I get lots of questions about the software I use to write my novels, but very few about the hardware.

Most of my writing is done using MS Word on a Mac desktop, to which I’ve added a second screen. Adding this screen, which was from an old Dell PC, was really easy. I just needed to buy a connector from Amazon, which only cost a couple of pounds, and I was able to double the size of my desktop. Now I can have my notes or emails displayed on one screen while working on my main manuscript on the other. I can also have two different versions of the same file open side-by-side when editing, which is really useful.

When I’m on the go, I use a Hewlett-Packard Stream laptop that I picked up cheap from Tescos a couple of years ago. It runs Windows 10 and, annoyingly for a laptop that’s only a year old, it doesn’t have enough capacity to run Word, or even download updates to Windows 10. At some point, I’m going to have to investigate ways to add some more memory.

What this means is that if I’m going to be away from my desk, I have to save the document I’m working on on my Mac as a RTF file on OneDrive so I can access it on my laptop. This is a bit of a bodge and less than ideal, but I simply can’t afford an Apple laptop.

And just to throw a third OS into the mix, my phone is Android. But if I use Google Keep to take notes, I can access them on my desktop or laptop easily enough. This is handy, because I often wake up in the night with an idea, so I can type it into my phone and know it’ll be there when I log onto Google in the morning.

Of course, all of this is a bit of a jury-rigged workaround. Ideally, I’d have three devices that all ran on the same operating system. But money and convenience mean I’ve had to use what was affordable and available.

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Author: Gareth L Powell


4 thoughts on “Hardware”

  1. Have you ever tried Google docs on your laptop? You can write there and then download it as a Word doc to your desktop.

  2. HP Streams I know about can’t be upgraded. You can add an SD card but… Windows by default treats them as “secondary storage” but you get Windows to treat it as primary storage, which should allow you to update Windows, install apps, etc. SD Cards are slower than the storage on the Stream though.

    If you are using the Stream where there is Wifi or you tether it to your phone, you can use the online version of Word. It has less features, there are limits to the size of file it will handle and needs internet connection to work. The Word app for Android will work offline but is even more limited in feature. I’ve used my phone wirelessly connected to a TV with a bluetooth keyboard sometimes but it’s not really a set up to do serious writing on.

  3. Just curious—out of these, do you have a preferred hardware? I’d never buy a Mac simply because of the price tag. I just purchased a mid-range Lenovo laptop so I can more easily write book reviews on the go. I also like taking notes on my phone (iPhone 7–bought for the screen size for movies. Regret because I have tiny hands, and the phone is so heavy).

  4. For keeping track of your work on different platforms I cannot recommend anything better than Scrivener. It makes automatic full backups in the cloud and you can save several copies. At any time you can export to Word or other software formats for editing and emailing to yourself for safe keeping.
    It is cheap for Windows about 50 pounds.
    For travelling I just bought a 300 euro 13 inch fujitsu with 228 SSD and a great wifi connection. For writing more than enough. It has only 8 G of ram so no gaming just writing. It is very light.
    My main laptop is an HP 17 inch, 16 G ram, 228 SSD and 1 terabyte of spinning disk. Already 4 years old but good nvidea card. Because Scrivener updates both systems you can always start where you left off.

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