A Thought: Life Hacks For Writers

I really despise the term “life hacks,” but it’s what people know right now, so I guess I’ll use it. I don’t know about you, but I associate the word “hack” with images of chronic phlegm sufferers, axe murderers, or computer geniuses sending out viruses, although that could just be my imagination running amok. (You may feel differently. I can’t know that, though. I’m not you.)

Perhaps the word “advice” is more appropriate, but I’ll stick with current nomenclature and call this a “life hack” (eww) for writers.

I first introduced this idea to someone looking for a suggestion on how to keep up with projects or ideas they wanted to revisit in their old journals. The idea was simple, really, which is the point of a “life hack,” (bleh) I suppose.

I should preface this “life hack” (ugh) by saying that I am a proud card-carrying member of the “I Handwrite My First Drafts and/or Ideas in a Real-Life Journal” club. We have no cards, though, so that “card-carrying” bit was a lie. Sorry.

Anyway, back to the “life hack” (meh).

If I have a topic, incomplete story, or even just one line in one of my many journals that I want to flesh out or revise later, I mark it with a paper clip. I like to use colored paper clips because they stand out a bit more.

touring on a shoestring post its GIF by Soundfly
Wait…no. Paper clips. They’re much more durable. And they send a clearer message. I think.

Then, when I’m ready to work, I simply open the journal and sort through the clips. Some ideas may not be worth my time, but some need my attention.

As I transfer and complete a draft or project from the journal to the computer, I remove the paper clip. You can begin to see progress as the paper clips dwindle and that particular journal becomes less bulky.

You also have the added bonus of more paper clips to use again for all of your paper clipping needs. Real paper clips. On real paper. Where I prefer to write first ideas and drafts.

Oh, hey. Of course I remember you. You used to watch me write term papers. Very closely, if I recall. Where have you been? Your brothers and sisters have been holding my ideas together for me in a leather-bound journal for a while now. I’m just going to finish talking about this “life hack” (sigh) now, so run along. Nice seeing you…I think…

Because my journals tend to be very scatterbrained (which could possibly be attributed to the user), I will clip the exact spot on the page where the idea sprang forth. That way, I don’t necessarily have to read the entire page to try to remember which idea I wanted to revisit.

I don’t know if this is an approach others have tried, but it seems to work for me (when I actually make myself do it). It frees up some of my time for eating, sleeping, and other similar hobbies.

sleep sleeping GIF
Best hobby ever.

Give it a try! Let me know what you think! And if you don’t need the paper clips after you’ve finished sifting through your journals, send photos of the stylish necklaces and bracelets you can create with them.

A Technological Throwback: Typewriter Time

Back in the fall, I ordered a copy of the Tom Hanks book Uncommon Type: Some Stories. The book is a collection of short stories that all have a common thread…each one features a typewriter in some form or fashion.

I’ve always liked typewriters, even if I was a little frightened of some of their mechanics when I was a kid. (I think I was afraid that if I put my fingers near the ribbon, someone would accidentally hit a key and leave a permanent letter on my hand. That probably helps to explain why I’ve never gotten a tattoo.) At my high school, the typing classroom was filled with electric typewriters. I can still hear the clicking…

I usually end up with some kind of new gadget each summer. This summer, my “new” technological acquisition is a manual Remington typewriter.

It’s just my type.

This is a Remington Quiet-Riter with a case. A very HEAVY case, I might add. I suppose you could call it an analog laptop.

Now, for all you kids out there, a typewriter is a machine that you use to type words directly on a sheet of paper. If you make a mistake–depending on the model–you are stuck with it. Autocorrect has no say in whatever crazy mistake you–yes, you–make.

phone fails GIF
…and you can’t blame autocorrect. It’s all on you.

So, if you’re going to use one of these things, you might want to do a thorough review of your and you’re and which word is applicable at the appropriate time.

With that being said, it’s amazing how much I had to re-learn in order to use a manual typewriter. For starters, I thought my typing skills were pretty good. And they are…as long as I have a backspace button. (I’m the fastest draw around on that backspace button, but it does little good when you’ll just be typing gibberish since you can’t erase what you’ve already butchered. Correction fluid is your friend.) Also, the apostrophe was not where I expected it to be, and I’ve discovered that I have to type much slower. If I don’t, the keys have a tendency to get a little tongue-tied.

Will it replace my computer? Not in this day and age, but I am using it to try my hand at creating unique greeting cards.┬áIf I use it for too long, though, I might re-develop some old habits that would need to be corrected when I return to the computer…

typewriter GIF
DING!

I’m sure I’ll be using the typewriter sparingly, but it does show me just how far we’ve progressed technologically in a relatively short period of time. And, much like the stories in the Tom Hanks book, it brings back images of a simpler time where we were much more connected…despite our current level of perceived connectivity.