The itinerant author explains the role that technology plays in her working life.
I distinctly remember claiming that mobile phones, Facebook and Twitter wouldn't catch on. So I've learned I should probably make investments in those things I'm pessimistic about and then hop shamelessly onto the bandwagon.
The earliest piece of tech I remember using was a computer club at my local library where I'd go to play 'Pong Game', but I wasn't proficient until my first office job at 24. Once a kindly office colleague showed me how to attach a document to an email there was no stopping me.
I've been travelling frequently for years now and so try to keep things minimal. I wrote my first novel longhand in exercise books and then typed them up in cyber cafes in Ho Chi Minh City when my laptop got stolen in China. I used Flickr, and the pictures I collected from my journey across Siberia, as a huge chunk of my research for my second novel. My third book was largely written on an ancient Barbie-pink laptop hurriedly bought from a Lisbon secondhand shop. But I've almost always had a smartphone for Instagram (food), Twitter (books), Facebook (pals and foreign colleagues), Goodreads (reviews) and Tumblr (blogs). More recently I treated myself to a MacBook Air (and good insurance!) - it was the most money I've ever spent in one go but worth every penny so far.
Tech is fantastic for research when you're out and about. There are so many ways of capturing moments now - Instagram for images and video, Facebook and Twitter for tiny observations, Tumblr for longer thoughts and ideas. I use my phone to write little notes too.
I love social media. I use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Wordpress and Goodreads. I've got work, ideas, encouragement, a kick up the backside and much more from those platforms. Writing, traditionally so isolating, is suddenly highly sociable and you still get to wear pyjamas all day. Suddenly every writer knows every writer wherever you are. You meet a writer at a literary festival in Croatia and then have a chat about what's best on toast three months later. Social media opens borders and offers so much but I do also have 'Freedom' installed - to turn off my internet and distractions for periods when I have a deadline.
In terms of inspiring websites, Brainpickings always has something thought provoking on it. Likewise, It's Nice That for visual inspiration you might not otherwise find. I also really admire what The Pool are doing at the moment. Also, the many book bloggers who work tirelessly and passionately in their own time to bring good books to thoughtful audiences. Some of my favourites are: Savidge Reads, The Writes of Woman, Lonesome Reader, Adventures with Words, Writer's Little Helper, Utter Biblio, Workshy Fopp and Me and My Big Mouth as well as many more.
When it comes to software, I really loved Scrivener until my own misunderstanding of the backing-up system meant I lost 25k words of my novel in the aforementioned Lisbon Laptop Debacle.
My worst tech habit is the cyber loop: go to Facebook, go to Twitter, go to Gmail accounts, have a look at Instagram - refresh.
I do still like to write longhand, though. It's not always practical or fastest but I think writing by hand produces a different sort of prose. I also just find it so bloody pleasing to put actual pen and ink to a beautiful notebook.