You know what really distracts me? Red wiggly lines. Oh, and blue wiggly lines. Wiggly lines, distract me. I’m the kind of person who has to read his mail if I can see the envelope icon in my system tray. I have to check the notification on my phone if I see the LED blinking. It burns at me until I clear it. It’s the same with wiggly lines.You know what I mean, spell check. Last night, my better half, on starting to read my alpha zero draft said:
“You need a spell checker.”
That manuscript is full of typos. Probably one every three sentences. I know, and I don’t care. You see, turning on the spell checker, or writing in an application where it’s always on, distracts me like nothing else.
I started writing in MS Word, but I found that I didn’t always have MS Word around when I wanted to write, so I switched to Google Docs. Then I realised that once I’d got more than a few chapters in, I was finding it hard to navigate backwards and forwards efficiently enough. So I started using Scrivener. Then I had everything I wanted and I still wasn’t making any progress.
I realised I wasn’t making any progress because I kept going back to correct mistakes. Specifically spelling mistakes. Those red wiggly lines were like accusatory worms, wriggling along my manuscript, chewing up the soil and shitting out imperfection. I would stop, backtrack, fix my mistake, then I’d have lost my thread. It took me ages to work that out. They were like a chip pan fire to me, I just couldn’t leave them alone.
So, when I’m banging out a draft of a chapter now, or notes, or anything, it goes straight into a generic text editor. Notepad if I’m at a Windows machine, or more usually gEdit on my Linux machine. There are no spell checkers, no wiggly lines, no Jurgen Prochnow yelling “ALAAAARRMM!” in my eye, just white space and courier new. At the end of the day, before I go to bed, it all then gets pasted into a file in Scrivener, the text file gets filed away and I leave it. The spelling mistakes will be picked up along with everything else later on, when I redraft.
It feels good I tell you, better than good, it feels productive!