Using Google Docs as a Writing Tool

Each of us have preferred writing tools – Word, OpenOffice, a good old pen and paper, Write or Die, a typewriter (I love typewriters).  They appeal to different people for different reasons.  I prefer Word, for the most part, because it’s easiest for me to have things on the computer, though sometimes if I’m having writer block issues, they’ll clear up if I handwrite.

I’m here to offer you an additional tool for your writing arsenal – Google Docs.  As long as you have a Google account this is available to you and I have found it to be a huge help in my writing endeavors.

Why?  Let me tell you.

1. It’s on the internet.
This means you can access it from anywhere that has internet access.  I do most of my story outlining and plot rambling on Google Docs because if I have an epiphany, I can go to the closest computer – whether I’m at my mother’s or on vacation or at a coffee shop or the library – log in, write down my thought, and I’m good to go.  Everything stays in one place.  Gone are the days where I have story notes spread across post-it notes and the backs of envelopes where I can never find what I need again.  (Well, almost gone.)

2.  You can share documents.
I, admittedly, use this function a lot because I do collaborative work often.  It works well for that because, again, both of you can access the document from anywhere (and at the same time, if you’d like).  My partner and I use different colors when we’re having a discussion.  But aside from that, it’s an easy way to share your work.   You can share a document with a beta reader and they can add their comments directly on it.  You can get immediate feedback from anywhere.  Or, if you just want someone to look at it, you can make it Read Only.  You can have Google Docs email it as an attachment.

3. It helps with Organization.
I took a screenshot for you.

I have mine organized by the last time they were modified.  There are various other ways you can organize your files – last time you opened them, alphabetically by title, priority, etc.  I like the modification date because I can tell if they’re the most recent version.  (As with anything, I recommend you back things up.)

You can also create collections – you see I have one called “Writing.”  You can make as many collections as you like and put documents in multiple collections.  For example, on the bottom you see “Shards of Broken Wings plotting.”  It’s currently in the Writing collection, but I could make a separate collection called “Shards” and place that document and the two others I have (an outline and a research document) in it, and then I’d have another level of organization.  It allows you to be as anal as you like.

Now, it’s not perfect.  I had one computer that wouldn’t open more than the first page of a document, and I’ve found that sometimes it likes to put extra spaces or carriage returns when it autosaves.  But it’s been invaluable to me otherwise.

Have any writing tools you would recommend?

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by scribbles on 2011/02/03 at 10:05 AM


    Now that I’ve used to for about two-three months, I’m planning to do a follow-up to my initial Scrivener-glee post on how I use it. But, I’m definitely in the Scrivener-love-camp.


  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kit Campbell, Kit Campbell. Kit Campbell said: Using Google Docs as a Writing Tool: #amwriting […]


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