For example, for sales letters I’m now using a program from Thrive Themes. It makes much prettier pages than I can do on my own and I’ll eventually convert the whole site to one of their themes.
But the program drives me bonkers, or it did at first. There’s a learning curve with everything.
Or consider Dragon Naturally Speaking. While it doesn’t elminiate all the mousing, or even most of it, dictating to my computer is saving my hands, wrists and shoulders – even though I find some of the way the software works totally a total kludge. (A geeky term meaning “a workaround or quick-and-dirty solution that is clumsy, inelegant, difficult to extend and hard to maintain, yet an effective and quick solution to a problem.”)
I know I’m not alone because I’m often asked questions about technology. Websites seem to be a particular problem with people experiencing anguish over choosing a domain name, through installing and using WordPress.
We aren’t born using computers
Even the kids today weren’t really born knowing how to use smart phones and computers. It just seems that way.
Which is, of course, part of the problem. We think, because we see others do it, we should be able to do it too. I remember when I first started living on a houseboat. I could hardly tell sail boats from power boats. I felt totally dumb! My desire to learn to use boats well outweighed my embarrassment, but only when I figured out I could only ask two or three questions about boats in any given day. Any more and I’d start to feel stupid about everything, not just lacking in boat knowledge.
I’ve seen my computer game designer millennial granddaughter get frustrated with technology, and I’ve heard my 9 year old granddaughter get more than annoyed when something on the home iPad doesn’t work the way she’s sure it should.
It helps me to remember that computers, like cars, toasters and typewriters of old all have learning curves.
Technology and the freelance writer
One of the reasons I believe so many freelance writers grumble about technology – including the services that all of a sudden update their interface, leaving us feeling helpless – is because we deal with it every day.
I’m sure there are still a few writers in the world who use pencil and paper or pen. But for the most part freelance writers now use computers to get the writing done. Since a much work is done via the Internet most at least know how to bring up a webpage and send and receive email.
Come to think about it, word processing, surfing the net, and sending and receiving email may be all the technology a writer needs. Add a cell phone and that’s pretty much it.
Of course, these bloody computers offer us so much more. We can find free photos to use, we can secure documents in PDF format; we can create and maintain a professional website; we can pick and choose our way through social media to make connections with clients and other writers; we can find forums where we can get questions answered and where we can demonstrate our own knowledge — the list of nice to do’s or nice to have is pretty close to endless. Every single thing on this list and almost everything in life has a learning curve. We can get caught up learning about so many bells and whistles we never have time to write.
And I haven’t begun to address issues like computer failure, upgrades, and interacting with the dreaded technical support.
It won’t break
If you don’t take a hammer to computer or monitor, the chances of you doing any permanent damage are close to nil. Sure, you may hit a combination of keystroke you can never duplicate that causes a document to disappear — saving often solves this.
When I made the switch from PC to Mac I was working for match.com as one of the first 30 or so employees. I quickly discovered a guy who could answer my questions about the new computer use in ways that I understood. One day after I’d asked who knows how many questions he said to me, quote “Anne, push some buttons!”
He was exactly right. Sometimes you have to poke around clicking on buttons trying different items on your keyboard, and other experiments to really learn how to use a new computer properly.
These days I often ask Google for answers to computer questions. It’s amazing how often I can quickly find a solution to software problems and hardware problems.
Forums for particular software, and hardware are often helpful. I find helpful forums by asking Google.
Learning to ask for help is a big success – and it can start in tech.
Interested in learning more about using technology as a freelance writer? I’m starting a mailing list for writers interested in technology – you can join here.
Write well and often,