tech tips for writers / writers resources / writers tips

10 Tips on Writing Remotely in a COVID-19 World

I’ve been working from home for years but most people haven’t. If that’s you and you haven’t read D.E. Haggerty’s excellent post on how to work from home, do it! I’ll wait…

While you read: I posted this article about a year ago but have updated it for the challenges we now face with #covid19

Truth is, life often interferes with work. Vacations, conferences, PD–all these take us away from our primary job functions and the environment where we are most comfortable delivering our best work. But you do need the right equipment and setup to make that happen. Here’s what I came up with that I either currently use to write from home or can easily arrange:

    1. Have necessary apps on iPads and smartphones. This includes your favorite writing tool, email, fax, scan, social media, and sharing.
    2. Have a digital notetaking program–Evernote, OneNote, Notability, or Google Keep for example.
    3. Have a cloud-based fax program like RingCentral if you need fax. Through these, you upload the doc to fax, and then send to your editor’s fax number. When someone faxes you, they don’t see the difference between the typical fax machine that takes up room on your desktop. Update: I had this for years and just recently cancelled it. Most companies I write for don’t use fax anymore. Email with a scan of the doc is fine.
    4. Wean yourself from hard copies. It’s easier to do than it sounds. My printer broke–well, it wouldn’t print more than one page without jamming. That made it hard to print out documents such as the submittals for my writer’s group. Instead, I used my iPad (or laptop) loaded with the doc as though it was the page. I emailed the file to the submitter rather than give her/him a printed copy. I am now completely used to that–would never go back to the paper-wasting approach. Of course, that was before we couldn’t meet but that’s another story.
    5. If you go somewhere else to write (I was going to say a coffee shop but that’s off the table this month), don’t use a public WiFi. Use a hot spot connected to your phone. Public WiFi like Starbucks is notoriously insecure.
    6. Be brave about solving problems–don’t let setbacks and roadblocks stop you, be accountable to yourself or you won’t get stuff done. I have to say, so many of my fellow writers are risk-takers. They have a problem dumped in their lap and work their way through it. Kudos!
    7. Download books to your iPad/reader/smartphone (not in cloud). This is just to be prepared.
    8. Have a virtual meeting program like MS Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Google Meet, Webroom.net, Big Blue Button, or another. These are for larger groups (like a book club meeting). Family video calls work nicely with programs like Facetime, Skype, or Google Hangouts.
    9. Have backup batteries for your phone, laptop, and iPad. You’re using them a lot more than usual. They’ll run through your power more quickly than you’re accustomed to. And, videos, personal hotspots and Google Maps burn through power. What should last nine hours turns out to be two.
    10. Have redundancy where something is important. For example, my external battery charger died and my iPad ran out of juice. Since then, I purchased a redundant backup power supply.

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

Writers Who Choose to Live Fulltime in RVs.

10 Companies with Remote Work

Working Nomads

Remote Writing Jobs

Click for Amazon Author Page and all of these books

#remotework

#coronavirus


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 NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Against All Odds, Summer 2020. 

63 thoughts on “10 Tips on Writing Remotely in a COVID-19 World

  1. Pingback: Make Your Own Digital Bookshelf | WordDreams...

  2. Backup external batteries are a must! And I have so many books downloaded onto my iPad I’m not sure I’ll ever get through them. Besides, a paper book doesn’t run out of batteries 😀 Also, if we ever get back to going to Starbucks, or the library, I always use a VPN when connected to their wi-fi. Great post, Jacqui!

    Like

  3. Great tips, Jacqui. I’ve been in writing groups, didn’t quite take to them, or it could have been I didn’t like the people. They weren’t very constructive in their comments, very critical of everyone’s writing. That doesn’t work for me, prefer to interact with like-minded people, such as you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great tips, Jacqui. While I’ve heard of some of your resources and apps, I still use Word and folders on my laptop to store notes and organize files. It wouldn’t be able to keep track of all the different programs otherwise. Old school, I know! 🙂

    I’ll check out your job board resources whenever I have time to dig into more work again. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Indeed, Jacqui: If nothing else, this crisis will compel us to experiment with our preferred modes of creativity, allowing for procedural refinement and greater flexibility of our individual practices and processes. Stay healthy and productive!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Not sure what it is like in other parts of the world, but here in Oz, availability of (affordable) office equipment is a bit like toilet paper – there is none. We wanted to buy a new computer monitor for The Hub (he’s been using an old tv but now he has to work at home needed something better) and hunted and hunted until we managed to find one that wasn’t horrendously above our budget. All the stores have signs saying low stock due to work from home conditions, lol.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s interesting. I’m not sure if we’re like that. I haven’t even looked. Not much cheese or meat over here, though that is coming back.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m definitely saving paper this month now that both my classes are fully online, Jacqui. Great advice as usual! I have Verizon and they just gifted us 15GB to use. Mind you, my hubby and I share a 4GB plan. If I needed to hotspot I would have it, but alas, I can’t go anywhere! Hope you are staying safe and staying productive…wait, who am I telling 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I haven’t used my hotspot all month, either! Schools are trying to put mobile hotspots on buses for kids who don’t have internet but the purchase of hotspots is backlogged. Yikes!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Of course they are backlogged. I have been giving more time to my students to reduce their stress! Hopefully the warm weather will start to disarm this flu and we can get back to normal! There’s a nasty rumor some counties have Stay at Home orders through May…NOOOOOOOO!

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’m pretty comfortable working remotely but I hear the worry and concern from so many of my students. It will work.

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  8. Great list. The only thing I’d add is pay attention to the ergonomics of your workstation. I have problems with that so a few years ago my employer had a ergo consultant come to the office and help me get my desk and chair setup just right so I could work without issues. The first few days at home I realized I hadn’t done the same thing for my work at home office. I ordered the few things I need on-line and now my office is so much better.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. #6, 8, and 9. Well, i’m one of those people married to the house 😉 so my work space didn’t change. But the phone bill, oh my, that one is going to shoot off the roof this month because 1- not everyone has those online apps one can call and talk for hours and not feel the consequences at the end of the month 2- batteries (of anything) just can’t keep up with all the use.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. writing itself is a lonely profession like a long distance runner. I think most people do work from the isolation of their homes or quiet work spaces without any interaction or disturbances. I find my life is always interfering with my writing. Even now while reading, my grand daughter has come and disturbed me twice and soon I will have to give up altogether as it is time for dinner!
    https://mumbaionahigh.com/2020/04/dealing-with-employees.html

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I took your advice for backups on my computer and purchased Acronis. The computer I had last year was dying. I was afraid I would lose my data. I purchased 1 TB of Acronis in December 2019 and transferred my data to their cloud. In January 2020 I purchased a new Dell desktop then with the help of their customer service I transferred my Acronis account to my new computer. I download the files I need. Acronis updates my backup automatically every few days. Thanks Jacqui for your tech help.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s wonderful! I just switched from Carbonite to Acronis. I find them easier, I get a mirror image, and I can backup to an air-gapped hard drive at my home–though I like storing it in their cloud also. Thanks for sharing your story, Grace.

      Liked by 1 person

    • They come with (the horrendous price tag of) iPhones–what phone do you have? I think schools are purchasing portable hot spots for students without WIFI. I would love to talk to someone who has those.

      Like

  12. Thanks for sharing the tips. I’ve been working at home for five years now and am surprised at how much I like it. Having enough social contact, which of course you can’t do now, is important in the long-term too.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Thanks Jacqui for tips. For those who can continue to work from home, this is a boon. I hear that companies eg are beginning to realise that this has many and productive benefits .. and as you say Zoom Skype etc is a wonderful way of face to face communication. Stay safe, keep well …

    Liked by 2 people

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