Is Technology Getting In the Way of Your Writing?

when writing tools break words stop flowing

You Can Write

But are the WordPress plugins’ “tools” and “features” and “settings” and “tags” becoming a  distraction?  Today the WordPress “admin bar” stopped showing up at the top of my blog site.  Ordinarily I can log in, write something, preview it as it appears on the site, click on the dashboard, go back in and edit.  Now I can’t do that and have no idea why.

WordPress Plugins are great.

But they don’t always get along.  And the ways they change the writing interface can become a real pain.  The HTML tab on my Add New Post interface mysteriously greyed out and stopped working awhile back.  I don’t know why.  I can still insert HTML by clicking “edit your profile” and clicking “disable the visual editor when writing.” It’s a pain.

And this latest glitch has my blog not recognizing me as an admin, so my own clicks register in Google Analytics.  Hmmm, another exciting computing problem to troubleshoot.  In the meantime, I’m not using tools, I’m repairing them.

Which plugin is causing the problem or what setting? Was there an automatic update that changed things?  Questions demanding turning things off and back on.  Fiddling.  Wasting time.

The goal of writing is to organize words to fashion a transparent window on ideas

When your reader notices the writing, he or she is not immersed in content.  The window is dirty, or it creates a distracting distortion or lensing effect, or in the worst case, your reader’s window has become opaque.

Writing tools need to be similarly unobtrusive.  If I’m looking at the little submarine window in WordPress and constantly wondering about font size or headers (which drive SEO, don’t forget about SEO).  Or thinking about anything other than communicating with my reader, the tool has become a filter or even an obstacle.

When writing tools are not easy and fun, and especially when they aren’t predictable, they discourage writing.  Is my blog going to stop working entirely?  When tools generate problems, they turn a writer into a tinker.   So today I realized that the technology that is supposed to let me share my work had generated so many idiosyncrasies that I am no longer writing.  I’m peering into a tiny box, wondering what will go wrong next, and worrying which conflicted setting is going to hijack my concentration.

Today I feel like doing a Thoreau

I want to, simplify, simplify, thoreau WordPress away, and abandon this do-it-yourself technological Rubik’s Cube.  Maybe I will buy a professional theme that comes with all the caching, and compression, and internal links, and everything else the plugins do.  I want to stop thinking about buttons and switches and think about words instead.

Postscript — Appears to have been a setting, discovered at the expense of about an hour.

Post post script:  Found a great plug-in that solved multiple problems created by other plug-ins.

WordPress Tip #1: Very Basic Widget Manipulation

WordPress Tip #1 for the complete ignoramus:  Learn how Widgets work.  Widgets are one of the most powerful tools in WordPress, even though they seem buried halfway down the menu on the left side of your Dashboard screen.

Once you have selected a WordPress Theme and have your blog running, open Dashboard and go to Appearance and then to Widgets.

Click the down arrow on one of your “Widget Areas” on the right side  Doesn’t matter which one, but make it “Primary Widget Area.”  Now click and drag one of the widgets displayed in the center of the screen — doesn’t matter which one, but for now grab “Text” —  drag it to the Primary Widget Area.  A rectangle outlined with a dotted line will magically appear.  Drop the Widget in the Widget Area.  Now type something in it, either in the title or the text box.

Now look at the change in your blog’s appearance by clicking on the very top of the page, your web site name.

Do you see the text you typed?  You have just fooled with a widget.

Remember: widgets are good, widgets are dear.

Now Go Back to Dashboard -> Appearance -> Widgets (you can’t change widgets from anywhere else as far as I know, which is not much).  To see the widget you made, click on the arrow on the Primary Widget Area, then grab your Text widget and drop it in the Inactive Widgets area.  Experiment like this with other widgets.  Nothing can go wrong unless you delete or remove a useful widget from your theme.

Are you an experienced WordPress user, and have I insulted your intelligence?  Good.

Are you an inexperienced WordPress user who has read something you don’t understand?  Bad.  Send me a comment.  I’m not asking for questions.  I’m asking if you read something you didn’t understand.