WHAT I USE

Paper

There are a number of tools I use, and oddly enough, the one I use with the least frequency is pen and paper.  When I do, it’s largely to make a few notes about an idea I had about the next chapter or section of what I’m writing, and this only happens when I’m marooned somewhere without an electronic device.  It’s not that I haven’t done writing on paper before, and it’s not that I don’t enjoy the feeling of a really good pen sliding its way across the finest parchment.  I don’t like transcription.  As lovely as it is to be writing on paper, it has to be copied off onto a computer, eventually.  That’s a drag, and it slows me down (as I have a very fast typing speed and well, somewhat average handwriting).  Others may love it and think it the only way to go; let’s just agree to disagree agreeably on that point.

Desktop Computer

For editing, for using high-power programs like speech and well-known word processing software, nothing beats the unbridled power of modern desktops.  There’s just one problem – they’re a desktop.  Now, it’s not that I don’t use my desktop, but it’s almost never for writing new material.  It’s usually for copying in edits from somewhere else, making graphics for the website, etc.  Before I had my portable solution, it was where I did most of my writing, but again, that limited me to a specific place where I could do my writing.  Limit me to a specific place, and my “writing time” drops drastically.  That’s not my way of getting things done – might work for others, but not for me.

The most critical consideration for my full-size writing rig is that it must have #Scrivener! Although I can struggle without it on my MinRig (the Kindle Fire described earlier), I have to reference my phone for Scrivener information – not great. I’ll also have to copy back into Scrivener at some point, also not great.

The key negative to this Lenovo Yoga and all of its accouterments, together, is that they clock in at a whopping 17 pounds. Now, please understand that I don’t mind lugging this around as I have a nice bag with a convenient padded shoulder strap. It also doesn’t hurt that my laptop boots as fast as a tablet and has tons of power and battery life.

A key positive, beyond its power, is also ergonomics. The keyboard is very responsive and well-sized, and with a thin mouse-pad draped over the edge, it’s pretty easy on the wrists. The screen is crystal clear and easy to position. It’s the first VERY GOOD laptop I’ve ever had for writing, and I’m really happy with it.

Now, my desktop is usually reserved for … well, what I’m doing right now – working on the website. It’s also used for editing and formatting the books. It’s a mid-level HP system that serves pretty well. And there is a little bit of info on what I use. Again, I really wish #Scrivener would come out with a version for Kindle Fire, but in the meantime, this is what I use most of the time.

How small and light can you go and still write quickly and accurately? Here’s my “MinRig.” We start with a Kindle Fire HD tablet – this is for a variety of reasons, but not the least of which is price-point balanced with flexibility. For a modest expense, you can get the tablet and a free word-processing program from the app store that saves your work in the “docx” format. The available covers are simple and puts the screen at a good angle for viewing.

The second component is an iClever Bluetooth keyboard. It folds out from a compact and resilient package which travels well. The only modifications I’ve added little self-adhesive rubber feet on the bottom to prevent slipping on slick surfaces. With that simple change, I have a rig which…

  1. Is exceedingly light at just over 2 pounds,
  2. Cost me well under $150 to purchase,
  3. Can side-load MOBI files for previewing my eBooks,
  4. Can play MP3 files side-loaded (useful for text-to-speech editing), and
  5. Can play music to drown out background noise where are.

For me, it’s nearly perfect. I only have one wish that it cannot seem to meet. I wish Scrivener was available on the Amazon App store. If that was present (DropBox already is), my “MinRig” would be hitting every mark! Well, hopefully, they’ll work on that! Anyway, more later!

Off-Site Computer Back-up

What’s the use of buying hard drives to stack in a corner as back-ups if your place burns to the ground?  That’s not decidedly bright, in my book.  Copying to CD, DVD, or USB drive – it’s the same problem.  You need to get the stuff you write AWAY and SAFE and SECURE – like, out of the flood plain, out of the path of the hurricane, out of the blizzard collapsing your roof, far from the fire-line, etc.  There are multiple ways to do that, but for me, I have a service that’s working very well.  My service basically backs up all of the work files on my computer without me having to do much of anything.  It eats a little bandwidth (especially in the beginning), and you have to tell it to pause if you’re going to need the Internet connection for some serious stuff, but otherwise, it’s the perfect back-up tool (from my point of view).   Now, will it back up a video collection of your favorite soap opera or sci-fi series?  No (not by default, anyway).  It will, however, copy your files up to a secure, highly-redundant datacenter, and make them accessible to you should you need them.  Case closed.  Oh, and it’s much cheaper than hard drives; so there!