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Technology Habits

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.

·         http://www.inspiration.com/visual-learning/mind-mapping

·         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.


SixthAVOID making a list of naked URLS & find credible sources

·         http://www.inspiration.com/visual-learning/mind-mapping

·         http://www.inspiration.com/visual-learning/brainstorming-webs

·         http://www.inspiration.com/visual-learning/outlining

·         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.

·         http://www.refdesk.com/newsrch.html

·         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?

Cherie Dargan,
Dec 5, 2016, 8:05 PM