Friday, February 21, 2014

You Can Take It With You

As a busy day-job writer, you need to be ready to mix it up, to write on the go, to always have a draft or a research article or a final edit in your briefcase or under the seat of the car, or on your laptop, tablet, cell phone, or thumb drive.

Today’s technology makes it possible for you to take your writing with you.  Laptops, tablets, readers, and smart phones are all available.  But you may not own all of these devices, you most likely have one or two.  And even if you aren’t this electronically connected, you still have pen paper and perhaps a clipboard.

One of the most useful tools for today’s writers is a laptop.  Some use only a laptop computer.  Perhaps you live in a smaller apartment and don’t have space for full desktop setup.  While you can purchase a new laptop – preferably one with wireless—you can often find one for less that’s refurbished on a manufacturer’s web site.

The same applies to tablets.  While you may not have the keyboard flexibility of a laptop or desktop, nor the full word processing power, you can always purchase an optional add-on keyboard to help you jot down notes or make lists. Tablets and e-readers are better for reading overdrafts or for doing research—bookmarking web sites for later use.

Evernote, a program that allows you to save articles and whole web pages, as well as create to do and idea lists, as well as random notes, then access them on another of your devices at another time, is an excellent tool.

Even smart phones offer a way to access notes or to do pulmonary research while on the go.  With so many restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops offering free Wi-Fi, it makes sense to get plugged into today’s technology.

But while owning and using electronic devices is a start, you’ll have to get into a mobile mode if you expect to accomplish anything while on the go.

When you’re at your computer in your office, you have everything at hand—handwritten notes, printed out notes, lists, computer files—all at the ready. But when you’re on the go, you may not have all these things at your fingertips. To successfully work on the go, you have to prepare your work ahead of time.

Type up and print out your pages of notes. Save the files on your desktop but also save them to a thumb drive or directly on your laptop or tablet via a wireless connection. Also print out your notes. While some writers do all their work on their computers, it makes sense to have notes or drafts of articles, stories, or chapters of a book printed out so that you can mark or edit them with a colored pen.

Not all locations have Wi-Fi available. If you’re in a situation where there’s not electronic connection, then you can take out your printed notes and such for current projects, and continue working. But you have to prepare these beforehand.

One problem that can occur when working with a thumb drive is that you create or edit files on it but forget that the version on your main computer hasn’t been changes. Get in the habit of copying all the changed files onto the hard drive of your desktop or laptop at the end of each day or upon returning home if away for a length of time. If you’re using a laptop and a desktop, make sure that you save files to both in their most current form.

If you choose to read over drafts on your tablet or e-reader, don’t forget to delete them when you’re finished that project so that they don’t clog up the memory on your mobile device.

Another way of working while on the go is to use a service like GoToMyPC. With this service, for which you’ll have to pay a monthly fee, you can access the files on your desktop computer while working away from home on your laptop, tablet, or a third-party computer, such as those in a hotel business center.

Using your mobile devices will allow you to make better use of the incidental spots in your daily schedule—lunch hour, waiting for your kids to get out of sports practice, a half-hour between school drop-off and your morning commute, waiting in a doctor’s or dentist’s office, waiting to board your flight at an airport—when, given the right setup and equipment, you could easily fit in a solid session of writing or editing.

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