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Out with the old, in with the new ✨
My laptop kicked the bucket. Now what?
As an outdoor, travel and adventure writer, I rely heavily on one tool: my laptop. There is nowhere else that I can type that makes me feel as capable and efficient. To keep up with my brain, and stay in the flow, I need a proper, full-size keyboard. I need a screen big enough that I’m not squinting to see my words. I need my frequently-used files to be organized and easy to find.
I promise if you poll other writers, I won’t sound too high-maintenance. 😂
When my eight-year-old laptop decided to give its last breaths two weeks ago, I found myself in a writer’s no-(wo)man’s-land. I had to toggle between Paul’s laptop and my online backups and download files as needed. I wasn’t logged in to any of my accounts (holy, passwords!). I didn’t have my work-specific apps installed. Two-factor verification became an hourly chime on my phone and I struggled to maintain any sense of a workflow.
MEANWHILE, I received my memoir manuscript back from my copy editor to review. All 274 pages of it. With a request to have it returned to her in a week. 😬
The deadline was doable but without the comfort of my trusty laptop, the process felt like I was driving on square tires. Clunk. Clunk. Clunk.
But, now that book has been returned. We’ve even had a chance to review potential cover art (more on that soon)! And as I stare at my old laptop, now sitting on the floor next to me, I’m feeling a lot of gratitude, even nostalgia, about this machine.
On that laptop, I’ve:
Written an entire memoir.
Penned a children’s book.
Researched and written countless magazine articles.
Edited all five volumes of the Canadian Rockies Annual.
Met 1:1 with creatives.
Emailed, written, planned, designed, and strategized for four creative businesses.
Hosted and attended numerous meetings and webinars.
And more things than I can’t summarize.
I’ve used it so much, the letter “N” is no more.
I got that laptop right around the time my first daughter was born (she turns 9 this month). A lot has happened in my life since then. And as I reflect on all that I’ve created on that old laptop, I’m also aware that I have an opportunity to start fresh with the new one.
At first, I was hung up on the fact that there are some files I lost, at least for now (thankfully 98% of my computer’s contents were backed up). I don’t even know which files I lost, I just know I can’t access them. But in the process of starting anew, I’m realizing that I’ve been trying to recover files that likely won’t serve me as I step into this next phase of my career.
I don’t need those things anymore. Whatever they are.
As I cracked open my new machine today, I decided to start from scratch. No data migration. I’m downloading apps and files as needed, and starting clutter-free. I’m ready to develop a new relationship with this tool and what I’ll create with it in the next phase of my life.
It may sound a bit weird how much meaning I’m putting into a laptop. But this is my life’s work and it’s where I spend a lot of energy. It’s also a way that I’m reframing this next step, like a snake slithering out of its old skin.
The takeaway: I’m wondering if there’s anything you’re holding onto even if it’s not serving you anymore. For me, it’s not just those files that are missing. I know I have some work to do in shedding old patterns, habits, and time-wasters.
The work is never over, but there is always the chance to try again.
Handy backup tools
It’s worth a quick round-up of some of the best tools I use for productivity, and to ensure I don’t lose files along the way.
The computer is fully backed up to CrashPlan.
I use LastPass as a password vault and have it synced across all my Apple devices.
I regularly email myself large files (like my book, articles, etc.) when I’m done working on them for the day. I also upload them to Dropbox. It’s thanks to this habit that at no point in my book writing process was I ever worried about losing work.
I use a 1TB external hard drive for overflow.
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What’s caught my attention lately… ✨
Brené with Karen Walrond on Accessing Joy and Finding Connection in the Midst of Struggle - Oh boy, this was a right place, right time kind of listen. Especially based on the last installment of Field Notes, Navigating privilege and passion when others are struggling. ❤️🩹 A fav quote: “We can’t give what we don’t have.”
Good Burdens: How to Live Joyfully in the Digital Age, by Christina Crook. I’m about 1/3 of the way through this. The idea of certain burdens being ‘good’ — and being the ones we need to focus on — is new for me. I’m curious to see how this plays out in my relationship with social media.
iOS Substack App! Substack is the platform I use for these articles. Their new app lets you read without distractions, find new writers, and more.
Check these out too… 🙌
My Email Newsletter - Updates about my books, projects, and 1:1 coaching.
Lights to Guide Me Home - Join my list to find out more about the travelogue/memoir coming out in Fall 2022.