Friday, February 26, 2016

Best of the Archives: AlphaSmart + SpeedBo = Win-Win!!!

Debby works on her AlphaSmart.
Debby Giusti here!

I first posted this article in March 2012 and thought it might be a fun way to get us pumped for Speedbo 2016. In case you're wondering, I still use my AlphaSmart to create the first draft of my stories, as well as my blog posts.  

Anyone who has stopped by Seekerville in the last month knows we’re in the middle of SpeedBo.  At least 118 writers have been feverishly cranking out pages to complete—or come close to completing—a book in a month.  Read through the blog comments each day, and you’ll be inspired by the hard work and persistence of the committed folks pushing forward to the finish line. 

Our techniques vary.  Some write early in the morning; others turn on their computers late at night.  Pantsers rely on a flow of inspiration with seemingly little prior planning, while plotters work from a detailed outline that guides them as they write. No matter how we attack the SpeedBo challenge, the final result is increasing our page tally and eventually typing THE END on our stories.

Ask writers about the tools they use to enhance their creativity and up their daily page count, and they might mention a good laptop or a Netbook, perhaps even an iPad. 

For me, it’s my AlphaSmart.  The word processor was developed in 1992 by two engineers, who had previously worked for Apple Computer.  According to Wikipedia, their goal was to "deliver affordable, lightweight, rugged portable computing devices."  While the AlphaSmart was initially created for classroom use, the company soon realized their product appealed to writers, as well.

AlphaSmart 3000
AlphaSmart, Inc, eventually sold to Renaissance Learning and changed their name to NEO Direct, Inc. Their newest model, the NEO2, comes with a built-in spell check, thesaurus and calculator as well as wireless printing capability.

Courtesy Renaissance Learning Inc.

Another favorite, the Dana, has more bells and whistles, and according to the company, is the “Ultimate Palm-Powered Writing Tool.” 

The Dana
Courtesy Renaissance Learning Inc.
I have the AlphaSmart 3000, an older model that has served me well for almost ten years. The screen shows only a few lines of text, and the simple commands prevent me from editing my work so I just keep writing…and writing…and writing. 

Each of its eight files holds 23 to 24 typewritten pages, which can be downloaded, via a USB cable, to my computer.  Do the math.  For a 300-page manuscript, I need to fill 12 files. After completing ten books, I now see the story laid out in 24-page increments and can judge my progress by how many files I’ve filled. 

My Alpha runs on three AA batteries. Since it weighs less than two pounds, I can take it anywhere and work no matter where I go—while in the carpool line or at the doctor’s office, even standing in the kitchen, waiting for water to boil. 

Over the past few months, I’ve tried to change my writing method and go to a daily page count of clean copy, like some of our more productive Seekers. But what works for them left me frustrated and blocked.

The first Speedbo
When we started blogging about SpeedBo, I still had more than half of my current book to finish.  Needing to jump start my production rate, I reached, once again, for my AlphaSmart. 

As the files filled, I breathed a sigh of relief and realized writing a fast first draft is the way I work best.  Yes, the draft requires heavy edits, but when I have words on the page, I can see the story unfold and know where changes need to be made.

Speedbo Sign Up Details are Here.
With only ten days left in March, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned this month. The most important lesson is that I need to trust myself and the way I write.  The AlphaSmart allows me to push forward and get pages written in a timely manner without stopping to edit. In my opinion, that spells success. 

Wishing you abundant blessings,               
Debby Giusti
By Debby Giusti

When Carrie York arrives at the house she inherited from her father in an Amish community, she's shocked to discover a soldier's body on the property. Her neighbor, army special agent Tyler Zimmerman, starts investigating the murder, and Carrie fears it's related to her father's mysterious death. Tyler doesn't trust the pretty speechwriter or the suspicious timing of her arrival—especially since her boss is responsible for his father's death. But when someone attacks Carrie, Tyler insists on protecting her. With his help, will Carrie be able to hold on to her inheritance and her life? 
Order your copy HERE!                                             
Also available...

The Agent's Secret Past, by Debby Giusti, winner of the 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award for Suspense ...

and Courting Ruth, by Emma Miller ... 

A two-in-one reissue that features Amish heroines you're sure to love!

Join me Saturday if you're in the neighborhood...