A Stitch in Time

I spent the morning revising a document that's in its final stages. My fingers kept tripping over the keyboard. Now, I'm an excellent typist, and while I may eventually develop arthritis (my mother has it), my fingers still have full mobility. I couldn't understand what the problem is.

Then it hit me. I was typing in a program that doesn't allow the use of the word expanders I have set up in Word. So I had to type out Every Single Word, including words I'm not accustomed to spelling out.

You might not think that this makes a big difference, but it does. When I was a medical (med)transcriptionist and was paid on a production scale, I was (ws) usually in the top 3 producers of the services (svcs) I worked for, largely because of my ability (abil) to store hundreds of short cuts in my head.

When I started (sta) writing, I used the same concept. It's not likely that I'll be using phrases like insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (iddm) in my novels, but I use all those everyday words. Words like tomorrow (tmr), with (w), throughout (tho), would (wud), should (shd), problem (plem), without (wo), yesterday (yd), very (vy), and lots, lots more. I produce these words with as little as 1 keystroke and no more than 3. I do the same for character names. This came in handy when one of the major characters of my novel Nothing But Trouble had an accent mark over one of the letters. It would have driven me nuts if I had to type it out every time I used it.

This practice is also handy when I am transcribing from my handheld, which I frequently (fre) use while out walking or while behind the wheel. I've learned to dictate narration and dialogue at a comfortable (comf) type-back pace, but I couldn't (cudn) do it without (wo) my word expanders (MS-Word calls it Auto Correct.) Of course, the drawback is times like these, when I have to spell everything out.

Have a great weekend (wkn)!


Donna D said...

I have heard of this feature but I never figured out how to use it. I would give anything to know to use this so I can avoid carpal tunnel while typing!

bettye griffin said...

Just go to the Tools menu of Word, and from there select Auto Correct. Adding terms is self-explanatory. In addition to oft-used words and phrases, it also comes in handy for words that you have difficulty spelling. For instance, I always used to transpose the 'i' and the 't' in 'with,' it would come out 'wtih.' Before I shortened it to just plain 'w,' I put in the incorrect spelling and instructed Word to spell it correctly.

It's also good for writing out contracted words without having to type the apostrophe, i.e., 'cant' results in 'can't.' Many of these are probably in there already. Just be sure that you're getting a "curly" apostrophe mark rather than a straight one. Proofreaders/line editors hate the latter type.

You can e-mail me if you have trouble (bettye@bettyegriffin.com).