The Luddite Technologist: Google Documents – The Ninja Writer’s Best Friend

Although I’m by no means a technology buff (says Greg as he collects a steady paycheck as a Microsoft SDET), I’ve done technology columns in the past. At previous jobs, I’ve been referred to as a Luddite for my reluctance to embrace the newest hot sexy piece the kids are carrying around (bought my first SmartPhone in December, but I’m sure they’ll find something else to make fun of now.) I tend to ask more whether the gains in utility justifies the device’s learning curve, a response which invariably gets parried by, “Who cares? THIS SHIT IS AWESOME!”

But I care. One more device to track, find a charger for, and pay the fees on. Hooray? My way works fine, and doesn’t require me to sign a license saying “they” are allowed to shiv my ass for precious Greg-gold.  As mother used to say, “An unshivved ass is a happy ass.”

And so I miss out on awesome new developments like Google Drives (and more importantly for me, Google Docs.)

Greg’s new favorite work-buddy.

Google Drive’s creates files accessible anywhere; a similar revolution for my writing that Anki is over learning facts using physical flash cards.

A downside to my current lifestyle is that I have a job…

Right. Downside.

This means that I have two places where I work: My study (dining table) at home, and my day job’s office. In my average day, I’m not constantly busy — no one at work is. Heck, even if someone’s busy for the full eight, they can still write at lunchtime. But I’m not about to pack a USB drive with me — at least not after I lost fifty short stories to a mud puddle — and so the downtime of my day’s best hours are left to waste like so many metaphors about grain. My workaround has been to write my blogs during downtime and finish them up at night. If I wanted to write my fiction, I’d use the Private Post feature on WordPress to do it. This feature is clunky, cumbersome, and prone to leakage, but it brings me a degree of comfort: A mud-puddle won’t destroy my work, and besides, thanks to teenage years writing fan-fiction about my characters on Shadowbane’s forums, and an early 20s squandered on my Warcraft roleplaying server’s Realmportal, browser windows are my writing’s native location. Then came LiveJournal, and finally WordPress. I began to write from a Word document in college, but it makes my writing feel college-y; dry, academic, unexciting. You know what combines the best of both? Google Drive, my bandersnatch.

I hate saving documents locally because I can only access them locally. And although I’m admittedly skeptical of Cloud technology still in what I view as its infancy, Google Drive is kind of like having three good physical copies: One at work, one at home, and one in the bank, all of them instantly synced with each other. Amazing.

So now my blog doesn’t have private posts cluttering it, my laptop’s clean from all those different versions I had yet to reconcile, I have folders to separate out different documents. How could it get better? Well… I can share access with my friends, set to read-write or read. That’s a pretty awesome tool for a writer who has several beta-readers.

And for ninja writers (those of us who write during downtime, rather than having the luxury of vast swaths of quiet uninterrupted writing time), we can access Google Docs from any computer, or, if you’re a fancypants sorcerer, by smart phone. All in all, these benefits strike me as totally worth it. But don’t take my word for it, give it a try.

Never mind the fact that Google is an evil empire that’s set to rule the world. Think of the productivity.


Gregory Blake is a fancypants sorcerer with a completely unshivved ass. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and of course, on the blog you’re reading right now, my bandersnatch.

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