Dropbox: New Favorite Writing Tool for the Writer on the Move

dropbox-150x150My writing discovery of the month is a little tool called Dropbox. Dropbox is a tool that automatically syncs files stored in the Dropbox folder (on your computer) with the Dropbox server. It’s not just an online backup tool, though: the magic of Dropbox is that you can access—and edit—these files from numerous computers.

So, for instance, I keep my files on a desktop machine at home, but also like to work at my laptop at the local coffee shop. Every time I headed out, I needed to copy the most recent version of my files to my laptop or a USB drive, or email them to myself, so I could access them remotely. With Dropbox, I always have the right file with me, and changes are automatically uploaded to the server even before I return home.

photoI also like to keep a copy of my WIP (work-in-progress) on my iPhone. What can I say? Ever the optimist, I hoped to work on edits and rewrites while waiting for the dentist or in line at the drug store—and although a phone’s tiny screen and keyboard aren’t ideal for typing in long passages, they’re fine for making notes of ideas and corrections I want to make when I return my desk (or coffee shop table). And my iPhone is SOOO much more portable than that hanging divider that doubles as my plotting board….

documents_to_go_iphoneMy original solution here was to sync my WIP using another great app called Documents to Go; however, it suffered the same drawbacks as writing on the laptop while my primary files resides at home, on a desktop machine. I had to remember to sync files manually before I headed out of the house—or email them to myself—or call home and ask my ever-patient husband to dig through twenty layers of file folders to find the most recent document and email it to me while I’m out of the house. (Not that I would ever do such a thing, but if I did, I’d obviously owe him lots of raised glazed doughnuts and a backrub.)

Dropbox, however, syncs directly to my iPhone. The latest version of my book is always with me, so I can re-read my rewrites during kids’ violin lessons, waiting at the doctor, sitting at traffic signals, and so on. (Just kidding. About one of those….no telling which!) If I want to make notes, I can open the file in Docs to Go without worrying about copy the right files to the right places before I leave the house.

Staying immersed in a rewrite (or a first draft, for that matter!) is even trickier in the midst of holiday travel, shopping, visitors, family, and all the other chaos and fun that descends this time of year—but having my writing with me, ready to review when I get a spare moment, means that I’m ready to dive in when I do find a few precious minutes to write. Dropbox helps me do that. Hope you find it helpful, too!

:-) Cheryl

Note: both Dropbox and Documents to Go are available on multiple platforms—check out their websites for more info.

The hidden price of "productivity" every writer needs to know - www.cherylreif.com

You’ve probably read the same tips I have: Have a smart phone? Check Facebook while standing in line at the post office! Respond to Twitter messages while waiting for your dentist! Catch up on your news feed while sitting on the pot! For years, I thought the path to increased productivity was to squeeze in MORE–more […]


  1. A Beer for the Shower says

    Working in separate cities, Bryan and I use Dropbox all the time.

  2. Cheryl Reif says

    It's darned handy!

  3. Ellie Great says

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2011!

  4. Cheryl Reif says

    Thanks, Ellie!

  5. StaceyW says

    I just discovered Dropbox myself thanks to a new corporate client I've taken on. I'm able to connect right in with the company's server.

    You're right – it is a great tool. I hadn't thought about the benefits of using it personally, but I suppose I could. Hmmm… thanks!

  6. Cheryl Reif says

    I hope you find it helpful!

  7. Rebecca says

    I love Dropbox for so many more things than just writing. But now that I can seamlessly sync my Scrivener wip file (draft and notes) to my iPad via PlainText, I can't imagine living without it! :)

  8. Cheryl Reif says

    Rachel: thanks for stopping by :). Hey, how do you like working on your iPad? Do you actually type in story or is it better for reading, minor edits, etc.? I have to admit, the portability of the iPad is very tempting….