Notes from my recent Presentation on Writing in the Digital Era
The Basics of Writing in the Digital Era: Habits & Tools
· Technology has changed everything we do as writers as we move towards web-based tools, cloud storage, and mobile devices.
· We will talk about 7 habits that will help you work more efficiently and confidently in our digital era
· We will also point out 7 tools for tech-savvy writers
First habit: Go Digital
· “If I don’t have it digitally, I don’t have it!” Find a way to start doing your brainstorming digitally.
· Take a picture with your phone
· Use the notepad app on your phone
· Find your stack of little scribbled notes and transfer them to Evernote or Google Keep or Google docs
Digital also means MOBILE!
Second habit: Get organized
· Learn how to save files (file names matter! Where you store them matter!
· This file: The Basics of Writing in the Digital Era Cdargan CWW15
· Folder: CWW15 Presentation
· Your name + what is it? (draft? Poem? Column?)
· My pet peeve: vague file names.
Label pictures as you scan them in
· My Grandma Nellie with her second husband, Art, in the 1940s.
· I used Picasa, a free program from Google, to scan this in, edit it, & add the caption.
Third habit: use what you have!
· Don’t get hung up on PC or Mac or iPad? What do you have now? Unless it’s ancient, you are probably comfortable with it. Changing platforms won’t make you a better writer.
· However, are you taking care of your machine? Deleting old email or pictures you don’t need, updating software, & running virus protection?
· Hopefully you’ve moved on beyond Netscape navigator for a browser and have web-based email!
Fourth habit: Back it up!
· Computers will FAIL you, sooner or later! I lost a hard drive in the spring of 2014, only a few weeks before finals. I had a deadline for a column as well as papers to grade. How did I survive?
· External hard drive backed up weekly
· Student work turned in online
· Personal work on Google Drive
· Installed new hard drive & copied data over from the external hard drive and back in business.
· Invest in an external hard drive: Staples has several with 3 Terabytes storage for under $100!
· Set it up to backup your files on a regular basis (usually weekly)
Fifth: Make it Easy to Find your Materials
· Creating a folder for each writing project makes sense, and slowing down to create good file names saves time and frustration later on (research. docx versus August column apps for seniors research.docx).
· If you have to collect photos, sources, compile notes, etc. it is easier to put them together now and not have to hunt for them later.
· You can create those folders in Google Drive, Drop box, Evernote or many other web based tools.
· Google Drive is my personal favorite! I can move from PC to iPad to laptop without a problem.
· As you do research, don’t rely on bookmarks. If you see a source you want to use, copy and paste the URL & add a brief descriptor.
· Inspiration – there is a lite version is free for the ipad. Can download for a free 30 day trial. Hands down my favorite mapping tool. Link explains a mind map.
Sixth—AVOID making a list of naked URLS & find credible sources
· One of those was really cool….wonder which one? Always add a quick blurb to help yourself remember content.
· Make friends with a librarian if you’re a newbie!
· Go beyond Google to specialized search engines.
· List of search engines and tools
· Look for the date last updated, sources cited & person or organization behind website (Webmd or Facebook post?)
Seventh -- Get Feedback, Revise and Proofread One More Time!
· What works for you? Read it out loud?
· Most of us do not do well when proofreading on the screen: we need to see it on paper, mark it up and make changes.
· When you’re done, look back at the guidelines. Need a word count? Have you saved the document in a format and with a file name that fits the guidelines? Are there other materials that need to be sent?