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Writing Tools

Reflections on Some Technical Aspects of my Blog Writing Process

Suddenly my writings come to a halt. It becomes quite difficult to produce a written piece as naturally as I keep up with the RSS information overload and my mind processing it.
I have solved the issue of information access. Not the RSS reading management yet. (I mean this). However, I can handle it. I can read, process, react, reflect. All smooth. But then, there comes the choice of tool I need to process my writing with . Not just process in a polished form to upload to blogger, but a tool that can match the way I work, the way ideas to write come to my mind and take shape. That is when all the seamless integration of read-reflect-write and post is lost for me.

Writing processor options
In my search for the ideal tool to draft my posts, I have tried all of these:

1-Microsoft word
2-Blogger edit mode
3-Google docs
4-Flock browser

Last but not least...
5- And now I am drafting this post in Google Notebook. I think that if this not ideal, at least it serves the overall purpose. Far from perfect, though. I wish I could do more!

My new writing needs
Let's say that I used to write college papers and activities with rubrics for my students. All instances of a somewhat formal writing or, at least, structured formats. No one word sentences, no dangling participles, etc. Word for Windows had always been my tool.

Now I'm blogging and a new writing experience has emerged. I am neither as formal as in my university papers nor as informal as when I email friends in English. This is a blend where I choose everytime which side of the scale will be heavier depending on content, purpose and originally intended reader or audience.

Blogging is a tool to unearth deep thoughts. When I read and my mind gets ticking, I'd better write it out or risk the loss of an idea. Capturing the moment when something made me reflect and not just the reflection is probably the blood that will inspire others to read and get blogging/conversing on. So I would like to write in an impressionistic way -so to speak- capturing that unique light that changes the wheat fields into a one-time view only.

I think that way of writing makes sense in a blog format with day and time as frames for your thoughts.

Needless to say, I write this for pleasure and I expect to enjoy the process. Different writing tools may contribute to or simply ruin my pleasure.

Let me analyse each of my available options in the light of my new needs:
1. Microsoft word.
Advantages:
-Lot's you can do there. You can post directly to blogger (with the help of an add-on).
Disadvantages:
-Too much you can do there.
I do not need the full functionality of the system. Most importantly, it is an indoors document that I cannot access automatically from any browser, anywhere. I must remember -and have time- to put it my pendrive. I change working places during the day, so access is paramount to me.
-It is an application outside your browser. Slows down the machine (depending on what's open in your browser. In mine, usually no less than five tabs). Too many clicks to go from something I am reading to a page to write. Back to consult, back to the page. Frozen windows. Aghrrr.

2. Blogger edit mode
Pros: Whatever you do is already there where you will finally need it.
Cons: By the time I sign in, click on the desired blog (I have more than one -mind you) and create a new post, the original thought I had has made two thousand twists in my head and I get this uncomfortable feeling what I am actually writing is a shadow of a post I meant. Sort of second best.
Blogger edit mode is definetely the last step for me.

3- Google docs
These are great. Not for my posts, though. They do not have the full functionality of the Office Suite, but who needs all that all the time. They allow for quick copy as a pdf or html, share, print, email, publish as webpage, post to blog.
Main advantage are
-anywhere access
-you do not need to leave your browser to work.
Still I find them slow. If only I could write inside the page I am seeing and reflecting upon! I think this need arises as a consequence of using wikis.

4- Flock browser
Flock could be the solution for quick posts that you do not need to save and review later. My reality is that I start working on something one day, then I want to read a bit more on the subject. Next, get pieces of notes together in a post. And I use Firefox. So, nope.

5- Google Notebook
And the winner is Google Notebook. Because it is possible to access anywhere to all your stored notes. There is an add-on for your Firefox that allows you to open a tiny window to work on. Easy to browse your various notes. It automatically creates a link to the page you are on.

And it is just that: notes. Then you drag and drop in the order you would present them and finish them up in blogger edit mode. Press publish. You're done! We'll see if it works for my diverse blogging purposes and composition.

Yes, I am not generally writing fully extended pieces, but notes. There are those times when I have read a lot and the lines flow towards a fully fledged post. Yet, for a more informal approach to learning, getting informed and writing about it all, therefore blog, it is best to find a tool that matches the purpose of what you are doing. The purpose and the nature. A highly structured writing environment will not produced spontaneous, thought provoking lines.

Hmmm

And I suppose the same applies when we choose among a spectrum of ICT options for our students -to be accessible in and outside the class. But that's subject for another post.


Follow-up on this:
Del.icio.us search: writing+tool

Labels: , , ,

If you're using Firefox, you might want to try the ScribeFire (Performancing) plugin for posting to your blog:

https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/1730/

Thank you Baxter. That add-on looks really interesting. Those drag and drop features may make a difference in my blogging experience.

Hola, Claudia.

I'm impressed with all the quality materials you have produced. I'm particularly in awe of your ELT Notes blog because it presents a very clear "picture" of your thinking-producing cycle. My own experiences largely parallel yours, though you've done much more in terms of creating new blogs (and other venues) and learning about, then incorporating, new features (such as RSS feeds).

My thanks for what I'm learning from you and my congratulations for what you've already created and for what you will create in future!

Dennis in Phoenix

Dennis,

I am flattered you have been exploring my online work. And yes, I am planning to create more!

I like to think that you are right when you say this ELT Notes blog reflects my "thinking-producing cycle". At least that is my aim.

I am determined not to erase pages once I moved on to a new way of thinking. Although I started in June 2006, my "voice" here has recently appeared. I am trying to solve technical problems in my writing -that's what you've read in this post- but believe me there is a lot more to solve about the process of writing in itself. Writing as you learn. And those of us who are involved in the use of these online learning and networking tools are constantly learning.

Hard to cope, hard to balance the learning-and-writing-about-it, but I am happy to incorporate something new every day.

I wish I could help, but I am struggling with this too. Right now I use google docs, but then any image I use has to be re-edited in my site because if you upload an image to google docs it uses a shortcut to show it on the document that won't work on my blog. I often will jump to
http://writetomyblog.com/
to format my blogs.
I'm not signed up with this service, but I have it bookmarked. I use it for comments - pop open a tab and type away in a nice big box in wysiwyg- easy visual editing, then I can covert to html if need be.
I'll probably look into it more, but for now I struggle with the same issues... I'll check out google notes, keep me up to date on what works for you:-)
Dave

David,

I had saved http://writetomyblog.com/ to my del.icio.us one hour before your post! I meant to explore it later, but now I have your feedback. This is funny.

I tried Performancing in my Firefox browser after Baxter's suggestion on the first comment here. It seems quite interesting. However, I haven't been able to configure the Blogger account there.

Now with Performancing and Writetomyblog, my question is: where are the draft post saved? I would like to access them anywhere and not just in my computer.

Anyway, both options seem faster than Blogger edit. That's a start!

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