Monday, March 26, 2012

How Do I Do It? Volume!

Operation Hat Trick is moving ahead. I haven't been multi-tasking as much as I thought I might, but I've been making good progress on 'Dragon's Tail'.

I've been experimenting, as I mentioned, with ways to be more productive, and I've hit on an approach that's been helpful, and that's also been forcing me to adhere to my attempts to accept imperfection.

As people who follow me on Twitter know, I do a lot of my writing with a program called Write Or Die. It's a simple program (or web application -- you can use it for free online as well) that more or less forces you to write -- you enter an amount of time and wordcount goal and start typing in a simple word processor. Based on your goals, Write Or Die will start punishing you for not meeting them, through a variety of means ranging from changing the screen to blood-red and making angry sounds to (at the more punitive settings) actually starting to delete what you've already written if you leave the screen idle too long. It's terrifying and  I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Another function it has is the option to disable the backspace key. I'd been curious about that function for a while, but hadn't used it. But in thinking about increasing my productivity, I found myself wondering how much time I was really losing going back and fixing typos. I deciced to find out.

The answer: I was losing a LOT of time to fixing typos. When I started disabling the backspace, I found my word count totals nearly doubling over comparable amounts of time. Stopping myself worrying about those typos, or about any kind of wordsmithing, let me put that time back into getting the words down.

Which is great, but obviously raises a new question - is it worth it? Is the typo-ful, unwordsmithed copy I get so messy that any time saving is a wash because of the extra clean-up required?

Well, see for yourself. Here's a sample of my un-edited, just-as-it-appeared-on-the-screen, no-fixes prose. I didn't do this in Write Or Die, but I did stop myself from editing it as a wrote, so the result is pretty much the same.


This sis am aexample of me trying to type the words tt that I'm thinking of very quickly. Sometimes it goes fine and sometimes I make typos and sometimes I change my mind about what I was going to say, but i can't go back and change it. For sometone like lyme, who's neurotic about typos and really, really proud of my ability fo spell and use correct grammar, this is a bit isconcerting, but i find that overall,t he flow works, that I get what I teintended down on the screen. And anfter all, i was going to edit it later anyway, right? So ma what doe a vfew more typos matter? The point is to get the owords down.


So yeah. You can see why my word count is approximate: There's not only a lot of redundancy to be edited down, there are typos that read as words, throwing off the count.

Overall, though, it seems to work. It's messy, but it's readable. I know what I meant, at least enough that I can clean it up later. The point, after all, is to get the owords down, so ma what doe a vfew more typos matter?

But I am left wondering what it means that, when I'm pressed for time, I can spell 'neurotic', but not 'the'.

1 comment:

Patrick Heinicke said...

Just remember that the standard keyboard was designed to slow down typists who were jamming the keys by typing too fast. I think it is totally worth it. The correct spelling of words will be around a lot longer than your emerging ideas. Get'em down while they are fresh and edit later.