I’ve been writing creatively for over 15 years. I don’t say this to brag (after all, it’s been over 15 years and I’m still writing with adverbs and expressive eyes). I say this for context. The quality (and subject matter!) has changed over the years — that’s expected — but what’s not talked about much is how all that time you used to have to write starts to disappear. How great would be it to get back all those hours you thought weren’t enough in high school and college? Early and mid-20s, before careers take off and families grow, how I sometimes miss you (only sometimes).
I’ve had to adapt — especially with a six-month-old who’s sleeping less and wanting to play more. I need to make time without prioritizing writing above the good things in life (my wife, my baby girl, my job, which is sometimes fantastically rewarding). Here’s one of the ways I’ve figured out how to do it. I call it, the Cloud…
OK, stop groaning. Seriously, it is a cloud-based solution, kind of. First things first, I compose in Google Docs. It’s pretty basic as far as word processing applications go, but I’m not trying to do anything fancy here, just write some halfway decent smut in my free time. You can export your docs as .rtfs, .htmls, or even .docs for easy sharing and uploading, once complete. I typically export to a Word file when done, run their grammar and spellcheck tools on it, and pass it on to my editor (i.e. my wife) so she can track changes (not that you have to, dear, all your changes are brilliant!).
The real beauty of composing in Google Docs is that I’m not tied to a single computer. Nor am I tied to any particular type of program. If I have my laptop on me, I can sit down at a Starbucks and hammer out a chapter. That chapter will be there for me when I get home. Or, if I’m in transit, I can access with Quickoffice.
Quickoffice is kind of like my secret weapon (yeah, not going to pursue that analogy). It’s a word processing program for the iPhone platform (and iPad, if you have one of those) that lets you access files you’ve saved to a number of cloud-based storage services (Dropbox, Box.net, SugarSync, and yes, Google Docs). No, typing on an iPhone’s fake keyboard isn’t the fastest thing (although I’ve gotten pretty good at it), but it does let you recapture some otherwise lost time. If I have a thought on my walk back from work (which often happens), I can pull out my phone, load up the story, and insert it. Some of my best progress has come in the middle of the night, when my daughter has woken up and I’ve needed to bounce her back to sleep (question the morality of my writing erotica with a baby in my arms another time, please, but just know that I don’t actually write the “good” stuff during this recovered time).
One quick note on Quickoffice (yeah, I went there), editing and restructuring can be a real bitch. Things that require cut-and-pastes are best done on an actual computer (not that it’s impossible, it just might make you want to pull out some hair).
And finally, it’s important to go over all those passages typed out furiously with my thumbs, because I’ve learned that iOS’s autocorrect can do some funky things (there’s a whole website on it). I usually do this in the early mornings or late at night, when the house is quiet and everyone but me and the cat are awake. It’s also a nice way of smoothing over some clunky or rough-edged prose.
Hope something above helps. I wrote almost the entirety of Little Miss Communication and After School Special this way, and large chunks of all my other stories currently posted. The combination of Google Docs and Quickoffice have made this hobby viable as my life has become busier and a post on them is the very least I can do to repay them.