Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Stress-Buster Tools

Have you ever spent hours on some small task then wondered where your day went? With the life of a writer and editor, I’ve had this experience repeatedly. Maybe it’s a computer snag that should take a few minutes and instead it absorbs hours. Possibly you’ve misplaced a significant piece of paper and you spend a lot of time looking for it. Or maybe that business card from an editor has been tucked somewhere and you can’t lay your hands on it now—and now is important because you are ready to call or email or mail to that particular person. Through the years, I’ve had this experience repeatedly in my publishing career.

Today I want to call your attention to three stress-buster tools to help your writing life. I know these tools have been helpful to me.  You may want to mark them so you can return to them often.

An Online File Conversion Service

A continual challenge to my writing life is in the area of file conversion.  Until a few years ago, I was one of the last writers who hung on to WordStar. This word processing program came with one of my first computers—an Osborne.  Yes, I was one of those folks with one of the first lug-able computers. I wrote a great deal of material on this machine. I even preserved some of my computer files and book projects from the old machine. How to convert them? I discovered this online file conversion service. It depends on what you need to convert but the service is instant and quick.

Yesterday I had a book-length manuscript to convert into an Adobe PDF file. I have Adobe Acrobat Professional 6.0 on my computer yet for some reason I could not get my Ms-Word file to convert to the PDF format. It may have been my computer memory or I’m unsure what else. I tried four or five times. Each time the program hung up and didn’t complete the job. I’ve never had this problem in the past with shorter files.  A simple job that should have taken minutes was stretching into several hours. I was frustrated. Then I recalled this online file conversion service. It would take my Ms-Word file and convert it into a PDF in a matter of minutes for $10.90. It was worth every penny from my view. Mission accomplished.

Google Desktop

Have you misplaced a file on your hard drive? I was talking about this issue with literary agent Steve Laube. He recommended down loading Google Desktop.  According to Steve, this program works behind the scenes on your computer to categorize the contents of every single word in every single file on your computer.  He recently had a file that he needed to find and had no idea where to locate it. He typed a unique phrase from the computer into this search tool and instantly the link appeared.  It’s been a continual time saver and stress-buster, according to Steve. Writers should check out Steve’s link page. It’s full of great resources. 


My final stress-buster tool has been BlogJet. As I’ve had ideas for future posts for The Writing Life. I don’t have to be online but I can pull up this tool and use it to write my thoughts.  For most of these posts, I’ve tried to save them on my hard drive, often printing them and reading through them one more time before posting them. And if I make a mistake, I can pull them back off the site, fix the error then repost them—all with simple clicks. If you have any type of blog, look into the free trial for this tool.

The stress for your writing life may come from a different place entirely. I’m constantly learning about new stress-buster tools. They may cost a bit in terms of financial investment but they pay dividends in time-savings and the ability to quickly move from one area into the next. It will keep your writing life on the move.


3 Comment:

At 9:06 AM, Blogger (Jim &) Brandy Brow Left a note...

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At 12:26 PM, Blogger (Jim &) Brandy Brow Left a note...

Stress-buster tools are essential, in my opinion.

I found a free program called pdf 995 that works well for converting files from any program to a pdf. I converted Word and Publisher programs without problems. I liked it so much I paid the minimal fee for the entire suite which is ad free. Find out more about it here: www.pdf995.comBrandy

At 4:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous Left a note...

Terry, what great suggestions for saving time and frustration. I'm all for cutting corners in the stress department. I'll be checking into Blogjet.

Thanks for yet another helpful column. Your blog is providing a lot of practical advice; it's a great extension to right-writing.com.


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