Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Using Technology To Keep Your Writing Straight

I am new to writing beyond my job requirements. I am new to organization in a new way beyond computer files and databases. I am a Geek trying to become a writer and it's the most difficult thing I have attempted. Many try, few succeed. I get that now and my own personal excuses have been my greatest obstacle. But I am going to use my vast technology expertise and help bring some clarity to a disjointed technology world.

If you write you know you get the urge to write anytime, anywhere, on anything. Some may even have a digital recorder, like I do, to record verbal notes. What do you do with it all? This is where strategic technology use can come into play and help you stay organized.

Recently, as I was editing a story, I realized that a section I was working on was not the way it was supposed to be. Did I dream the changes, imagine it, just sketch up the idea? No, I had fully edited on a another device, in another application and had multiple copies floating around. Simple mistake but could have been mind numbing if this was farther along with a larger piece of work.

Between the written journal I carry, the iPad, the apps, the Mac at home I work on them all. It all depends where I am and what kind of mood I am in to where I want to write. Sometimes I don't want to sit at my desk and write but out on the porch. Sometimes the urge hits my at work and I want to write something over lunch. My handwriting sucks so I prefer to do it electronically. This is where a better strategy needs to be built to make sure you don't lose something you worked on.

Evernote is the best place to keep things centralized. If you are not familiar with Evernote, get familiar. It's free, I pay for a premium account because it's well worth it. It is a cloud app, accessible from any mobile device pretty much, it's robust, easy to use and more and more apps have integration with it for backups and saving to. You can even email an idea into your notebooks. Whenever I look at any kind of productivity apps for the iPad, Evernote integration is a selling point for me and now a must have. Even though Evernote is great for getting at your work from multiple places, it's not a great writing tool. It's good for short bursts.

On the iPad I use Phraseology for writing. It's simple and very powerful, especially with it's ability to analyze your writing and give you statistical measurements from how many times you use a certain word to a calculated metric on the reading level of your work. Fantastic.

On the iMac I use Scrivener. This is the where the hard core writing and creativity goes into. The downside with Scrivener is to backup to Evernote is a manual cut and paste. It does allow syncing with Dropbox, but I find Dropbox to be just a could based file holder where Evernote is a notebook based, indexer. 

As technology expands, the ability to get thoughts recorded is becoming easier. However there is a management skill that needs to be built to keep all your entry points straight and organized. Say I will use the iPad for drafts, only the desktop for editing, Evernote for ideas and never content. Without an idea how you are going to use all this great technology you will end up doing what I did and forget where you did what and erase what could have been the winning edit for something sub-par, or worse, lose it altogether.

Like everything in writing, to each his own, what works for you may not work for others. The only way to see is to try it.

Time to turn the page...

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