While at the Literacy Researchers Association conference in San Diego I once again had the privilege of presenting in our digital texts and tools study group. The focus of my session on the last day of the conference looked at using online tools to promote collaboration while writing. That led me to think about the process and tools I use as I write.
I shared with the participants in my session that the first thing needed is an examination…and reconfiguring of your work process. We’ve been trained that as soon as we need to write, we open up Microsoft Word…and attack away at that blank page. That might have been necessary when I needed to submit dissertation drafts to my advisor…but now…that system doesn’t work for me anymore.
When starting on a research and writing project, I first need to consider who is working on the project…and what is the ultimate output. For most of my writing, thinking, research, curation, etc….I use Evernote. I’ve detailed my use of Evernote in previous posts here. I use Evernote on my phone, iPad, and MacBook Pro in writing up blog posts, drafting out initial ideas, etc. I find that Evernote is a great tool for this because I can quickly get to a note I’ve been brainstorming about. I can pull up my phone and review, add to, or edit a note when that spark of creativity pops up. Additionally, I can bookmark sites, copy/paste text and annotate, or just keep sections of my notes together while working on a project. Over the past month I’ve used Evernote as I’ve researched how to replace the bumper on my Wife’s car…whether or not to buy an Apple TV, Roku, or Raspberry Pi….and what skills are involved in online content construction. As you can see, these notes and drafts are all for the most part focused on my use, and don’t go much further.
If I have to write something collaboratively with others, or will need to submit in a Word doc at some point…I use Google Docs. I’m currently working on two chapters for a book on writing and technology. One of these I’m writing by myself, but I will send it off to colleagues at some point to have them review before I send it out. The second chapter is being worked on with two other colleagues. Housing this work in Google Docs allows me to quickly share a link and allow others to edit without emailing Word docs back and forth. I still will need to make final edits and formats in Word before sending off…but it is less of a hassle in the writing process. As my work process evolves…and Google Docs gets better…I could foresee myself not using Word at all…but I’m not yet at that point.
As you can see my work flow and process is built around the cloud, and having access to my work from any one of the tools that I use daily. As time progresses, I may investigate moving the writing portion of my work in Evernote over to Google Docs…but trying to organize all of those “dead end” written pieces that will go no where would drive me nuts.