, but not Notepad+. Perhaps I am still yearning for the old Word Perfect days.

FB: I am, in fact, not yearning for those days. I am currently sitting in a beautiful library writing this on my laptop, in a cozy chair. These days are better.

I’m rambling and I’m only hitting 250 words. What on earth am I talking about?

I can write in Markdown and preview its output on the right-hand side of the screen. That’s nice, but I wonder why I have to hit Return twice to get a proper paragraph break. Will I have to remove a bunch of extra returns later on? That’s odd.

I can preview hidden characters and while there is still a single return, the paragraphs wrap together. Not just stacked on top of each other, but wrapped together as one paragraph. I don’t think that’s a Markdown thing. 

A lot of these apps have some sort of “typewriter” feature, whether it’s part of the focus or the way the page scrolls. It’s fine, but as someone who spent time with actual typewriters, I have little nostalgia for them. I will turn this feature off.

What happened to underlining things? Is it because hypertext links are natively underlined? 

I exported this document into Word and the “double” returns render as single returns. The space is there, but fixable by removing space before and after paragraphs in the line height selector. That’s good. Double return for readability and minimal formatting adjustments later. I can live with that.

FB: I could not live with that.

I think iA Writer could be a good fit for me. I particularly like that they have Mac and Windows options. Though, I think for a while I’ll just keep this trial on the home computer.

I’m not completely sold yet–and that has more to do with my quirks than the software–but I’ll let you know if I pick up iA Writer or stick with Notepad as my writing workhorse.

I never really used iA Writer again after that, nor did I stick with Ulysses. Both of these are fine apps and have their advantages, but, I was kidding myself that the plain-text file was what I wanted.

What I wanted was to feel like I was writing, without writing. I see what I did there. I ended up switching back to the old stand-by so I didn’t have to think about it anymore. It’s easy to export a plain-text version as a backup. 

Stop fiddling about and get writing. You too!

*swish* (⊃。•́‿•̀。)⊃━⭑・゚゚・*:༅。.。༅:*゚:*:✼✿

It’s OK to be anti-social

I’ve run across a few articles that permit writers to not tackle social media, well, at all really, and it’s given me a bit of breathing room. For years, all the advice was about building an audience and having a mailing list, and while I think we can all agree that those things can help you become financially successful as an author, I’m not sure how much help they can be for the actual writing.

A writing community, one that offers encouragement and support, is really useful, even for an introvert like myself. I have a few writer friends who I share pain and problems with, particularly the problem of getting started. We all seem to have great advice for each other, but then never seem to get around to taking it ourselves.

However, the draw of finding or creating an online community through social media has always felt daunting. In my real life, I started on Twitter while I was still heavily involved in the tech world and was able to build a bit of a community around that area. But, over the years, as my job and focus changed, I found it challenging to start over (with my pen name) and build a similar group of like-minded people. Starting from nothing was a lot of work (adding a second pen name into the mix and I was overwhelmed).

Won’t someone like me?

I also tried engaging in conversations, but found crickets most time, even when I felt like my take was, if not hot then at least kind of warm. This isn’t sour grapes, but more of a lack of desire to always be online. The persistent performance was unattractive to me, and, most importantly, the lack of interaction left me unmotivated to write.

If I couldn’t get followers on Instagram, who would ever read my stories?

I even entered February intending to post on Instagram every single day to see if being consistent would help me increase engagement. When I missed yesterday, I was disappointed. It ruined my morning when I realized my mistake.

But why? I hadn’t announced it. No one was looking for my posts. The only promise I broke was one to myself and one made without much seriousness, to be honest. I know me better than anyone else.

Rejecting rejection

So this morning I came to my task list, the one that breaks my projects down into bite-sized pieces and makes it appear manageable. I highlighted “29 days of social media” and hit DELETE. Buh-Bye.

I immediately started writing this blog post. Not because I needed to vent frustration, but because that simple click released any negative feelings I had about the trial and failure of it all. I am writing this to give you permission to just write.

Write a 500-word blog post and quickly, shortly, with little time investment, promote that instead. The blog post will be much more useful to you than a social media post done for marketing purposes. The blog post can help you tell yourself more about who you are as a writer.

And, more importantly, will help others give themselves permission to just write. 

*swish* (⊃。•́‿•̀。)⊃━⭑・゚゚・*:༅。.。༅:*゚:*:✼✿

Image by 29458918 from Pixabay