NaNoWriMo 2009

My sole purpose for living (at least for next month anyway) is to crank out 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s right, NaNoWriMo 2009 is about to begin! This is my first time participating in the National Novel Writing Month, and I am quite excited. I’m not sure what to expect, but I know I will enjoy it, even if I don’t manage to make the final goal.

I’ve already registered online and have most of my checklist under control:

  • Access to a computer. It isn’t much of a computer, but it has the basics to get the job done. The way I figure it, the bare-bones-basics are a good way to stay focused.
  • Writing music. Sometimes you just need a good song to keep you going. I also find certain music helps write certain moods, so I’m equipped with a diverse listening package.
  • Prewriting. From character sketches, to outlines, to free-writes. All are considered “legal” as long as not directly used in the final product.
  • Rewards. I need lots of encouragement and have small treats for reaching daily goals (mine is about 2,000 words), medium rewards for weekly achievements, and of course, a party upon completion.
  • A buddy or two.  Friends are important. They provide support, and are available to bounce ideas off of… as well as being around for periodical rants and tantrums.
  • Comfort items. Little things are also important, like a comfy chair, or your favorite snack and/or beverage. It is amazing what the little things can do.  Among my comfy items is a squishy stress ball in the shape of a brain.

I’ll be sure to have periodic updates now and then about my progress and if I have any major learning experiences along the way. Otherwise, don’t expect to hear much from me next month. My words are clearly needed elsewhere. =)

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An Experiment of Bloggy Proportions

This blog entry is quite literally brought to you by Windows Live Writer, a free blog-writing program available for download here.

I discovered Writer while downloading the new Windows Live Messenger and thought I’d give it a try. From what my brief Google-based research dug up, Writer seems to be fairly popular and well-liked. It works with all your main blogging sites: WordPress, Blogger, LiveJournal, etc. I had to see it in action for myself and decided to drag you in on my experiment too… as a witness of sorts. So, put on your safety gear, back up a safe distance, and let’s see what this thing can do…

windowslivewriter2008

First impressions are very important. My first impression of Writer was that it was pretty much the same thing I can get out of the WordPress editor. Both Writer and WordPress can create new posts and pages, can manage multiple blogs, is able to insert links, images, videos, etc., has the standard spell check, and keeps track of word count. By linking Writer to an existing blog account, existing categories and tags are also available. Both are able to view posts in an edit mode, a preview mode, and an html mode. The blogger is also able to set the publish date in both. Writer even had my WordPress theme available in the editor. The similarities in standard features are overwhelming. Yet, upon closer inspection, Writer did start to prove itself as being above merely standard.

Are you still wearing that safety gear? Because it is time to tinker…

Clicking Some Buttons

OOOO! Wasn’t that header rather neat and mildly unexpected? What about this? Writer does allow the blogger more customization opportunities. It has several headings to choose from, all the standard FONTS, colors, and downloadable plug-ins which allow the blogger to insert other objects, like maps. Writer combines the WordPress editor with MS Word-like features, making the blog writing process a little more involved.

Even something as simple as adding images becomes a bit more complicated due to all the customization options. Images can have added borders of varying degree of thickness and shading. They can be converted into black and white, or even sepia. The blogger has full control over blur, contrast, and sharpness, and can crop, rotate, emboss, or even watermark the images. These features, when combined, allow you to take a simple image:

Ducky and create…

Ducky Ducky Ducky Ducky Ducky Ducky

A Work of Blog-Art

All of these added options make creating a blog post or page more like creating a work of art. Consequently, this can make blogging more time consuming, and let’s face it… everyone’s time is precious. Writer compensates for this by offering a feature that allows you to save a draft of your page or post directly onto your computer (in addition to saving it to the online blog account). This allows bloggers to write and come back to it later, even when there is no internet available. Saving drafts and published versions has the added advantage of being able to easily print or keep an offline archive of the blog. Writer’s installation automatically creates “My Weblog Posts” under My Documents where drafts, pages, posts, etc. are all neatly stored for easy access.

WordPress has the advantage of being completely online, making it accessible from anywhere around the world, but the fact Writer works offline gives it a lot of advantages as well. My conclusion is that these two programs work beautifully together. For short, quick, to-the-point posts, the WordPress editor works fine and offers all the essentials to get the job done. For those who have the time, Writer gives bloggers the opportunity to express themselves in new and creative ways.

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