Thursday, July 02, 2009

My Writing Page Gets a Face Lift

The old design having gotten too complicated, today I revised my web page for writing.

The new design is better. It is based on a streamlined writing process which still embodies the fundamental moves of my approach to thinking and writing, an approach that is marked by association and iteration.

The new writing page has two columns (it used to have three). The left column is for drafting. The right column serves three purposes: timing, outlining, and publishing.

The contents of the left column are simple: just a textarea formatted so as not to be too wide. The textarea appears inside an iframe which comes in handy later, in connection with publication links in the right column.

At this point, the column on the right contains a timer, a narrow textarea for outlining (and by outlining I mean just an informal list of words), and a list of links to web based word processors that open in the iframe on the left.

The process I follow when writing is simple. It is built on the kind of trust in the power of association of which William Stafford, Ray Bradbury, and other writers have written. With nothing or just a little something in mind to write, I set the timer for five minutes and write spontaneously and improvisationally in the textarea on the left for that time. When the time is up, I look over what I've written and type, in the narrow textarea on the right, a list of words suggested to my mind by the writing I've done on the left. Next, I delete what I've written on the left and begin again, this time following and riffing on the word list. This generally gives me a pretty good draft of some writing to share.

The links to publishing portals that appear below the narrow textarea on the right may be superfluous. I'm not sure. In any case, they open Zoho Writer, Buzzword, or Blogger within the iframe on the left. Buzzword and Blogger work better than Zoho Writer, which doesn't like to open in the iframe right away. To get Zoho Writer to open, you have to scroll around a little to login, then click the Zoho Writer logo in the upper left hand corner of the login page (you only have to go to this trouble to log in, however; after that - during the same session - the app opens fine with one click of the link). Buzzword and Blogger work better. Transfering text from textarea to publishing portal is simply a matter of copy-and-paste.

To prevent data loss due to a browser crash, I use Firefox with Greasemonkey and the textarea backup script installed.

I have added a bookmark to a locally stored version of my writing page to my browser's bookmarks toolbar. That way, if I feel like writing something, I can easily open the page in a tab with one click.

And that's my writing page at this iteration.