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.
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.
Now we’re talking! Originally, I started with one of the little NetBook computers, and although it gave me the portability I wanted, it was very limited. I upgraded a couple of years ago to an Ultrabook, and this thing is the writing machine. It’s basically a big part of what makes the books possible. It’s portable. Its battery lasts a long time. It has a keyboard that I can type on without thinking much about it (it’s comfortable to my hands). Most of what I’ve written has taken shape on the Netbook or the Ultra. Once completed as a draft, it gets uploaded to the desktop and the editing process begins. Having a Netbook available, more than anything, has allowed me to make the most use of “writing time.”
In the last few years, tablets have come a long way, and now that I have one of the smaller size versions, my ability to edit is radically increased! The reliability and stability issues I had with e-readers meant that I couldn’t edit more than a couple of chapters or else risk losing all my edits! Now, I’ve actually edited three books on my tablet while listening to my text-to-speech versions. It’s great in that I can edit as little or as much as I want to, and the readers keep my place. Now, much of this change in stability might also be because I’ve picked up the skill of putting together a book in the EPUB format common for electronic publishing. Regardless, it’s now a dynamic duo for me – the Ultra for writing a book and the tablet for editing it. Now, do I have to transcribe my edits into the book on the desktop computer? Yes, but having the flexibility has come to far outweigh that minor inconvenience. As great as the Ultra is for writing, it’s still a big device. This isn’t.
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!