Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Lists of Best(?) Writing Hacks: By the numbers

When I pondered what to write about for this month's theme of "Best writing hacks ever," it occurred to me that better minds than mine have probably made lists and offered suggestions on the topic. I decided to do a little search and see what I could find. As you might imagine, I found plenty!

Without further ado, here is a random compendium of offerings from the vast world of the internet, in ever-ascending numbers of suggestions per list...
For something different, you might want to look at this one on the Reedsy channel on YouTube: Trying Your Favourite Writing Hacks. (Reedsy's Shaelin focuses on five hacks, tries them all, and comments on how they worked for her. The hacks are timestamped, so you don't have to watch the whole thing to find out what she thought of, for instance, the "writing with your eyes closed" technique.)
Let's try this with eyes shut!
By Anonymous - Hill’s Manual of Social and Business Forms (https://archive.org/details/hillsmanualofsoc00hill_0/page/20/mode/2up), Public Domain, Link

To wrap this up on a personal note: One of the hacks I use frequently (only I didn't realize it was a "hack" until I saw it in a list) is the second one mentioned in 3 Hacks to Write a Rough Draft, to wit:
[W]hen you’re typing along and feel the need to know a fact that’s pertinent to the story—yet you also know if you look up that fact you’re going to get sidetracked for at least several hours—just type in two little letters: TK. This is an old printing/journalism reference that means “to come.”
So there you have it.

Writing hacks galore.

If you see one in these lists that you use or would like to give a try, let us know!

Ann Parker authors the award-winning Silver Rush historical mystery series published by Poisoned Pen Press. During the day, she wrangles words for a living as a science editor/writer and marketing communications specialist (which is basically a fancy term for "editor/writer"). Her midnight hours are devoted to scribbling fiction. Visit AnnParker.net for more information.

14 comments :

  1. This is awesome, Ann. I'm saving this to go through those links you posted - though here we go down the rabbit hole again... ;-)

    I usually type [...] whenever I can't think of exactly what to write, or I know I have to check something. It's really easy to Find & Replace to make sure I fixed them all in the editing round(s).

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    1. Hi Elle! I know, there's so much here! If one is looking to procrastinate on writing, well, look no further. ;-) That Pinterest board in particular has LOTS of interesting info (not that I looked at everything on it...).

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  2. Great post, Ann, and I, too, love all the links. Will check them out.

    On another note, when I first saw that the theme is "hacks", all I could think of was the name of a writer's group I belonged to ages ago. We called ourselves The Hacks. Some of the members, like me, worked as journalists while writing fiction on the side. One member wrote pulp fiction to make money and wrote serious fiction when he could - hence the designation as a "hack writer."

    Sandra Brown was a member, this was way back when her career was first taking off, but she still remembers the group and our name.

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    1. Hi Maryann! "Hack" certainly has a lot of different definitions, including some I'd not heard of before that have to do with falconry. https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/hack :-) That's very cool that you were in the same writing group as Sandra Brown!

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  3. Oh, good! Now I want to fall down these rabbit holes and try them all. :D

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  4. Great post, with links I shall delve into. But, oh, that last one. I'm working on a book that involves politics, and every time I check a fact I'm gone for at least an hour. It's the same with first draft. I can't just write it and come back to it. I have to go over and over it, editing as I go, instead of getting it down and coming back to it. Obviously, I don't want to finish this book.

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    1. Interesting, Polly! Now, would you not want to finish the book? Hmmm? :-)

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  5. Thanks for this very important post, Ann. I will look at all suggestions.

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    1. Hi Carole!
      Have fun! There's a lot to explore. :-)

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  6. As an old-school writer (and occasionally thinker), I found this month's theme a bit intimidating. However, you've inspired me to take a deep breath and go for it. Thank you, Ann. Great links, by the way. :-)

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  7. Heading down the rabbit hole now....:-)

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    1. HA! Just be sure to set a timer to re-emerge... ;-)

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice.