I graduated college last month and began obtaining my freedom into the land of adulthood where dreams flourish and...pigs fly. Well, as a writer with a sudden increase in free time until I start my new job, I've been making some changes.
I am learning an alternative keyboard layout to QWERTY, called Colemak (http://colemak.com/). It makes better use of the infamous 'home row', and has better positioning of keys in general. That being said, switching over takes time (upwards of two weeks for speed comparing at least, for the average person); if you are a writer, programmer, or someone who types a lot (and uses all of their fingers to do so), I say it is worth the effort for the speed and comfort.
As much as I love my creative spark, lately it has been doin' me harm. Sure, I feed it and it gives me kick-ass stories, but after that I am left with a plot that needs further constructing and pruning. I am against a comprehensive outline, though, because I find that I work best when not stating the full intentions of my piece from the start. Great if it works for you, but this is my talky-time.
Outlining does not have to be as dangerous as battling a cobra with your bare hands, nor should it be, unless that is how you work out your stories. Normally, I think in silence about the awesome things I want to go down in the story; awesome does not equate to happy or exciting. When I think on those things, usually I am able to find another level of for the story, to make things more meaningful for all parties, including the characters. Sometimes, though, it is better to make an outline on paper, or machine. I suggest machine if you aren't drawing or sketching anything important.
In the end, whatever makes your story a better read is what you should be doing, and that may not be limited to one method.
Less time on Facebook
Boy, do I love procrastinating! Not doing my work, while simultaneously berating for doing the same thing is an exciting, never-ending quest, and the worst part is that only you lose from it. So, I have been spending less time on social networks in general. The pay-off from my limited, personal boycott is that, well, I have been more productive; I was able to fire my over-paid writing elves, too.
I do not, however, wish to make obscene gestures to those who you use social media services as a way to market and advertise – more power to you!
Music helps me get through my day, so I make sure to listen to great bands and artists. The problem, however, is that unless you are able to and accept illegal music torrents as a valid way of listening (just saying!), then either you buy a boat load of music, or you buy a subscription to an online music service! (Or both, if you so wish to.)
I have been listening to music on rdio (http://rdio.com/) for three months on the free version, and most of the songs and artists I wanted access to were available. If there is ever a problem, you will know because you will only get a 30 second preview. The same thing happens with Spotify, I believe.
I signed up for the base subscription, which for $4.99/month, gets you unlimited playback on your computer (desktop or web player). I won't go further into the pricing or the service in general, but two quickies: same price per month as Spotify, and the website is a work of art as a web app implementation-wise.
Using a full-fledged office suite
Google Docs is great at a few things, such as: real-time editing & collaboration, available as long as you have an internet connection, and is a good example of a web app. What it needs to do better is: allow for stronger editing and styling for the end-user. If you do not need specialized styling and do not mind being tethered to the web for access to the document, then gDocs is a great friend. I go back and forth, and will for awhile longer. I have my files stored in the cloud, so aside from the real time collaboration bit, I have the best of both worlds with Libre Office (http://libreoffice.org/), a fantastic open-source office suite. It is supported by a thriving community, and releases updates every few months. When it comes to publishing your work professionally, web apps won't be up to it, yet.