Apprenticeship Week 10

How has it been another week? Less than a week since my last post, even! And I turn 19 in two days!

Projects This Week

I got back into the swing of things and I’m getting motivated again! I had a rough couple weeks but I’m coming back with a vengeance – towards obstacles to getting work done.

APS Rep Project

This week I made some good progress on the project Josh assigned. I described some of the specifics of the project in the posts about the previous couple of weeks.
Each day I’ve been dealing with new incoming emails from the various reps. This allows me to keep the visit log up to date so it can be used for decision making as far as which reps to keep. As per Josh, that’s why we’re logging all the visits. Which makes sense. We get a monthly report from each rep for the market they manage, but if we can see at a glance how many visits they made as well as how much money they made us, we can make better decisions. I make sure to stay on top of the incoming emails so when I finish the old emails I can manage the project instead of being constantly behind.
I feel like I’m drowning in the project now, but I don’t want to stay drowning when I should learn to swim. Additionally, when it comes time for someone else to take over the project for any reason if there’s only upkeep, it will be far easier and more seamless.

I finished going through the emails for another rep. I still have a lot of markets to go through. I made a graph/checklist thing to help me stay motivated by having a visualization of my progress on the current phase of the project. It’s maybe silly, but filling in a little box for what month the emails were from when I finish going through them is satisfying. I plan to make more graph/checklists for the next phases of the project, too, since it’s helping with this one.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I have a notebook with three sections, lined, blank, and graph. I should take it to work. Once I use up the legal pad I currently have it could be useful to have the graph paper and the lined paper.

Writing Projects

I’ve been using Blurt to write. It’s a really awesome tool. It has word-processor features but it’s built to be a place that facilitates writing. You can blur the words so you can’t read what you’ve written until you’ve finished writing, which can help you keep your brain in create-mode and prevent you from switching to editing mode. This task switching can kill creativity and make writing so much harder than it needs to be. If you can’t keep it from happening yourself, using the blur feature could be a game changer. (There’s also a free website that just blurs your writing while you write so you can’t edit it.) Then when you’re done writing, you can turn on the editing help, which points out sentences that may be difficult, words that could be overly complicated, adverbs, and passive voice. (If you want this feature for free, try Hemingway Editor.) I like that you can set writing goals for various projects and have email reminders to write on every writing day.

I’ve made three projects in Blurt.
One of them is for blog posts, and right now the goal is every Friday. Every day I write 500 words in this project, I reach my writing goal and add to my writing streak. Any Friday I don’t write, my streak resets to zero.
The other projects are my personal journal and the novel I just started. Both of those are set to daily goals. I have to write every day for the streak count to go up, and any day I miss resets the count. Today will be day 5 for my journal and new novel, and day 2 for blog posts.
I’ve started tracking my daily writing, because Blurt tracks the days I met my goal but not how many words I wrote on previous days. So far I’ve written over 5000 words since Monday!

Conclusion

I had a rough couple weeks, but things are looking up. I’m starting to form good writing habits, and based on past experience that will pick up into an upswing of good habits in other areas too. I’m making progress on my work projects and tracking it to keep myself motivated. Motivation has been most of my trouble recently, and I have it again.

My Thoughts on Hemingway Editor

I adapted the majority of the text for this post from a journal I wrote. It was rather rant-like and angrier than it needed to be. I apologize if any of it still comes across that way.

A while back, a friend of mine gave me the link to a website called Hemingway Editor. I don’t really agree with the premise of the website, that simpler is always better. So what I write is supposedly too hard for sixth graders to read and has some sentences longer than ten or so words. Is that really so bad? Does that truly make it hard to read?

When it was initially shared with me, I put several of my college discussion board posts into it, and one of them was rated a “grade seventeen” reading level; the site gives the grade level required to read the writing, not the grade level the writing itself is at. The website said it was “poor” because it was a grade seventeen. I might have gotten a really bad grade if I simplified it to about tenth grade like the website suggests!

“Simpler” is not always better. Using adverbs doesn’t mean you don’t have a strong verb, or that a verb exists that will give the exact nuance of the verb already used with an adverb modifying it. Passive verbs, yes, they should not be used much, but there are cases where they are necessary.

Additionally, the website thinks simpler synonyms are better. I’m not trying to be verbose by using larger or more complicated words, I’m trying to use the best word, or avoid using the same word too many times. Occasionally I do use a word as a “Hey, look! I understand how to use this word properly in actual sentences!” Normally I choose “harder” or “more complex” words because they are necessary for the sentence to convey just what I intend. Using the right word is much more important than using a word everyone knows that has a similar though not identical meaning. If someone has to look up a word, fine. I do it all the time while reading! It’s not a hassle anymore now that we all have access to the internet.

Just for kicks, I put the body of this post into Hemingway Editor to see what it had to say. I have nine adverbs too many, three hard to read sentences, and two very hard to read sentences. Overall I was told this post is grade six.

What do you think? Is simpler better? Should writing be as easy to read as possible, avoiding adverbs, passive voice, and words that have simpler alternatives? Let me know in the comments!