Pay the Toll

Pay the Toll

Recently, our family took a rare day trip together to mark the end of summer. We traveled to Austin, Texas to gawk at the Texas State Capitol building and Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Both places were well worth the trip, by the way. I particularly enjoyed seeing the reconstructed remains of La Salle’s ship, the La Belle. So cool!

On the dri4-IMG_9309ve to Austin from Houston, we were presented with a choice: use the old, traditional roads or pay the tolls to access the bright, shiny new highway to get out of town.
Let me tell you, Kids, sometimes it’s worth paying the troll . . . Um . . . the toll. We cut at least thirty minutes from the first stretch of the journey. That stretch always takes at least an hour to navigate at the best of times. When we reached Austin, we used their tollway and saved more time. We spent our extra time sightseeing and eating a leisurely lunch.


La Belle

Fewer traffic lights. Less road construction. Fewer idiots. See what I mean? More time for what mattered. Totally worth it! Would I recommend taking the toll roads at every opportunity? No way. But it seems both wise and frugal to make that decision on a case-by-case basis.

Real Life

You knew I was going to apply this to real life, right? Well, here goes. I think it’s false economy to try to do everything yourself if there are experts around who can do the same task in a fraction of the time.

It’s false economy to spend weeks learning a new skill on your own if there are reasonably priced courses available to teach you the skill you need in a few days.


Texas State Capitol

Sometimes, the toll road is worth the expense. You can putt-putt-putt your way to your goal, and you will eventually get there. What opportunities did you miss out on while you were doing it yourself or learning a new skill by cobbling together the information? That’s what is known as opportunity cost.

Don’t get me wrong; sometimes the hard way is the best way. Most often, though, the best way is a mixture of DIY and paying for help.

For Example

A couple of years ago, I bought the Scrivener software to help me organize my writing. A lot of writers buy Scrivener, try it out, and abandon it on their hard drives. It’s not that expensive, as software goes, so it’s not a big monetary loss. Most of those writers claim that it’s simply too hard to learn.


The interior of the capitol dome; that star is eight feet across, y’all!

They work through some of the free tutorials, get lost, give up, and go back to using Microsoft Word. It works. I use Word almost every day. But is it really the best software for organizing a full-length novel? Those of us who have pushed through the Scrivener learning curve would answer no because it’s extraordinarily useful.

Scrivener has a steep learning curve because it has lots of bells and whistles. Some people can learn Scrivener on their own. That’s great. But I chose to take the toll road; I paid someone to teach it to me. And that investment saved me weeks of frustration and needless toil.

I Sound Like a Commercial

This isn’t a commercial for Scrivener; I just used my experience as an example. Take the long road when you can, but pay the toll when it makes sense.

Are we there yet-This is another installment in the column,  Are We There Yet?

Have you ever paid the toll to learn a new skill or get work done faster? Feel free to share.

A1047webTexas author, Kathrese McKee, writes epic adventures for young adults and anyone else who enjoys pirates and princesses combined with life’s difficult questions. She is committed to exciting stories, appropriate content, and quality craftsmanship.

Learn more at

10 thoughts on “Pay the Toll

  1. Years ago, the company I was working for upgraded from QuickBooks to Microsoft GP. They paid to have someone come out and teach us the new system for a week. It would have been truly impossible to transition without it.

    That being said, some things I believe in at least making an effort to do myself first. And there’s a real sense of accomplishment when you successfully change the heating coil in your dryer or replace the cracked screen on your cell phone. But I have to say, it would have been extremely difficult before the days of youtube!

    Liked by 1 person

    • With Scrivener (and any other software), I always play around with it for a few days before I seek outside help. That way, I know the questions I have. It’s smart to try to conquer stuff on your own, and I love to learn new things.


  2. Thanks for this, Kathrese. Lots to think about. I’m one of those authors who has tried learning Scrivener on my own and abandoned it. Where did you find someone to teach you how to use it? Was it in person or online?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was fortunate enough to catch Joseph Michael’s Learn Scrivener Fast course at its initial, special price. However, there are other online classes (that may be more reasonably priced). And make sure you pay attention; there’s quite a difference between the Mac version and the PC version. Don’t give up yet. It’s really great for organizing scenes and tracking progress. Best wishes for your success!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a Scrivener fan. In the past I mostly used it to organize my Word manuscript. Then came Scrivener iOS. I’m fully a Scrivener user now. It syncs up with my PC through Dropbox. I love that now I can even write on my phone..

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I am one of those Scrivener abandoners (is that a word?)! I couldn’t begin to figure it out in the admittedly short time I spent perusing it. I comforted myself with repeated mutterings of, “Maybe with the next book…or series…or life.” Do tell, who taught you how to use it? OR do you offer this service now???

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Scrivener Abandoners Anonymous. But seriously, I understand; it has a tough learning curve. I still look for stuff in the help notes because I forget what I used to know. Like I mentioned to Karen Autio, I was lucky to catch the Learn Scrivener Fast at a much lower price than it states on the site. Anyhow, sometimes it goes on “special,” and I highly recommend it. But I’m sure there are other courses. Maybe I should consider putting together a course, but I think I will get Lisa’s help. She gave me pointers too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. When I was working on my Masters degree, I would have loved Scrivener, or at least the current version, simply because formatting for APA or MLA is so tedious and Word’s version of this just got the formatting wrong. I’ve used it on my current manuscripts and like well enough, but only because it formats and compiles at the end. It didn’t take me long to learn the software either since I do that kind of thing for a living and then make the software simple for people that want to pay me for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I was a Systems Engineer at EDS, once upon a time. However, the obscure little gems available in Scrivener aren’t exactly intuitive, and I would prefer to spend my time using the software rather than doing battle with it.


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