by Craig Roth | July 24, 2013 | Comments Off on Write, Don’t Paint
The title of this blog post comes from my 5th grade teacher. At the time, White Out was in common use. It’s like white paint that dries quickly so you can kind of erase errors in pen. I was doing an in-class writing excercise and had reconsidered a sentence halfway through and was blowing on a layer of White Out when the teacher told me to just cross it out and keep going.
Essentially this was
an exhortation thata statement that the content is what matters.
That advice is turning out to be useful in my worklife today even though backspacing is quite a bit better than White Out. Like many workers I work on documents and presentations on a “composite device”, a conceptual set of computing capabilities embodied in many devices from my work laptop to a home PC and various smartphones and tablets.
Alas, in the real world this composite device really does consist of different devices with different capabilities and software. It’s a pain to position shapes in slides on my tablet, comments on Word documents on my tablet wind up screwing up formatting when I pull the result back to my laptop, and my home PC has a more advanced version of Office that does fancy transitions that are lost on my laptop.
One solution is to isolate writing and “painting” such as assembly and formatting. Use the plain text editor or notepad on whatever device you have. Emails to yourself will also work.
I’ve gotten so used to formatting as I go that I didn’t realize how much it distracts me until I tried writing out text in a plain text editor or describing slide bullets or diagrams without worrying about the font size and alignment. Write key paragraphs or slides separately and combine them into a single document and apply formatting when you get back to the office. My 5th grade teacher would be proud.
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