writers tips

21 Tips on How to Write Remotely

work remotelyI first considered this topic at a presentation I attended through WordCamp Orange County. I had several trips coming up and decided to see how to address writing issues while away from my hub. Usually, that’s when I realize I can’t do/find something and say, “If only…” And then I read Diane Tibert’s post about Writers Who Choose to Live Fulltime in RVs. It has only grown since I first pondered it. We Work Remotely is a website devoted to the concept and why it is exactly the right choice for lots of people.

It got me thinking. Truth is, life often interferes with work. Vacations, conferences, PD–all these take us away from our primary functions and the environment where we are most comfortable delivering our best work. I thought about this when I read an article by a technical subject teacher (math, I think)  pulled away from his class for a conference. Often in science/math/IT/foreign languages, subs aren’t as capable (not their fault; I’d capitulate if you stuck me in a Latin language class). He set up a video with links for classwork and a realtime feed where he could be available and check in on the class. As a result, students–and the sub–barely missed him. Another example of teaching remotely dealt with schools this past winter struggling with the unusually high number of snow days. So many, in fact, that they were either going to have to extend the school year or lose funding. Their solution: Have teachers deliver content from their homes to student homes via a set-up like Google Hangouts (but one that takes more than 10-15 participants at a time).

All it took to get these systems in place was a problem that required a solution and flexible risk-taking stakeholders who came up with answers.

As a writer, I wondered: Why can’t I work from the road? In fact, I watched a fascinating presentation from Wandering Jon where he shared how he does exactly that. John designs websites and solves IT problems from wherever he happens to be that day–a beach in Thailand, the mountains in Tibet or his own backyard. Where he is no longer impacts the way he delivers on workplace promises.

Here’s what I came up with that I either currently use or can easily arrange:

  1. Have necessary apps on iPads and smartphones. This includes email, faxing, note-taking, scanning, social media, and all sharing.
  2. Have at least one cloud-based email account (forward your other accounts through this one).
  3. Set your email message to appropriately warn emailers that you may be out of touch occasionally.
  4. Have a cloud-based note-taking program–Evernote, Notability, or Google Keep for example.
  5. If you’re traveling to distant locations, know where co-working environments in case of emergencies (these are places that rent fully-equipped office space by the day/week).
  6. Use eboarding passes–don’t print. Who can find a printer at the beach? Send the boarding pass to your phone.
  7. Have a cloud-based fax program like RingCentral.
  8. Wean yourself from hard copies. It’s easier to do than it sounds.
  9. Use a hot spot connected to your phone. Try really hard not to use public WiFi like Starbucks–very unsafe.
  10. A WiFi repeater is nice in case you’re REALLY remote.
  11. Be brave about solving problems–don’t let setbacks and roadblocks stop you, be accountable to yourself or you won’t get stuff done.
  12. Download books to your iPad/reader/smartphone (not in cloud).
  13. Have a virtual map program like Google Maps.
  14. Have a Find-my-phone program.
  15. Have a Find-my-friends program–so friends can locate you via GPS at any given moment.
  16. Have Skype or Google Hangouts to stay in better touch with your nuclear family.
  17. If possible, have a satellite phone.
  18. Have backup batteries for your phone and iPad. Personal hotspots and Google Maps burn through power. What should last nine hours turns out to be two.
  19. Have redundancy where something is important. My external battery charger died and my iPad ran out of juice on a flight home. I had to read (gasp) a paperback rather than a digital book. Yeah, the paperback was my redundancy.
  20. Check in regularly with friends via social media; they want to know you’re OK.
  21. Be aware of time zones.

If you’re considering remote work, here are some job boards that offer writing jobs done away from an office:

10 Companies with Remote Work

Working Nomads

Remote Writing Jobs

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Quest for Home, Fall 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning


71 thoughts on “21 Tips on How to Write Remotely

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  7. When I’m waiting for my kids in the school parking lot, or before/after school activities and sports, I’m working. Either on a notebook, ipad, or my laptop. Not ideal, not comfy, but you have to if your work schedule is fractured by interruptions!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Lots of organization required but you make it easy with this list. If working around the clock, around the globe, is a necessary part of your life, then this is the must do list. For me, a vacation is just that. I lock the door on everything I’ve left behind and enjoy every moment of where I am at the moment and especially the people I’m with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Everything you say is true, Shari. In my case, as the sole proprietor of my business (books), I was stuck with awkward truths. There’s a trade off when you prefer to work for yourself rather than The Man. Oh well.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t travel much – I seldom leave the comfort of my home – but when I do go, my travel time is usually between 35 hrs and 40. It gets frustrating, and I learned a thing or two. But that list you put up there? Sounds like a lot of work, though simple enough. I also like that you added places that employ remotely.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Some great tips, Jacqui! I’m rather a techie myself, but sometimes prefer that hard copy (in case the phone or tablet runs out of juice. I print my boarding passes at the airport (Or make them help me with stuff, we do pay for these services)…what if my phone quits working? (It has)! I teach two identical classes, one online class where the lecture is created in the F2F class…the online class can stream live or watch later via the MediaSite link. One lecture, two classes–love it!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. The whole, WFH (working from home) is deeply engrained in the software engineering world. I have a laptop configured will all my tools, a VPN connection to the corp network, with redundant apps on my iPhone in case the laptop is having problems. Oh joy! now I can work 24/7 no matter where I am!!!

    I’ve done a similar thing for my personal stuff, including writing – a lot along all your suggestions. The two biggest problems I have working remote is: battery life and access to wifi. Cell phone hotspots and backup batteries help, but at a cost of both money and luggage space (and weight). I did find a cellphone backup battery system that is just a little larger than my cell phone and includes a small built in solar panel. It’s not much, but it keeps my cell phone going when needed.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I got frantic over backup battery when our electricity went down twice in a week. I bought a backup battery for my Surface Pro which is not as easy as it sounds. The connector for a Surface Pro is unique, non-standard, so I had to buy one of those also. Now, I have enough battery for a full additional recharge should I need it.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Jacqui,

    Good tips for keeping creative writing flows on the go. I do the same thing but with my art. I always take my sketch pad or iPad out on days DH has a long doctor appointment. This gives me time to create and it’s a happy way to entertain myself. Thanks for sharing. Have a pAwesome week, my friend!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Great advice, Jacqui. I already use many of these suggestions. I like to be able to check my email away from home, which I can do on my iPad, but other things I prefer to do from my laptop. Like you, I won’t use free wifi and always use my phone or iPad as a personal hotspot for my laptop.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Jacqui, great tips and I use many of these already! I’m a recent convert to eboarding passes, always ensure books are downloaded onto my devices and use icloud! Since I’m often awya from Wifi I’m wondering what a WifI repeater is exactly? Yeah … great that a paperback is there in emergencies!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Thanks for this, Jacqui, most interesting. I’d assumed remote work was ‘working’ somewhere out there, and no doubt it’s where we’re heading, but I’ve been vague about how that happens. There seem to be such a lot of conflicting possibilities. Your list condenses them down nicely. I shall have to look into some of these, and do some thinking.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I like the idea of avoiding rush hour traffic. It’s been years now since I’ve been in the middle of that but I’m sure it’s worse than ever. This sort of remote working would help that horrid situation.


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