When computer skills were being handed out I must have been round the back of the bike sheds having a fag. You see, the skill that I ended up with was being particularly good at using Microsoft Word. I know, right? Sheesh. I could have got the coding gift (like the awesome Amanda from Girls Guide to Web Design) or mad Photoshop skillz, but no. I got MS Word skills.
But actually, you know what, it hasn’t served me all that badly. After all, in my past corporate office life (signs of a misspent youth if ever I heard it) it was really useful being the only one who properly knew how to do a mail merge. I know, Mail Merge. I did it! It can be mastered. Seriously, I use MS Word like a boss. (In fact, thanks to my mad Office skills I was quite often the boss.)
And even now I need to use my word processing skills all the time. Recently I used it for the writing and formatting on my Crochet Catwoman Mask Pattern, in the past I used it to write and edit my novel and craft book. Being able to use this programme and knowing tips and tricks to make it behave can save you loads of time and ill-temper. Of course, there are loads of great free alternatives out there like zoho docs, google docs and OpenOffice. I’ve used them all. But currently I need to use Word for some freelance writing consulting work that I’m doing and it’s the one we most often encounter in offices.
So, why am I telling you all this? Well, two reasons actually. First up, I love to share the knowledge – sharing is caring baby! That’s why I’m going to be releasing tidbits of info on the blog all about how to use Word for writing and creating documents, better, smarter and faster. Then when I get a bit more time next year I’m going to develop it into a course to help all you creatives with your formatting and document creation. Whether you need to format a document for a funding application, a pattern you’ve written, a novel manuscript or just for your corporate office job which helps you pay the rent while you work out how to make your creative life pay. (Psst! On that subject I’d like to recommend an awesome book I’m reading at the moment called “Screw Work Let’s Play” by John Williams.)
The second reason I’m telling you this is that this week I uploaded my novel, My Lovers and Other Animals, onto authonomy.com the HarperCollins writing community. What this means is that for a limited time only you can read my entire novel for free online! I know. Scary Stuff. (For me, not you. My novel’s not scary or anything like that. It is a bit of a bonkbuster though.) I’ll be doing a post on that whole subject in the near future, but basically I had to edit my entire 73,500 word manuscript into a screen friendly format and then separate out all my 53 chapters into separate documents to upload them. Were it not for my crazy mad Word skillz it would have taken me much longer than the day it actually took me.
So watch out for future posts (or sign-up to my mailing list or subscribe to my RSS feed) on how to become the boss of Word rather than it being the boss of you. You know all those annoying tics it has such as the extra blank page that won’t delete whatever you do or the crazy page numbering system that doesn’t count consecutively, all that kind of stuff that you can easily lose a day faffing around with. I’ll show you how to beat those. Plus, if you have a particular word tic that you’d like me to show you how to deal with then just leave me a comment on the blog and I’ll get right on it.
I’ll be doing a post really soon on how I got my novel authonomy ready for those of you who have your own novel hiding out on your hard-drive. Put it up there to keep mine company! Doesn’t matter if it’s not complete, if it’s longer than 10,000 then throw it up there! And if you like my novel then consider signing up to the community and rating it, or leaving me a comment on my tricky chapter one / prologue / scrap that chapter all together conundrum. You will then be helping me to get my novel onto the HarperCollins editors desk. And I will love you forever.
Now go, read, play, and create pretty documents.