I move in mere days. Well, kind of. I’m paid up at two places so I get to move the big stuff and then run back and forth for the little stuff. But that’s ok! Because it’s almost over, and I get my life back! I’ve been succeeding in getting some better sleep, and it’s been so long since I have been able to do that I had completely forgotten what the world looks like when one is well rested. Goals are less unattainable. Ideas in my head work. I stop seeing miniature elephants riding tricycles across my desk.
In the weeks leading up to the move, I’ve spent a lot of time putting the digital stuff together and in doing so getting insight into my processes. While I’m learning to appreciate the physical space more (especially when I realized how little I had in my current digs) I’ve also discovered that I’m a complete devotee when it comes to certain digital tools, so until I have things sorted out I leave you with some of the tools I have been using to get things back on track.
Scrivener — I don’t think I would have been able to get anything done with winter without Scrivener. The novella I was working on in the winter began in the middle, with one single scene and I just built the rest of the story around it. It’s a mess, but it’s done, and using Scrivener really helped that happen. I really have no use for some of the bells and whistles in Scrivener, but as a word processor it’s top notch. The WP turns into a corkboard with the click of a button, letting the user see an overview of all chapters and writing bits, and you can have your word count target right there in the text file. Watching the word count going from red to yellow and finally to green is a great motivator. Scrivener isn’t free, but anyone who can’t seem to get the hang of linear writing should download the trial and see how it works for them.
Clean Desktop – Apple kicked my ass. I don’t want a Mac, I’m perfectly happy with my cheap laptop, but my brain can’t handle anything that doesn’t look like my iPad or iPhone. So I’ve given my desktop a make-over an mimicked this by using huge honking icons. The bigger, the better! However, I’m also a digital hoarder, so I have a catch-all folder on my desktop. It serves no purpose to save a picture of a pug dressed like a flying monkey, or Hobo Joe, but it makes me feel better to have it. I just don’t need to see it.
Empty Folders & Flash Drives – I don’t save anything I want to keep on hard drives or flash drives anymore. Noting in My Documents. I pay for online storage. It’s well worth it to know that if my computer bursts into flames Hobo Joe will be the only casualty. Why do I reject these physical means of storage? Two words: lost manuscript. Yes, I wrote a fucking book and saved it somewhere on something and I have no idea where it is. It’s possible it was on my old computer before it died, or was on a flash drive I accidentally bent in half, but I just don’t know.
A VGA cord – Like most people I have a laptop. I needed a second monitor, but I wasn’t going to pay for one. So I got a VGA cord and hooked that fucker up to the TV and laptop. Now I have a 32″ second monitor, which is pretty awesome when I need an image or something right in front of me while I frig around on the computer.
Springpad – It’s a more functional version of Pinterest. With Springpad, you can add lists, links, notes, music, and so on but keeps the corkboard format of Pinterest. I started using Springpad when I had trouble syncing with Evernote and lost a lot of good stuff. Also it syncs to iPhone and iPad, so I can have my stuff wherever I go.
Skydrive – Some people swear by Dropbox, but I prefer Skydrive. For one, extra storage is cheaper than at Dropbox. A lot of people cite that security is better at Dropbox than Skydrive, but I don’t need a lot of security. No one is trying to steal my porny manuscripts, so I’m content with my wads of space for an extra $10-25/year.
Dropbox – Ok, so I do use Dropbox when I have to. I use a few apps that sync to Dropbox and no where else. iWriter, for example, is a text-based word processor for the iPhone and iPad. Also, I have Scrivener synced to Dropbox.
Evernote – I don’t use Evernote for much of anything anymore except for writing prompts. Some folks swear by Evernote, but I never got into it too heavily.
Instapaper – I initially planned to use this as a way to read blogs, but I basically use it for bookmarking now. At work, on my phone or tablet, I will just add things to Instapaper and go back to them. In short, I use this as a porn dump from my phone.
Simplenote – This is where I put calls for submission I stumble across. Only calls for submission!
(Of course, a lot of the cloud services I use also have mobile apps with varying degrees of usefulness.)
Turboscan – As a lot of writers are, I am occasionally struck with the fever to write by hand. This is where Turboscan comes in. You open the app and take a picture of your document, turn it into a PDF, and discard the note. It lets me go old school without having to put up with the clutter.
Pages (or a decent mobile word processor) – I don’t think I could ever finish a book on my tablet, but I’ve written a few shorts (Two Man Job from Sudden Sex was written on my blackberry). I can then send my work to Skydrive, Dropbox or another cloud service.
Index Card – All this app does is create a virtual cork board. I use this mostly for time management.
So that’s my digital life. Much more effective than a file cabinet, and mostly impervious to fire and flood … and definitely makes this move much easier, since all of this can be transported in a good laptop bag.