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Living the Google-Enhanced Writing Life

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Google's impact on writers is growing. The dawn of the Internet search engine forever changed the way writers conduct their daily lives. Today Google's influence and assistance is expanding at a phenomenal rate. I confess: I have become Googlized.

It began innocently enough. Tuesday I began the day firing up my computer while sipping my first cup of coffee and indulging in my latest writerly fantasy. My inbox bulged with its usual conglomeration of junk mail, group posts, friend's emails, business matters, writing-related messages, and Google Alerts. Nevertheless, I intended to write.

I'm still not sure how it happened — my brain in its usual morning slumber — but somehow my fingers tripped me onto a site that asked if I wanted to try Google's Desktop. It was innocuous enough. I obeyed and initiated the download. That was 48 hours ago. Today I am a fully Googlized writer.

Google Desktop and its seductive mate, iGoogle, kept me enchanted for hours. Think cyber-office on steroids. My desktop now hosts the best 4-tabbed To-Do list gadget ever and it sits on top so I can sporadically — 'cause that's how my mind works nowadays –add to my lists. This phantom cubicle contains the to-dos for my computer guy, daily writing goals, reminders, and calls. All I do is click and the next list appears. The sidebar? It's an explosion of tools divinely inspired to feed my inner office junkie and lure my muse out to play.

But wait, I'm not done.

There is this thing called iGoogle. It's like a ramped up, totally personalized Google Desktop. Now an array of gadgets inhabits my iGoogle home page and tabs (additional pages, what a great feature). My homepage reflects my general needs. (Yes, they're all that necessary.) One tab is dedicated to my main writing project (the novel) and another to general writing. A fourth is for pure reading pleasure (it’s research, okay?). I have stop watches, countdowns, alarms, project trackers, activity trackers, progress bars, and stickies — let me tell you about stickies. I never knew there were so many types of note-taking gadgets available. Writers embrace note-taking but its management? That’s another issue. With no end to styles, any writer should be able to find the perfect cyber-sticky. (Have I told you before how much I adore Post-its?)

Of course there are ways to have quick access to Outlook, documents, links, and RSS feeds. But more playful spirits will laugh in delight at the gadgets that feed your inner child and tickle your muse. You can get lost for hours in a Google Gadget jungle. I know. iGoogle. It’s a writer's wonderland.

The result? A vortex of organizational energy swirled pulling my Outlook into view. I've been ill for several weeks; before that, out of town for three; and the two months prior spent dealing with a critically ill dog that required daily visits to the vet. My unread messages had burgeoned to a whopping 18,000. It was time. I attacked the keyboard and waged war. I downloaded and downloaded and downloaded. I set up folders, created rules, and redistributed the lot. Emails flew. Junk mail exploded. In 10 hours I dealt with 25,000 emails.

I wanted more. I searched the web eager for tools, tips and strategies until I finally stumbled onto Gmail. Wow. Let me sing its song. It's perfect for a writer and why not? Gmail is set up to operate intuitively; writers are intuitive creatures. With the labeling and filtering system, their end-of-time archiving, and email subject conversation flow feature, it's a writer's perfect marriage of technology, inspiration, research, and organization. Imagination is the writer’s only limitation. I opened an account.

Now let's get real. Why spend days downloading, researching, and setting up systems when all that’s needed is the discipline to put your butt on the chair, start up the computer (or pick up a pen, pencil, and paper), and write?

Overkill? (Shrug.) Maybe. (You should see me skate the aisles at Office Depot — this was free.) But thanks to my obvious addiction, I now have tools that will make my writing life infinitely more manageable and my writing happily more productive. The mountain of ignored emails simply vanished. Incoming is now a snap. My desktop helps me develop my goals and intentions. My ability to focus is sharpened. When I marry my Gmail account to my Outlook, life will be complete.

What about you? Are you a fully-Googlized writer?

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About Vikk

  • http://elainelgalit.com Eli

    Amazing article, Vikk. Sounds like you are doing great with Google. Come back in the future and let us know how this is all working out for you.
    Thanks for the info.
    Eli

  • Che

    I guess you could say I’m a Google-enhanced writer, though its more like Google-distracted (though I might go as far as to say Google-addicted).

    Hint: Don’t put game-widgets on your iGoogle.

    Enjoyed the article!

  • http://vikk.typepad.com/down_the_writers_path/ Vikk Simmons

    Hi Eli,

    Thanks for reading. Yes, Google and I are in our honeymoon period. Let’s hope it lasts a long, long time.

  • http://vikk.typepad.com/down_the_writers_path/ Vikk Simmons

    Well, Che, now that you mention it I did break my major rule and installed one small gadget. I never play games, not even Solitaire, on my computer but I did find a small match up memory game that I could put on the desktop and I did do that. However, I also found the Limiter gadget that basically acts like a timer to “limit” my time spent improving my memory–or trying to retain it. That’s on the desktop, too, but I even have that one on top all the time. I use it to time how long I stay at the computer since I have to worry about muscle spasms.

    Glad you enjoyed the article. Writing it was fun.

  • Thelma

    You have me hooked. As soon as I get back from vacation, I intend to Googlize my life.

  • http://vikk.typepad.com/blog_trek/ Heather Ames

    This would get me into too much organizational trouble. I don’t do well with too much “stuff.” I would be organizing my day into oblivion! But for those who love a tidy desk, it sounds like a great tool.

  • http://vikk.typepad.com/down_the_writers_path/ Vikk Simmons

    Returning from a well-rested vacation, Thelma, is an ideal time to Googlize your life. Have fun.

  • http://vikk.typepad.com/down_the_writers_path/ Vikk Simmons

    Heather, Heather, the beauty of Google is that you can be as minimalist as you wish.

  • http://philobiblon.co.uk Natalie Bennett

    This article has been selected for syndication to Advance.net , which is affiliated with newspapers around the United States, and to Boston.com. Nice work!

  • http://vikk.typepad.com/down_the_writers_path/ Vikk Simmons

    Thanks for the syndication, Natalie.

  • http://www.spunkandbite.com Arthur Plotnik

    Any brain that can handle 25K e-mails and still find the cells to construct so lively, pointed, and useful an article is my kind of cerebellum. I’m going to take a goggle at Google-ization. But one more thought from this writer and trained librarian: Embracing librarian-level organization is a good thing, but don’t let it keep you or anyone from the libraries themselves, where knowledge and information go worlds beyond neat and cool.

  • http://www.marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    i like a pad and a pencil myself.

  • http://vikk.typepad.com/down_the_writers_path/ vikksimmons

    Hello Art,

    Thanks for taking the time to read my article and for posting such kind comments. Any praise from you is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    Oh yes, the library still has its place. The librarians are valuable sources and helpers and are often overlooked by far too many writers. Online research often acts much like a first draft. I do buy the majority of major research books because I want them when I need them and because I’m such a bibliophile. But libraries hold great primary source material and offer a free and easy way to review books before you buy. Plus the whole place is full of fellow bibliophiles.

  • http://vikk.typepad.com/down_the_writers_path/ vikksimmons

    The pad and pencil is a time-honored tradition that will never die, Mark. At this point my writing encompasses pretty much all types of writing from the old lead to the new digital. Sometimes a writer just needs that mind-to-hand connection to make the words come. Thanks for reading and for leaving a message.

  • http://www.buyingone.com Christopher Rose

    Vikk, please remove your email address from the comments box.

    Thanks,

    Comments Editor

  • Nisha

    Wow, your article makes me cringe in shame. My Googlization has grown little beyond primitive Googling/searching. I’ve been avoiding the many prompts to download Google desktop. But now, after reading your article, maybe I just will make the jump.

  • http://none jake

    funny aritcle, i dont know if its that serious though…