Thursday, October 27, 2005

Cheetah II

I know everyone's sick to death of hurricanes, and believe me, I'm with you. I grew up in South Florida, though, and most of our clan is still down there, so this one really got me. I'll try not to be too annoying about it.

Getting back to Ways of the Cheetah, another thing you can do to boost your productivity is to be creative about writing time and writing tools. It's great to have a home office, but you can't spend your life in it. Think about times and ways you can write outside your writing space.

While Wilma roared through, I kept up with my daily schedule by writing on my PDA. Presently I have a PalmOne Tungsten E2 with a wireless folding keyboard, which is way fancy but I don't like it as much as my old reliable Palm m125, although the backlit screen is easier to read. 95% of the first draft of Afterburn was written on my old Palm during the 2004 hurricane season while the power was out (although I was scared to death I'd run out of batteries before I could archive my hundred or so memos on the computer.)

Writing on PDAs isn't for everyone, but there are alternatives for when you can't get to the computer at home:

1. AlphaSmart -- the portable word processor so beloved by RWA members really is a neat little machine. Lighter than a laptop, simple to operate, and the new Neo model runs up to 700 hours or more on 3 AA batteries. Also comes in a rechargeable battery model, and is still priced under $300.00.

2. Handheld voice recorders -- I carry mine in my purse and mostly use it in the car to tape ideas or notes to myself when I'm out driving around and running errands (also good for writers who give workshops and readings and want to practice.) There are all different brands, but you can find these at any electronics store. I recommend getting one that records on standard versus mini cassettes because standard cassettes are usually cheaper. My Panasonic RQ-131 cost me about $30.00 -- here's the newer model version.

3. Ye Olde School Notebook -- I have a million, I swear, but you can never have enough. Notebooks go where you go, and don't need batteries. They come in all sizes: little chubby 3" X 5" ones are the kind I carry in my glovebox. Mini legal-pads and note pads all over the house. Spiral notebooks are especially good because I can tuck a pen in the spirally wire.

4. Blank books or journals -- if you're not into keeping a three-ring binder for your WIP, one of these might work for your notes, research, or draft scenes. I like the ones with ruled and blank pages so I can sketch on one side and write on the other. They're also a bit more portable than a binder. Here are my all-time favorite journals from Victoriana Trading Co.


  1. Anonymous2:21 AM

    If your work allows, and you want to port your WIP from home to work daily, like I do, a USB memory key.( least, that's what they're called here).

    Cheap ( mine was about 15 bucks canadian) and it's essentially a tiny hard drive that plugs into the USB port on the computer.

  2. Anonymous9:33 AM

    Excellent suggestion, Nico, and that's what they're called here, too -- here's a link to some different brands.

  3. I cart about a little black policeman-style notebook everywhere (except the shower). Means you can intimidate people and convince them you're authorised to confiscate their donuts.

    And the black and red spiral-bound, A4 notepads are great too - they fold in half, so don't take up a huge chunk of your desk when you're checking notes.

    Wow... I just posted a comment about stationery. Must be getting old.

  4. For a quick verbally recorded note, many cell phones have this feature, and I've used it while driving down the road to capture a quick thought. (Make sure you are completely familiar with how to access this feature on your cell phone before trying this on the road--or better yet, pull to the side of the road for a minute.)

  5. Anonymous9:32 AM

    I'm glad you made it through the hurricane. Thank you for continuing to post; you always have interesting things to say.

    And thank you for the books!

  6. You can get digital recorders--no tape to run out of.

    I use these wonderful hardbound blank books from Border's. They're only $7.99 and they have something like 150 pages. They're cheap, fat, and durable. I like the unlined ones because I fit more on the page. But I'm a weird person who can write straight across the page, even if I don't have lines.

    And yes, I'm an office supply store junkie. :)


  7. Mead makes an 8 x 5 notebook that fits right in my purse! I LURVE IT!

    Linda...I've discovered that Pens are my Crack *sigh*


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