All Things Writing

The Craft of Writing


Apps to the Rescue

I’ve been running like a fool, trying to keep track of too many things between too many devices.  The result?  An exhausted, frazzled me.  And a hot mess of note, notecards, notebooks, pads, scraps of paper…

Today I decided it was time to tackle it all and find a way to get my iPad, iPhone, and Mac to play nice with the software I use most often.  The result — SUCCESS!

I use Scrivener for my nonfiction projects. I’ve also started to use if for organizing other projects.  For instance, I’m using it to keep track of everything associated with the redesign of my website and the associated considerations for the type of business I’d like to pursue this year.  If I were in my office all day, I would just work in Scrivener on my computer but most days I have at least an hour or two of accumulated time when I could be doing something work-related but I’m not in my office.  Don’t get me wrong!  If I’m caught up with my work, I actually read or catch up with friends.  But sometimes that’s just not possible.

I’d read somewhere that I can use simplenote to synch with Scrivener!  The Scrivener program is on my desktop, with the data file in Dropbox so I can access it from my laptop if I want.  The simple note app is on my iPad2 and my iPhone4.  The data file is in the cloud.  I watched a video about synching the notes I make or the changes I make to existing content and voila, I can do work on my iPad and synch it back to Scrivener.  It really works!

I also have started using Evernote to keep track of my ideas.  There is an app for my desktop or laptop as well as for my iPad2 and my iPhone.  The data is stored in the cloud so all I need to do is log in and add a note or make a change.  It’s available to all my devices whenever I want to plan or work.  It’s simple to use and I have the notes categorized with tabs to I can see by market, stage of progress, overall topic, etc.  For me at least, it’s far more useful than a simple reminder or ToDo list.

So as long as the cloud and Dropbox and Evernote are available, I’m good to go …

What software and/or apps do you use to keep track of your ideas and work in progress?  Please share your experience!


Long Live Dropbox

I chose to freelance for three excellent reasons – my kids.  Freelancing gives me the flexibility I need to do “the juggle.”  With time, I’ve gotten reasonably proficient.  The only persistent problem has been having the files I need in the place I need them when I need them.

You know what I mean?  You have twenty unexpected minutes to get something done and you didn’t bring the laptop.  You brought the laptop but the file is on the desktop.  You have the working file on the jump drive but the other information you need to complete the project is back at home on the computer.

The best solution I’ve found is Dropbox.  It’s cross-platform and everything for a project lives in a folder in Dropbox.  It’s not the same as Documents to Go or similar programs that require me to sync before the files are available on the receiving computer.  My files reside in Dropbox in the “cloud” and I work on them while they stay in the cloud.  My Dropbox account is password protected.  I’m not sure I’d put something highly confidential up there but my latest essay and research notes are hardly state secrets.

For the first time in my freelance career, I can just get to work without a lot of prep work.  I also know I have one and only one version of a document – let’s not even go there!  You can use Dropbox on your iPad, too, if you’d like.  There’s really no reason you can’t have what you need where you need it when you need it.  All in all, it makes me more anxious to see what other cloud offerings are on the horizon. You do need internet access to get to your Dropbox files.  That’s not a problem where I live because there’s free wireless available pretty much wherever I am.  When there’s not, I use my iPhone as a hotspot.

There are obviously other ways to accomplish the goal of having what you need where you need it when you need it.  A jump drive is one and I have a jump drive.  It’s with me all the time.  Still, it just isn’t the same as using Dropbox.  Not a lot of help, I know, but it’s true.  I also have iDisk but I could never get it to work the way I needed.  Maybe it’s successor, iCloud, will be an improvement.  If it is, it could give Dropbox some serious competition.

Technology is finally at the point I need!  The productivity gains they promised in the 80’s have arrived and I could not be more thrilled.

Long Live Dropbox.  It’s added hours to my workweek without having to give up more sleep!