Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. -- Gene Fowler

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How to scramble your document

I've been writing in 750words.com for over a month now and I'm fairly pleased with the site. It suffers from occasional glitches and slowdowns, mostly late at night, typically when I realise I haven't done my words for the day and am in a mad dash to complete them. But generally it's a nice place to write. The owner of the site says your words are completely secure, but for some of us that's not quite enough. 750words.com doesn't have a privacy policy as of yet, so sometimes I'm a bit worried about the security of my words.

During the last week of National Novel Writing Month, the official word count validators open up and novelists can paste their writing directly into the site and get an official word count. Some of us, despite the reassurances of the NaNo crew that the words are not retained after counting, aren't comfortable uploading the work we've sweated over for weeks to another person's server. So NaNoWriMo offers a solution: scramble your document.

In Microsoft Office and OpenOffice Writer, open the find and replace dialog and enter [A-Za-z0-9], square brackets included. Don't put any spaces in there. If you do, you'll find your 45,000 word novel has suddenly been reduced to 6,000 or so, as the spaces will get replaced as well as the letters. As this is panic-inducing at the end of NaNoWriMo, I don't recommend it. In the replace with field, put the letter a. Or whatever character you want, really; it doesn't have to be the letter a. Be certain to check 'use wildcards' in Microsoft Office and 'regular expressions' in OpenOffice Writer, or you'll get an error.

Your word processor will replace every alphanumeric character with 'a', or whatever letter you chose. The word count remains the same, but now no one can make sense of what you wrote. The down side on 750words.com is that the nifty statistics the site generates will be absent from an entry you save in this format. It can't understand a page full of the letter a, so it doesn't generate any stats. But your word count will be valid and you can continue to progress toward bigger and better achievement badges. And who doesn't want to earn more badges?

No comments:

Post a Comment