Although this site is mostly about my editing services, I wanted to include a blog because I am a participant in the conversation about language and reading, not just a cog in the publishing machine. I hope to post once or twice per week here, on topics ranging from grammar and writing tips to more personal posts about my life and hobbies.
For this first post-launch blog post, I’d like to list a few of the websites/tools I always have handy during work. This is a mixed bag–some of these are for editing, some are for productivity, and one is for website/blog editing. As a freelancer working from home, I find that Good Free Internet Stuff is always valuable. (Grammar Nerd Note: It’s too bad I’m so attached to good adjective order; otherwise I could make “GIFS” or “FIGS” out of the above phrase, instead of the sublimely unmemorable “GFIS”)
Okay, this one is mostly for writers and editors, or anyone who likes to have a selection of words close at hand when they work. I like M-W because the interface is simple and clean, and it includes a good thesaurus (useful for when my writer-husband/office mate calls out for a better way to say “wrapped up in”). I also like that M-W is aware of the interaction between language and society, and they are involved in social networking; their “trend watch” feature discusses words in the news, and their staff films YouTube videos about interesting word origins. I also love the Oxford English Dictionary, but it is behind a paywall for those of us not affiliated with a subscribing institution. Dictionary.com is not bad, as another free option.
When working, I like having a timer going. If I set a timer, I can get immersed in work without having to worry about how much time has gone by. This is especially good for creating estimates, when I want to see how far I can get in a given time. The only way I can really get a good flow going is if I can forget about the clock. For that, a timer is invaluable. I also use it to time my breaks; it’s not really relaxing when you’re constantly checking to see if your 15 minutes are up yet. A good timer for Mac users is the one by Apimac, and an OK one for Windows users (I haven’t found a great one yet) is Egg Timer.
This isn’t work-related, but it helps me to stay focussed on work. Because I am on Twitter, and because I use Google for work, I occasionally come across sites of interest that are not directly relevant to the project I’m working on. One way for me to mitigate the desire to pause the timer and dive in is to put the site on my Read It Later list. Chances are that once I’ve derailed the immediate distraction impulse, I won’t ever go back and read the site. Using RIL means that I could, though.
As an English major, I was raised on the MLA Handbook. When I decided to start editing, I had to learn other (in my naive estimation, lesser) styles as well. I picked an assortment of other stylebooks and studied up. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with Chicago style. They have a rule for everything. There is even a usage guide inside the manual! However, it is a hefty tome. The online Citation Quick Guide (which I might have suggested calling the “quick citation guide”) is easy to navigate, and although the rest of the guide is behind a paywall, you can always interact with the friendly Chicago staff on Twitter.
5. Flickr Creative Commons Image Search
What is a blog post without an apt and interesting picture? I learned from this ProfHacker post how to use the photo sharing website Flickr to find Creative Commons images to use in blog posts, PowerPoint presentations, etc. The selection and quality are certainly better than those in your word processor’s clipart pool. Be aware, though, that not all CC licenses are created equal. Be sure to follow the rules outlined in the particular license used by the image you want. Some ask for attribution, others ask that you not alter the image, etc.
So, those are my favourite sites/tools of the moment. What are yours?