Where Geekiness Helps You Be A Better [Insert Title Here]

I unabashedly post geeky stuff alongside writing stuff here.  There’s two reasons.

First, I consider it a fair warning.  You know what you’re getting into when you start talking to me.

Second, there’s usually a reason why geeks do the things they do.  Sometimes that reason can be really, really useful to you.

Consider this:  I have stories that were resurrected from WordPerfect 5.1 files (barely) and later published.  I have tried to help others do the same with their old formats.  Heck, even trying to import old versions of Word into newer ones don’t always work well.

Well, friends, we are writers, which means that most of the time we’re simply working in plain text.  Maybe some italics and bolding, but the vast majority of what we’re doing (especially early on) is actually just plain text.  I’ve started using Markdown for all sorts of things, and it’s really quite simple.  Headers, bold, and emphasis (italics) are covered and easily readable in a plain text editor as well.

But there was one other benefit I hadn’t really considered until today.

I have several different “base” contract templates.  They’re largely the same – one is for a single-author collection, one is for the editor of an anthology, one is for the author in an anthology.  Some details (and significant ones) are different… but again, they’re largely the same content.

But I hadn’t sat down and written them all at the same time.  They were close, but had I left anything out?  Forgotten something?

Enter Meld.  Look at this screenshot below:

That’s comparing all three forms of the contract, showing where they’re different (and the same) so I can make sure the differences are intentional.  Awesome.  Yes, it’s confusing.  Imagine doing this without that tool.

So my base documents are in markdown, and then when I want to convert them to something else (say, the PDF contract proof that I sent out to authors for What Fates Impose today), it was a matter of a few clicks.  Convert it to a word processing document?  Likewise.  (Both courtesy of Pandoc.)

A lot of these tools are things which do require a little more work to initially set up.  But just like I’ve learned from eBook conversion (or medicine, or writing, or…) a little bit of setup makes things work much better on the back end.

Running a paperless office?  Learn from academics.  Holy crap, did I ever have to keep track of so many bits of paper (electronic and otherwise), and hands down the best way to organize them?  Mendeley.

NOTE:  You need to mark your private files as “Unpublished work – exclude from Mendeley Web Catalog”.

I have a folder there with all my academic files, and another where I scan contracts and the like – and assign faux “journals” to keep track of them.  So each book I publish – usually with 15-20 contracts associated with it – is a “journal”.  Series like The Crimson Pact?  Volumes of that journal.  Or however you like.  Then you can search to your heart’s content.

So take a few minutes to look at the workflow you have.  Who does things like that – but a bazillion times more intense?  The real nerds and geeks of that discipline.  Find them.  Find what they do.  And adapt it to your own life.