|By Antonio Litterio
Keep copies of all your work. Set your computer system to do this automatically, every thirty minutes or so. It will remember, so you don’t have to! Have a separate memory stick for each day of the week. At the end of each working day, copy the latest version of your work in progress onto the appropriate stick. Keep them together on a key-ring, and keep them with you at all times. As an extra safeguard in case your external memory gets corrupted, lost or stolen, email your work in progress to yourself once every seven days as a backup. If you use a MAC, “save As” a word document too. That way, you’ll always be able to access your WIP via email, on whatever form of computer you have to hand. Never rely on keeping things wholly in the cloud, just in case.
Use all your senses to gather inspiration, then store it in ways that will help you to get creative. Take photos (getting permission where necessary) and upload them onto Pinterest andTumblr, for example. This will provoke all sorts of reactions from potential readers, and you can use these to further inspire your work. You can keep the boards secret if you like, or fully engage your social network. Bookmark helpful sites online, but use metadata (tags and key-words) so you can find things again easily. There’s so much interesting stuff on the internet, the tendency to save links and articles in the same way a demented squirrel hoards nuts. A good system for retrieving them makes the difference between useful information, and endless time-wasting searches.
Make use of your local library. They need all the support they can get, so the staff there are always delighted to help. They do far more than simply lend out books nowadays. Ours holds talks and creative writing classes, offers a free audio book service, lends ebooks, and has a telephone book-club, so the housebound don’t miss out. They work with family history and local studies groups, as well as subscribing to wide range of newspapers, magazines so you don’t have to! The ability to book online time means you’ll still have access to a computer if yours is out of action. You can also use the library’s facilities to scroll back through back-copies of printed media, which is bound to give you dozens of ideas. You can go on to check facts and figures with the library’s reference section at the same time. Most library services are free, or easily affordable, so a trip to your local branch is always a bargain.
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