Easy ways to Backup your Work

Last week, I talked about the agonizing feeling of losing your writing. I was kicking myself for losing a notebook I had written something potentially brilliant in. I am still upset that I lost my first “real” novel that I wrote over ten years ago because of a bad floppy disk.

Now floppy disks are a thing of the past, replaced by CDs and USB drives. Today, there are plenty of options for backing up your work. Never lose your writing again!

Dropbox – If you’re not using Dropbox, it’s a great way to access your files from multiple computers and it serves as a sort of backup system for your writing! Dropbox is a web-based hosting service where you can save and share up to 2GB of documents, photos and videos for free (for up to 2GB of file storage). The files sync so that your updated files are available on any machine on which you’ve downloaded Dropbox. So I can work on my novel on my laptop, and have the updated version already on my desktop and pick up right where I left off.  You can also access your files on your web account, in case you’re on a computer that doesn’t have Dropbox installed.

It’s easy to use and its Free.  No more emailing files back and forth to yourself or carrying around your USB drive (though backing up on your USB can’t hurt!) Watch the video or download it at Dropbox.com

External Hard drive – an external hard drive is an expense, but a worthwhile one. I use an external hard drive to back up all my computer files at least once a year – although I should be doing it much more often! They are portable, easy to use and widely available online and in any computer store near you. You can one with a capacity and a price tag that works for you.

Evernote – is the electronic version of carrying a notepad with you. If you’re struck with sudden inspiration, use this app to save and capture your ideas, then access them anywhere with your computer, phone or other mobile device. I use it to jot down story ideas and potential character names as an alternative to jotting notes on scraps of paper which I inevitably lose.

What methods do you use to backup your work?

What are you waiting for? Go backup your writing! Happy saving!

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This Week: What I’m Reading, What I’m Writing/Editing

Inspired by the New Hampshire Writer’s Network Live to Write – Write to Live blog, I’ve decided to start my own regular posts about what I’m currently reading in books, audiobooks and blogs, and what I’m working on in my writing. I hope to make this a regular (weekly or biweekly) feature on the blog.

I hope you’ll share what interesting things you’re reading and writing in the comments, and please feel free to link back to your own blog!

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What I’m Reading

TORCH_Front_Cover-330I’m reading Cheryl Strayed’s novel, Torch. I read her memoir Wild last year, about her solo 1,100 mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail with no training or hiking experience, and I loved it. I was inspired to read more of her work after  listening to her speak at a ceremony for the Art of Fact Award from my alma mater, The College at Brockport, State University of New York this Spring.

Torch is about Teresa Rae Wood who is dying of cancer at the age of 38. Her family is left reeling and must deal with the loss and their grief.

So far, it is heartbreaking.


What I’m Writing

The short story I have been working on was recently read and critiqued by a writer friend of mine, so I am in the process of editing and revising that. Once it is ready, I will be researching literary magazine and possibly some short story contests to submit it to. More on that to come!

I’ve also been doing Morning Pages. Although I have to admit I haven’t been writing consistently every day, I am enjoying getting into the habit of writing (almost) every morning as soon as I wake up.

 

My Favorite Quote of the Week

“A writer, like an athlete, must ‘train’ every day. What did I do today to keep in ‘form’?”
Susan Sontag

 

Blogs and findings around the Interwebs

What Editors Want: A Must-Read for Writers Submitting to Literary Magazines
This is an article that came at the perfect time – I will be referring to it in the very near future! It is thorough and very helpful.

Two Pages a Day
From the Writer Unboxed blog, this post has some great insights on how to take small steps to reach big writing goals.

21 Little Lifestyle Changes That Will Help you be Healthier
I enjoyed this article and its useful tips – thought I would share!

Just for fun, here are 28 Signs you were an English Major
I know the majority of these apply to me!

 

What about you? Did you read anything interesting this week? What are you working on in your writing? I hope you’ll share in the comments, and please feel free to link back to your own blog!

How to make Writing in the Evening Work for You

I posted about the advantages of writing in the morning, now I thought I should give the flip side of the coin equal share.

Writing in the evening can be a challenge, because I find I’m too tired and too distracted by the end of the day. After work there are sometimes errands to run, then there is dinner to prepare, and of course dishes to clean up and after all that, I haven’t got much creative energy left.

But after talking about the advantages of writing at the beginning of the day, I started thinking about the up-side to writing at the end of the day.IMG_0451

Here are some ways to make writing at night work to your advantage:

Use your Commute to Unwind and Brainstorm
I’ve got a thirty minute commute – often longer depending on weather or traffic. This is a great time for me to put on some soft music and unwind from my day. It’s also a great time to mentally visit my current work-in-progress. This way, when I arrive home, I can get started on the ideas I was considering on the ride home.

Note-taking and Planning
At the end of the day, I’m not always my sharpest. Evening writing might be a better time for me to brainstorming ideas, outline and plan. Even if I feel too drained to string sentences together into beautiful prose, I can make notes and get a jump-start on what I will be working on the next day.

Edit
If you can’t stare at a computer screen a moment longer, print a few pages you wrote most recently and edit the good old fashioned way. Your eyes will not only appreciate the break, but you may see things differently than when you’re editing on a computer screen.

Journaling
Writing at night is a great time to reflect on the day. For many people, journaling is a way to get centered- what a better way to end the day? It may even help you fall asleep faster to get the worries and stresses of the day off your mind and onto the page.

Do you write at the end of the day? What do find works best for you when writing at night?

Writing in the Morning

I have found that mornings are the best time for me to write. I discovered that, while I’m not exactly a morning person, I am capable of getting out of bed an hour early every day to write. When I began participating in National Novel Writing Month, I had some of my most productive writing sessions before the sun came up. Evenings, for me, are full of distractions and temptations I can’t resist (read: prime time television) I learned that, if I want to make writing part of my day, mornings may be my answer. And coffee of course.

IMG_0900Though I have not yet read The Artist’s Way, I recently learned about Julia Cameron’s concept of morning pages. Morning pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing done first thing upon waking. I love the idea of making writing the first thing I do in my day and have begun to do my own morning pages.

The writing that comes from these morning pages is more about getting my thoughts onto the page than about producing quality writing. I can record my dreams or my observations about what’s happening outside my window. My hope is that Morning Pages will help me continue to work toward the habit of daily writing.

To learn more about morning pages, visit Julia Cameron Live

Here are some advantages I have found to writing in the morning:

Do it First Thing and it is Done
When you make writing the first thing you do in the morning, you have not yet been bombarded with the distractions the day will bring. Write before you turn on the news, before you check your email, your Facebook page, your Twitter feed. Once you have done some writing done, you can move on with your day knowing you have made this small (or not so small) achievement.

Capitalize on your Dreams
In her book “Writer with a Day Job” Aine Greaney says that creative writing draws on the same subconscious side of our brains as our night dreams – writing in the morning is a smart way to capitalize on these just-awake, or almost-asleep versions of yourself. That bit of advice has stayed with me and is what helped me to get up early to write every morning during NaNoWriMo.

Morning Solitude
Sometimes, it is best to get the writing done before the rest of the household is awake. When I set my alarm an hour early and sit down at my laptop, even the cats are too tired to disturb me. This can be a great solution for busy families who typically have chaotic morning schedules. Early in the morning is a peaceful time when the house is quiet.

What do you like or dislike about writing in the morning? If you do Morning Pages, I would love to hear from you – please tell me about your experiences in the comments below!

Books for Writers: Writer with a Day Job

As writers, many of us dream of the day we’ll be able to give up our day jobs to write full time. We struggle to find time to write between, work and/or school, family, and the other obligations that fill our time. We often find (or make) excuses. How do we find the time to write when writing isn’t our full-time job?

I first read Writer with a Day Job by Aine Greaney in preparation for NaNoWriMo. I was grabbed by the title and subtitle: “Inspiration & Exercises to Help You Craft a Writing Life Alongside Your Career.”

This book lists challenges (read: excuses) writers with day jobs face and ways to overcome them. It offers suggestions to find time to write during your day. For some writers, that might mean waking an up an hour early to write before the workday starts, during your lunch hour, or at the end of the day.

Aine believes the two attributes which distinguish real writers from the wannabe are desire and discipline. It’s not enough to want to write, we must have the discipline to sit down and write day after day. That means we must find the time in our daily lives to grab that writing time whenever we can. Write something, anything in the time you have. Jot notes about your characters, map our your next scene. Make observations about the people/places/things around you.

I love her suggestion to “visit your writing.” On the days we can’t write, she suggests mentally logging out of other tasks to simply think about our writing. The best time for me to do this is on my drive home from my day job. I can think about my next scene, about my characters or work out  a plot problem in those few moments of solitude.

The greatest takeaway from this book for me is that having the discipline to write regularly, doesn’t mean writing dozens of pages every day. It means making the most of our day to find time for creative expression, and to have a productive writing life no matter how busy we may be.

Many of us will never be able to quit our jobs and write full time. Let’s face it, with exception of a very luck few, publishing a book will not allow you to quit your day job. But changing your attitude and the way you approach those extra few minutes of your day can make all the difference to finding balance between work and writing.

Are you a writer with a day job? How do you make the time in your day to write?

Check out my For Writers page to find other great books for writers and resources I have found helpful .

Collecting Ideas

Ideas can come from anywhere. A piece of overheard conversation might make a perfect line of dialogue, or a story in the news can act as a springboard for a plot.

When an idea emerges it may only be a premise, an opening image, a starting point that may need more time before we begin working on it. And so we must remember these ideas to use them or build on them later. How does a writer keep track of them all?

I’ve always been a note-taker. I have notebooks upon notebooks filled with lists and notes. The trouble is keeping track of them all and remembering in which notebook I jotted a particular thought.

The modern version of the notebook is the app Evernote. Unlike my collection of notebooks, which I don’t have on me at all times, I always have my phone with me. I’ve started using this app and have created “Notes” for character names and story ideas.

There are more visual options for keeping ideas, like scrapbooks, collages, bulletin boards or virtual pinboards such as Pinterest. I have boards on Pinterest where I pin photos that inspire my characters and settings.

index-cardsAnne Lamott recommends index cards: “I fold an index card lengthwise in half, stick it in my back pocket along with a pen, and head out, knowing that if I have an idea, or see something lovely or strange or for any reason worth remembering, I will be able to jot down a couple of words to remind me of it.” I’ve used this method too, stashing index cards in my wallet or glove compartment.

I don’t have a singular, organized method for collecting and saving those moments of insight, but I’ll continue to use any method at my disposal to keep those potentially useful ideas from slipping away.

How do you collect your ideas?

Setting Reading Goals

Sometime last year, I became curious about how many books I read in a year. I have never kept track and only had a vague reference of how long ago I’d read a particular book – last year? two years ago?

So I began keeping a list of books I read in 2012 and was shocked at how short the list was. Twelve. Twelve months, twelve books. Was that all, really? Take a look at my 2012 list.

Admittedly, 2012 was a bad reading year and I blamed it on the fact that I spent the majority of that year planning my wedding. But I knew, wedding or not, I simply wasn’t making enough time to read.

Jennifer Kierecki Blog Reading GoalsSo I decided to make a reading goal this year. My goal for 2013 is to read 40 books. It’s not a terribly ambitious goal compared to some, but I chose 40 because that’s a little bit more than 3 books a month which seemed reasonable for me.

I’ll admit I was late to the Goodreads party, but it is a great way to make a keep track of reading goals. It will tell me if I’m behind or on track, and right now, at 18 books under my belt, I’m right on track!

If you like to set reading goals, I recently learned about a blog called A Novel Challenge which is a great place to find all the latest reading challenges. I love the idea of challenging myself to read books by a particular author whose work I am interested in, or books related to a certain topic or genre. Maybe it’s not too late to set a summer reading challenge (or maybe I should stick to one challenge at a time!)

With my reading challenge for 2013 well under way, this may not have been the best time to read Stephen King’s 800+ page  11/22/63. Considering I could read two or three books in the time it will take me to read this one, it may set me back, but I’m enjoying it nonetheless.

I recently wrote about how good readers make good writers. And now that I’m really making time to read as much as possible, I’m finding that it is making a huge impact in my writing. Not only am I writing more, I want to write every chance I get.

I’m a believer now that it isn’t enough for a writer to simply read a book or two here and there. Reading is part of the creative process.

How many books do you read in a year? Do you have a reading goal? Please share your goals in the comments below!