Trim away the fat with Google Docs and DTP.

This is a work-flow idea for all you writers out there. Use DEVONthink or the like to gather your research and compose notes for your WIP.

When you’re ready to start writing, log into your GMail account and do this:

  1. Add folders in your GMail account for your books notes, research, etc…

  2. Access Google Docs and:

  • Create spreadsheets to keep track of your writing- timelines, agent contacts, book sales, etc…

  • Create a document for your book. Start writing inside Google docs as it supports RTF and Plain Text.

NOTE: You could also create Google Docs for your notes, research,etc… if you don’t want to keep them in your mailbox.

The idea is that you could, theoretically, cut out the ‘middle man’ and use Google Docs to write your entire manuscript as well as keep track of your emails and other related data in one application.

When you’re ready to send/review your manuscript, you can download it as PDF, Text, .doc, Open Office, and HTML. You can also print directly from Google Docs.

Use Scrivener for the final round of drafting, formatting, layout, etc…

Using the method ensures your ‘million dollar’ screenplay is securely stored off-line with all of your relevant data and emails together. The only downside is not always having internet access so you could also use this method as an archive instead. But imagine you’re travelling a lot and don’t want to lug around a bunch of gear while writing. This could be an economical way to write while you’re on the road. After all, these days an internet terminal is never far away.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think of this until I was already well along in my current project so I’m not about to convert everything over to Google Docs. I am, however, using Docs to do my note writing during the day when I’m away from my home computer. Previously, I had been saving crap over to a USB key or emailing to myself as Word Docs but that’s ludicrous given Google’s office capabilities and a real need for security with WIPs.

Sorry for the long post. I hope someone finds this helpful.



Although I have a Gmail account and find it far superior to other email accounts I’ve had dating back to my first in 1992, the idea of using Google Docs to write and store my work is terrifying. I do sometimes keep copies of my work there—spreadsheets that tracked submissions, for instance (but those were immediately replaced with Duotrope), and scribblings, ideas, etc when I would be away using another computer.

The obvious What If here would be what if Google choose to close their Docs and you missed the message. Yahoo did a clearing of their stuff a few months back. Another likely possibility would be a Google server crash/virus.

These All-In-One ideas are great, and if they work for you, even better. I tend to like having my work in more than one place so that if something happened to one storage facility, I’m not out my work and livlihood.

All that said, the Folders idea in any email account is a great way to keep backups.

As in everything of this ilk, YMMV.

I can only guess that you haven’t spent much time using Scrivener. If you had, you would realize that the Google Docs writing environment is pitifully inadequate for “writing the entire manuscript.” Likewise, if you had spent any time using DevonThink, you would realize that Google Docs is pitifully inadequate for storing research materials as well.

If you want offsite storage, there are plenty of alternatives that don’t require abandoning the excellent tools available on the Mac.


Full disclosure: My husband works for Google, though not on Docs.