This is my portable office. See the sticky note above the Tardis that says “Back up your work!”? I put that there because I have twice forgotten to bring my flash drive home from work. D’oh! The second time was this past Friday, but luckily the shop guys were working so I knew the door would be open. I sneaked in and got it before anyone knew I was even there.
Oh, before I forget, with the recent bad weather, you might want to revisit my post about storm safety, complete with the scary derecho story. Okay, back to the subject.
I already did a post about home offices and workspaces, but now I want to talk about those outside the house. If you’re lucky enough to be writing full-time (well, we can dream, can’t we?), eventually you’re going to go stir crazy looking at the same walls all day.
For those who can’t or don’t like to work at home all the time, numerous places abound to plug in your computer and peck away at your latest WIP. They include the following.
Most libraries these days have study areas where you can hook up your laptop and work in relative peace. They may even have wi-fi. I haven’t checked it out, but I plan to now that I have a smaller computer with a longer battery life. There’s a branch downtown right next to the second item on my list,
A coffee shop
More coffee places are asking that you please purchase something if you plan to hog a table for any length of time. When pulling a marathon editing session or trying to beat a deadline, you probably will chug a few cappuccinos or even some espresso and pound down a muffin. But please, try not to take advantage of their generosity.
And remember, if you log into the public wi-fi, it may not be secure, so be sure to practice safe surfing and don’t use any sensitive passwords. See a link here for how to protect yourself when using public wi-fi.
Park or other public area
You might not find wi-fi here and depending on the neighborhood, may have to chain your laptop to your body. But on a nice day, there’s nothing better than a shady spot to work, with a nice breeze cooling you and your computer. Just don’t fall asleep! If you just want to go outdoors, you can stay in the yard if you have one, or your apartment complex might have a common area outside.
A friend’s place
Your buddy, boyfriend or girlfriend may be more than willing to let you hop on his or her internet if you’re hanging, but make sure that it’s either secure or you take pains to protect your computer from unwanted intrusion.
Some people like to work in malls or other busy public places so they can people watch. I think it would be hard to concentrate there. It’s up to you.
Your portable office should have a few things to make working away from home easier.
Charged battery or power cord
In fact, take the cord. You never know when you’ll need it.
Software you use regularly
You probably already have an office suite on your machine, either MS or Open Office. I like to use something a coworker told me about called PageFour. It’s a neat little word processor that allows you to merge chapters and import Word documents. The license isn’t expensive, updates are included and you can put it on a couple of machines.
I hate touch pads, so I have a wireless mouse. I keep a mouse pad in my bag also, in case I end up working on a surface the mouse doesn’t like. Also good are headphones so I can listen to music without bothering anyone, a game in case I get bored or I’m trapped at the airport, and a lightweight stand to elevate my machine and make typing easier.
My flash drive goes with me too as a backup device. I wear it on a lanyard around my neck so it can’t get lost or stolen. You can back up stuff on Google Docs too, and access it from anywhere you have Internet, or just email stuff to yourself.
Don’t forget a small notebook to jot things down in when you don’t have the computer up, and business cards if you have them. Freelance opportunities lurk around the most unexpected corridors.
It’s good to get out once in a while and shake up your brain. You might even see or hear a vignette that would make a great scene.