2015-06-14

WordPress

The other week, while at Launch Pad, I made a commitment to help keep the Launch Pad website updated. In order to meet this commitment, I will have to learn WordPress. This is both a good and a bad thing for me. The bad part is that it will take away the time I have for writing. The good part is that I will be learning a skill that can help me move my author website to a better platform and it will give me a skill I can leverage later on when I decide to retire from FirstEnergy. I've been wanting to learn how to build web pages for a very long time and this commitment makes it pretty much mandatory that I finally follow through on this desire.

My plan is to set up a free WordPress site called DougLearnsWordPress and use it to play around with building and maintaining a site. This will be a subdomain since I'm going to be throughing it away after I have learned enough to be comfortable with it. My author website is currently hosted on Webs.com. I started out with a free account but went to the paid version when I exceeded the number of pages allowed on the free account. Webs is easy to use because they have their own proprietary website builder. It does limit you to what you can do. I'm seriously thinking of moving to HostGator.

I chatted with a HostGator rep and he informed me that they are unable to move a website from Webs.com to HostGator. This means I will have to build my site from scratch when I do the move. This can also be a good thing as it is also another learning experience. My current contract with Webs expires in May of 2016 giving me plenty of time to learn WordPress.

I've hit a stall in Dragonverse Origins. I need to move forward in time about 2 months but doing so would make the book exceptionally long and insert a long boring section. I will need to use summary to move ahead but I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to include in this summary. Too little detail and the reader will be lost. Too much detail and the reader will become bored. I've been noodling on this for 4 days now. This is not the first time this has happened and I'm sure it will not be the last. I will eventually find a way around the problem and the writing will continue.

I've also been doing a review of Grammarly thanks to a free professional account provided by the company. I am still doing an evaluation but here are my initial thoughts:

  • The online version is severely limited in the amount of text it can check. Uploaded a partial document, making the changes, downloading the changes, and then merging everything back together into a full document is too difficult. I don't see a use for the online version by anyone.
  • The Word extension works well but it does disable the automatic backup feature of Word. This is not stated up front on the Grammarly website but there are good warnings provided after you install the extension.
  • I (along with a large number of my author friends) use Scrivener to write their initial draft. Although Grammarly does not integrate with Scrivener, this should not be a problem as most writers output their work to Word and do their final editing there.
  • Grammarly seems to excel at finding comma errors. It is also quite good at pointing out a variety of other grammatical mistakes. As with any automated grammar checker, there will be times when the program finds things that it thinks are mistakes but really are not. This is to be expected.
  • Grammarly is much better than Word when it comes to grammar checking.
  • The interface seems a bit slow but that could be because I am using an older netbook with a slower internet connection. Bear in mind that Grammarly does work over the internet and if you are hooked to a slow connection you will experience a bit of frustration. I used it in an airport and I could tell it was running quite slow.
  • The cost is what bothers me the most. Grammarly is a subscription-based service, like Microsoft Office is now. As a writer, I don't care much about grammar while I'm doing my first, second, or even third draft. I begin to look at grammar very closely in my final draft. This might be a year or more since I started a project. I also have an editor who checks my work. If the company offered an inexpensive way to check a single document then this would be a great way to double-check an editor's work.
Is Grammarly worth it? I'm still doing my evaluation and the jury-in my case-is still out. For those writers who crank out a short story once a month I think Grammarly would be a wise investment. If you do a lot of writing and you need to have your work grammatically correct all the time, then Grammarly is again a good choice. If you are a writer who works in Scrivener most of the year and then uses Word to perform your final editing, Grammarly may or may not work for you. You will have to weigh the benefits of the program against the cost. If you have an editor, then perhaps you don't need the program. If you don't have an editor, I would seriously consider spending the money on Grammarly.

I will be doing a final review in a couple of weeks. If my position has not changed, I will just reference this post. Otherwise, I will be posting my final comments on the product at that time.