My personal journey
When I first started writing poetry, I followed the advice of my teacher at the time: to always carry around a small notebook to jot ideas down in.
For a while, that was useful. I’d keep my little “idea journal” in my bag, and scribble down any tidbit of inspiration I happened to have.
Whether I was on the bus, at the park, or in class, I’d keep my handy notebook with me. It’s true: ideas for a poem can find you anywhere, so it’s always best to be prepared.
But years later, my process has changed with the times. While I initially found the act of physically writing my poetic concepts in a paper journal rather romantic, I eventually changed my tune.
Nowadays, I always have my cell phone with me, and instead of writing my ideas in a journal, I simply use Google Drive.
I’m in no way affiliated with, or sponsored by, Google. This is a genuine love letter to my new favourite creative medium.
Why Google Drive?
The best thing about Google Drive is that it’s entirely cloud-based. This means that, no matter where you are, no matter what device you have on hand, you can access all of your documents.
As a student, I remember switching to cloud-based word processors after writing an entire essay in Microsoft Word and having my computer die at the last second.
All of my hard work was gone in a flash. So, I vowed to never let that happen again. Enter Google Drive.
Another great thing about Drive is that it’s completely free to start with. I’ve been using it for years: during high school, university, and beyond, and have never come close to maxing out the storage available in the free plan.
If you’re working with larger files (i.e. for audio/video recordings), you may run into the issue of not having enough free storage. But if you’re a writer mainly using text documents, you should be set for years to come.
As the stereotypes suggest, most artists aren’t rolling in cash. If you’re a new writer on a tight budget, opting for free software like Google Drive can help save you serious money.
That way, you can focus on more important things—like actually writing.
The modern answer to a handy notebook
I find that using the Google Drive app on my phone is a completely seamless way to start writing poetry. If I get inspired while I’m on the go, I can take out my phone and start typing very quickly.
I can get down a rough concept, or even start drafting the first version of a piece. As long as I’m connected to the internet, that file will become synced to my Google account, and I can then access it easily when I get home on my laptop.
This makes it so incredibly easy to continue the editing process. I can start editing on my phone, or wait until I’m on my computer to really dig into the nitty-gritty of the work.
Yes, writing things out by hand feels nice—and I’m not saying that you should stop the practice altogether. But if you have access to a smartphone, I’d recommend testing out Google Drive, even if just for the sake of convenience.
Other added bonuses
Another reason I like to use Google Drive as a writer is that I can access my entire writing history easily, from any device.
If I happen to be at a library and use one of their computers, all of my past poems—finished and unfinished—are easy to download and print. This makes it easy to prep for things like writer workshops.
If I’m heading to a workshop and want to get some hard copies of a piece I’m working on, I can quickly pull it up via my Google account on any nearby computer, print it out, and go on my way. Gone are the days of having to use a flash drive or email myself important files!
Overall, I’m a big fan of Google Drive. As a writer—of both poetry and client work—I love how easy it is to use.
On rare occasions, I do prefer paid programs like Microsoft Word. For example, when I work as a copyeditor—proofreading and commenting on full poetry manuscripts—I like to use Word’s Track Changes feature.
It’s way more comprehensive than Drive’s editing feature, so it helps me deliver the best possible experience for my authors.
But in general, as a creative writer, Google Drive is bound to become your new best friend. Try it out and see what you think!
As always, thanks for reading my Writing Advice column here on my blog. If you like what you just read, be sure to hit the Follow button so that you’re notified of my new, weekly posts.
And if you’re looking for an editor for your work, give me a shout! I’m available at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy writing! 😊