Chrysalis: Emerging Women Writers

December 28, 2010

Let a Little Physical Activity Jog your Creativity

Filed under: Motivations,Resources,Technique,Writing — Lisa Nowak @ 11:24 am
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When I’m writing I sometimes have trouble getting the words to flow, but I’ve found that a little physical activity will jog loose those ideas. I bought a digital recorder to capture my inspirations, and now I carry it with me whenever I take a walk or a drive. The model I use is a Panasonic RR-US450. It allows you to store up to 99 files in each of its folders, and you have to make a conscious effort to erase one, so you can’t accidentally record over your old thoughts, the way you can with tapes. This machine comes with software that allows you to download your notes to a computer. The voice recognition feature isn’t the greatest, but I understand that you can use Dragon NaturallySpeaking once the files are on your computer. Even without that feature, keyboard commands allow you to stop and start the file so you don’t have to interrupt your typing to pause the recording. In addition, the recording reverses by several words when you resume playing, so if you’re a lousy typist like me, you can easily catch what you missed.

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December 8, 2010

Making a Jpg from a Screenshot

Filed under: Resources,Technique — Lisa Nowak @ 11:07 am
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Over the past few years I’ve come up with a lot of shortcuts that help with writing. A blogging friend of mine,  Casey McCormick,  has a Tuesday Tips page which I’ve been submitting these to, but I thought the members of Chrysalis might benefit from them as well. I’ll start posting them here from time to time.

The first one isn’t a writing tip per se, but it is something I find helpful for blogging and other creative endeavors. With a PC there’s a simple way to create jpgs of anything you see on your screen without having special photo software. (You Mac people will have to figure out your own way to do it.)

First, locate the image you want to make a jpg of and bring it up on your screen. It can be anything on the Internet or your desktop, or even in Word (for example, I used this technique to create jpgs of two buttons on the Word toolbar). Next, press the “PrtScrn” key on your keyboard. It should be at the upper right, above the “Insert” key.

Now open a Word document and click “Paste” (or type control “V”). You should see a small replica of whatever was on your computer screen when you pressed the “PrtScrn” key. It may look too tiny to do anything useful with, but we’re not finished, yet.

To edit the picture, right click on it. From the menu choose “Show Picture Toolbar”. The Picture Toolbar should open somewhere on your screen. Click on the “Text Wrapping” tool that looks like a little dog. Select “In Front of Text” from the pull down menu. This will allow you to move the object around on the page independent of any text. It will help in the event that you’ve pasted more than one image into the document.Now click on the “Crop” tool, which looks like a couple of plus signs at an angle from each other. When you hover over the white adjustment squares at the edges of your image, you should see the cropping icon instead of the sizing arrow (if you don’t, click the Crop tool again). By dragging the white squares you can now crop the image.Once you’ve cropped your image, click somewhere outside it in the document to deselect the cropping tool. When you click on the image again, you’ll see that you’re back to the resizing tool. You can now drag the white squares at the corners of your image to enlarge it.

When you have the image formatted the way you want it, it’s time to save it as a jpg. I do this with Paint, a program that comes with your PC. You can open Paint by going to “Start” then “Programs” then “Accessories”. With Paint open, go back to your Word document, select your image, and copy it. Return to Paint and paste the image. (If your image is very small, you might need to reduce the size of the white background so it doesn’t show as part of the jpg. You do this by dragging the corners.)

Once you’re image is pasted to Paint select “Save As” from the File menu. When the Save Box pops up, it should direct you to the “My Pictures” file. If you want your image to go somewhere else, select the appropriate location. Now give the image a name in the “File Name” box at the bottom. Directly below that you’ll see the “Save as Type” box. From the pull down menu, select “jpg”. Now click “Save”. You now have a jpg of your image, which you can use the same way you’d use any jpg. Because you can use this method to make an image of anything you see on your computer screen, it’s a pretty powerful tool. When you can’t find any other way to save an image, this will get the job done. Naturally you’ll want to be aware of copyright law when using other people’s images.

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