Many of this year’s client newsletters include articles revolving around the theme of “memories.” When we talk with our clients, we realize that many of you have done and experienced some amazing things. We’d be happy if you’d share in our “Memories” theme by telling us about some of your memories. If you’ll allow us publish them in our client newsletter, that’d be great.
Previous Articles on Memoirs
Our April newsletter contained an article on why to write your memoirs. In the June newsletter, there was an article on how to start writing. You can find the full versions of those articles on our blog (or contact us for a copy).
Use a Computer
The most important technology advice for writing memoirs is to use a computer. There several advantages of using a computer instead of pen and paper or a typewriter: 1) you can easily insert, move, delete and search what you type electronically, 2) you can easily make copies of your memoirs to preserve them against disasters, theft or loss and 3) you can easily share them with others (note that you likely should not do this if you make negative comments about identifiable people in your memoirs – the last article in this series will discuss the legal issues).
The simplest technologies to use are the Notepad application on Microsoft Windows-based computers or the TextEdit program on Apple Macs. Both can save your memoirs in a plain text format (i.e. no special fonts or formatting such as underlining or bolding). This is all you need to get started: these programs are like starting with a blank piece of paper. Using a simple format ensures that your writing will be accessible for a long time, on a variety of computers.
Your memoirs, like all the important files on your computer, should be backed up (copied somewhere else) in case your computer stops working, is stolen or gets damaged. A simple way of backing up your files is to manually copy them to external storage. A popular external storage device is the flash drive. These are memory modules that plug into your computer’s USB port. Small flash drives are available for under $15 at any computer store. The problem is to remember to make those backup copies regularly. Also, you should store the backup flash drive separately from the computer. Keeping them apart means a single disaster doesn’t destroy or damage both your computer and your backup. Attaching your flash drive to your key chain is one way to acheive that.
Instead of saving your memoirs on your computer and having to worry about file formats and backups, it might make sense to write a blog (short for “Web log”, like an online diary or journal). There are several websites that let you create a blog. Some popular ones are wordpress.com, wix.com and blogger.com. Each of them offers a free tier of service. The advantage of blog websites is that they handle backups for you and they allow you to publish your memoirs to the Internet in the click of a button. The disadvantage is that it takes time to set them up correctly and, by default, they publish everything (which you really want to avoid, if your memoirs contain comments that portray specific people in a negative light).
Another disadvantage of these platforms (especially blogger.com, owned by Google) is that typing or copying your memoirs into their website makes your private information available to them. This allows them and their partner websites to show advertising customized and targeted at you, which can be very disconcerting. For example, if your memoirs discuss music you remember enjoying, ads for recordings of those very songs may begin to pop up on websites you visit!
The Middle Road
Another technology that you can use is cloud-based file storage. Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and others provide websites within which you can create, edit and store files. The privacy concerns about targeted advertising remain. But these file storage systems are much easier to set up than a complete blog and the risk of inadvertently sharing something you don’t intend is almost non-existent. To reduce the privacy issues, sign up for a new e-mail account that is specifically and exclusively for your memoir writing and use that to access the cloud-based file storage.
About the Author
Anil Balaram has been Ideal Carpet Cleaning’s part-time Marketing Manager since 2015. Anil was born in Montreal, raised in Ottawa and works full-time as a software engineer. He and his wife have three children.