The other day, I tweeted the following:

You don’t have to remember how. You only have to remember what.

It was in reply to this, from @jamesgarside_:

People: How do I [do thing] on computer?
Me: *googles how to [do thing] and shows them*
People: Well, I could have just googled that!
Me: But you didn’t. You asked me.
People: YOU should know how to do it without searching for it first.
Me: You didn’t know how to do it at all!!!

The tweet contained an appropriate head-banging GIF.

I could definitely relate that to Microsoft Word. I think most authors use it, even though there is sophisticated software dedicated to writing novels. And most authors have no idea what Word can do – features that would help them immensely if only they knew about them. What, not how. Once you know that a thing is possible, you can find out how to make it happen. But if you don’t know it’s possible, you won’t think of searching, to discover how to make it happen.

Shocked SmileyImage by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

I was shocked to hear one author’s method of working with Word. She creates an Excel sheet with the starting and ending page numbers of each chapter, so that she can go directly to the chapter she wants to review. During (or after) every revision, she updates the Excel files with the new page numbers.

That would never work for me. I have so many revisions that I would never manage to keep the spreadsheet up to date. Fortunately, Word itself has a much simpler solution – one that doesn’t have mistakes because it’s built in.

Working with Word

Cropped screen shot of Cultivating a Fuji in Word

This is how Word looks as I’m working on a novel. Down the left-hand side is my list of chapters. I give the chapters names, even if the names won’t remain in the final version. That way, I know roughly what’s in each chapter. When I want to review a specific chapter, I click on the chapter in the list and Word jumps right there. So much simpler than going to a separate file, rembering a page number and then going to that page in the Word file.

Sometimes I divide the chapter into scenes by creating sub-headings, which also appear in the list. The sub-headings won’t be included in the final version of the novel, but they’re useful while it’s still being written/edited.

I might not remember exactly how to set this up without trying it out, first. I might even need to google it. But the main thing is that I know it’s possible. What, not how.

You don’t have to remember how. You only have to remember what.

Could that apply to other walks of life? What do you think?



To celebrate the forthcoming publication of my novel, Cultivating a Fuji, the ebook version of my non-fiction book, Social Anxiety Revealed, is completely free for one day only. Today. Do hurry to download it before time runs out…