Thursday, October 13, 2011

LEARN AS YOU GO

Current Project: LEGACY series
Status: editing book #3
Posted by: Genene Valleau

Several people have commented they have technical expertise in some areas, while they struggle in other technical areas. I fall into this category.


Some software hums along for me and I'm quite happy spending hours at my computer. Other software I have a passing knowledge of and we've come to an understanding of sorts. Then there's the software that equates with having someone pull out your hair one strand at a time.


There are a number of software packages I use in connection with writing. For graphic design, my "happy for hours" software includes Photoshop and InDesign. I design book covers in Photoshop. I also work in Photoshop to develop many promo items like bookmarks, posters, flyers, etc. Though I cross over to InDesign and its page layout capabilities to finish many of these items, and I use InDesign to format presentations and make handouts.


I pretty much zoom around in these software packages and feel comfortable trying new things. Though the other day Photoshop shut down unexpectedly when I was working on a book cover and lost all the changes I had made to the document--even the ones I had saved. It reverted completely back to the version I first opened. It was weird and I was baffled and felt a bit betrayed. Guess my computer and that software were made by humans after all. :)


I also get around pretty well in Dreamweaver since that's what I use for Web sites. (My apologies to Paty--not trying to rub salt in her Web site wounds.) Though I many times do a draft of how I want my Web pages to look in Photoshop, I use Dreamweaver to write the HTML code for me. However, there are a lot of features I want to learn in this software. I know it can do a lot more, but I've focused on the design end of Web sites and not on the behind-the-display technical stuff that Debbie and others can do.


I wouldn't recommend the software I use to anyone who's not going to be looking for jobs as a graphic or Web designer. It's pretty expensive and rather complex until you get the hang of it. However, like any software, I think the more you use it, the easier and more comfortable it becomes.


Then I descend to the next level of software expertise.


Word and I get along well enough for me to write my stories, though I don't trust it like I do my design software. Hey, it's a personal relationship built through years of working together. :)


I also use Excel for basic databases. Many years ago, I worked with fairly complex databases, then moved away from them. So I'm relearning what this software can do as I use it to track my LEGACY series. I have to admit, though, when it baffles me I usually just let the software have its way rather than fight with it or try to figure out what I'm doing wrong.


When I get beyond page layout, photo manipulation, and basic word processing and databases, I fall into the abyss of a non-techie.


I have a Facebook page and one in MySpace, though that seems to have fallen off most people's radar. I've never tried Twitter, though I supposed I "should" as I move into promotion mode again soon. My cell phone is a basic model I can use to make calls and, hopefully, realize that ring tone is mine and answer it. Texting is not fun and my kids have given up trying to show me the more "advanced" features.


It's not that advanced functions aren't cool or that social media isn't a great place to keep up with friends and fans. But I don't have room in my head for that stuff with all the stories fermenting and taking shape. (Yes, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. :)


I know I will learn other software packages. I'm eager to develop book trailers, though I know some people say they don't help sell books. They look fun and will be a challenge I'll enjoy. Fortunately, I usually pick up on software pretty quickly and, if I use it a lot, it sticks with me. That's one of the major reasons I learn as I need the knowledge. If I don't use something on a fairly regular basis, it soon falls out of my head. Then I'd have to relearn everything when I could be using that time to write stories!


I guess the main message of this meandering blog post is not to worry if you think you're a techie or non-techie. If you need some technical knowledge, learn it when you need to or find someone to help you or and an expert to do it for you. If you don't need the technical knowledge, don't worry about what others say you "should" know. It will just take up space in your head where you could be plotting stories. :)


So, is there a software or technology you've been eager to try? Or are you content--and don't need--any more techie stuff in your brain?

4 comments:

Paty Jager said...

You are much more techie than I am. I'm impressed with all the programs you do use. I'm still wobbling around in excel.

Genene Valleau said...

Hey, Paty! As I said, I learn as I need to. Just as you did to get your Web site up and running. So glad to see it's "live" again!

Sarah Raplee said...

Hi Genene,

I want to get my website up by the first of the year, and I want to learn Twitter

My son can help me with any website problems I encounter, and I took classes in website design, so I feel pretty confident about that project.

I agree that learning as you need it makes sense.

Genene Valleau said...

Hi, Sarah! It's nice to have kids who can help with technical "stuff," isn't it? I'm not sure about Twitter, though I know it's popular right now. Guess I'll have to plead writer who would rather write on that one. :)