Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Are Your Writing Tools Versatile?

I try to avoid acquiring single-function items because they are usually good for one thing:  taking up space.  Ask anyone with a bread maker or an indoor grill.

Actually, some items can function exceptionally well at a single task and enrich our lives.

Take the Rubik's Cube.  I spent countless hours feeling challenged, frustrated, and ultimately fulfilled.

Yet, it's still a 'single-function' puzzle.  I needed variety.  So I ended up buying scores of different 'single-function' puzzles.  Each with a different twist (obvious pun).  It wasn't until I discovered the Rubik's Revenge (4x4) that I became enamored with its versatility.

The Swiss Army Knife of Puzzles

I expected the Rubik's Revenge to be more complex than the Rubik's Cube.  It may not be apparent at first, but it has four mobile center pieces on each of its side.  They are not fixed to a center axis like the Rubik's Cube.

What I did not expect was the Rubik's Revenge is actually three puzzles in one.

In addition to its four slices on each side, the Rubik's Revenge can be operated as two other puzzles shown above.  So, with this single puzzle I can emulate three totally different puzzles.

Okay, I did not discover the Grand Unified Theory of physics, but it was still a pleasant surprise.

Another Versatile Tool

I recently discovered another versatile tool:  the Kindle.

I wanted an eReader specifically for one thing, and one thing only:  to read.  Strictly a single-function item, right?  I did not want a tablet computer.  I did not want games.  I did not want the Internet.  I wanted the eInk variety.  The small Kindle, WiFi only.

But I discovered the Kindle is much more than a simple eReader for short story collections and novels.

If you are the type of person who likes to read in a jazzy coffee shop but instead find yourself reading on a bustling commuter train, you can use the built-in MP3 player to listen to your favorite music.
You can also create an eInk photo album on your Kindle.  Create a folder called "pictures" on your Kindle while it's connected to your computer.  Inside that folder create a sub-directory named "Album 1" with picture files copied into it.  Once you disconnect your Kindle and navigate to the Home screen, press Alt+Z.  Your new album of photos should now be listed in your library.

The Kindle can also be an extra USB memory drive in a pinch if a friend or colleague is trying to get you electronic data.

Not Just For Reading eBooks

The Kindle is great for reading documents, too.  I stare at a computer screen all day for work, so I avoid reading on a back-lit screen as much as I can.

It's great for the editing process.  I will transfer my WIPs and my critique partners' pieces to the Kindle for the initial read-through.  Of course I wouldn't do a complete red-line on the Kindle, but I do capture some important notes so I won't forget them later.

For my day job, I will also use my Kindle to read sales proposals and technical requirements documents.  It not only saves printer ink, but also saves my eyes.

Finally, if you are one to store your favorite recipes in a document on your computer, consider storing and viewing them on your Kindle.  They'll be quickly at hand and you can bookmark your favorite recipes.

Although I originally thought of the Kindle as a single-function item, it is more versatile than that.

What reading or writing tool is more versatile than you thought at first?


  1. Very interesting! I've never thought to use my Kindle to read my own writing. I'll have to figure out how to do that . . .

    I don't have any fancy writing tools, but I hear you on the single function ban. I refuse to buy single-function kitchen gadgets, my home is just too small for that.

    Great post, as always!

    1. Thanks Lori :-) I love reading my own work on my Kindle. It makes me feel all 'official'.

      It's really easy do it, too. If you use the USB connector you simply transfer your file from your computer into a folder on your Kindle called, "documents".

      There is also a method where you can email documents to a @kindle email address. Amazon will translate the document for free and load it onto your device over WiFi. You'll have to be careful though because if you have a Kindle 3G there may be a fee per document.

    2. Thanks for the tips! I'm going to try that, now. I'm reading manuscripts for a publisher, so if I can put them on my Kindle that will save my poor eyes.

      Official, indeed! Can't wait to try this. Thanks!

      P.S.My current writing tools are paper and a felt-tip pen. I'm doing revisions, and I feel like a dinosaur.