Thursday, February 27, 2014

Freedom

"Writing a book is 10% inspiration and 90% not being distracted by the internet.” George Dyson

Facebook. Twitter. Buzzfeed. Instragram. Pinterest. Goodreads. And so many more. I mean just the internet in general. These potential distractions all make it easier than ever to avoid writing. We get sucked into this world of cuddly puppy photos, recipes, and political rants not to mention cat videos and e-postcards created by friends and relatives. What's a writer to do?

Lately I've been using Freedom, an inexpensive program, to minimize distractions (aka the internet). You tell the program how long you want "freedom" from the internet and it blocks you for that amount of time. To regain access before the time has expired you have to restart your computer. You can use the trial version five times before you must switch to a paid version. There's also Anti-social which only blocks social media. That way, you can do research, but not check Twitter. Freedom and Anti-social are not magic bullets.

I still find myself trying to click to Facebook before I realize what I'm doing. But once I remember my "freedom," I get back to work. Maybe these will work for you!

Monday, February 03, 2014

Poor Grammar? No Problem!


“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.” ― Dorothy Parker, The Collected Dorothy Parker

Last month I received yet another note from a reader who dreams of writing a book. Like many others, he fears his poor grammar will prevent him from succeeding. His note to me read:

I've wanted to write a book for as long as I can remember. I'm a voracious reader and I love to write. But I've struggled with grammar and punctuation since grade school. Do you have any suggestions on how to master grammar now that I'm an adult?
Many of my readers have similar qualms. Here was my reply:

If you want to write a book, just write a book. Don't let any of your fears get in the way. In WILD MIND, Natalie Goldberg suggests, "Don't worry about grammar, punctuation, or even the lines on the page." She's talking about first drafts, but she's serious. Later, after many drafts of the work are finished, hire a copyeditor to polish it for you.
As far as learning grammar and punctuation, there are many great books including EATS, SHOOTS AND LEAVES by Lynne Truss. I also follow a blog called Grammar Girl that may help. I subscribe and follow her on Facebook. I attempt to master each tip she posts. I discover my errors by reading about them and finding the solution.
Here's a list of 10 good grammar sites including Grammar Girl. Purdue Online Writing Lab and Grammarly are both very good as well. Enjoy and have fun!
Do you have any great sources for finding grammar information? I'd love to hear about them.