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A Simmer’s Best Friend: Google Drive, Part 2

Last time, we discussed a couple of the benefits of using Google Drive for writing collaboratively with others and keeping a “sim bank” of your characters’ background sims and long-term joint posts (JPs) with other characters. This time, I’d like to expand a little more on what makes Drive such a useful, versatile tool.

First is its sheer volume!  If you’re like me, you’ll probably find there are times when you are working on a few different JPs (especially during shore leave) with a few different people at the same time. One of the biggest pluses to writing in Drive with someone is that it’s much easier to keep track of all your documents as opposed to tracking emails bouncing back and forth. Then, too, you can keep all the JPs you’ve ever written in Drive so that they’re easily accessible — and one of the most useful parts of Drive to me is the ability to check in a moment what I may have written in a JP several months (or years!) before. It’s a great way to keep track of ongoing character arcs, especially if those arcs are difficult to work on outside of shore leave.

There are certainly plenty of ways to write JPs — sending emails back and forth, writing in real time via a chat client. The real benefit of Drive over either is that allows you all the tools of a word processing program with the immediacy of real time chat. In fact, one of my favorite tools of Drive is that it has a built-in chat client — so, even when you’re writing your sim with a friend or two, you can also chat with those friends, deciding what should happen next and chatting about what you’re doing.

Finally, the word processing part of drive is only one of the tools it offers. From the administrative side of things, the spreadsheets that Drive offers are an invaluable tool for sharing tracking information with other folks. While these spreadsheets are primarily used to track members across the fleet, I’ve found spreadsheets to be quite useful in keeping track of ship-specific things like mentors and mentees, promotions, multiple email addresses, and more. If you’re a CO or part of your ship’s staff and you haven’t yet tried using Drive spreadsheets to simplify your information tracking, I’d strongly encourage it.

Drive is a multipurpose, extremely useful tool for the types of writing that we do — so if you haven’t yet, be sure to check it out and see how it could help you out!

A Simmer’s Best Friend: Google Drive, Part 1

If you haven’t ever used Google Drive, formerly known as Google Docs, you definitely need to check it out. One of its basic functions is creating word processing documents, similar to those you’d find in Microsoft Word or any related word processing program. There are two major benefits to using Drive over Word, though, for the type of writing we do here at Starbase 118: It’s accessible from anywhere and any device with an internet connection, and it allows collaborative writing in real time. The latter allows a single document to have multiple people editing a document in real time, which means that two or more writers can create a joint post (JP) in the same time it might talk to chat about a JP!

There are many great ways to use Drive’s word processing and sharing capabilities. I started using Drive as a way to write a backstory with another writer. We both liked the idea of our characters having a fling back in their academy days and used Drive to share the ideas and then write those flashback posts — but, of course, Drive’s real-time collaboration isn’t just useful for writing out background; they’re also a great way to build up relationships in the present. For example, I have used Drive with a shipmate to write sims about our characters having tea (like Picard and Crusher) and gossiping about our fellow crewmates. These sims took place in the present, but were an aside from the main plot. I’ve even used Drive to write with characters on other ships. As with any cross-ship JPs, everyone involved posted on their respective lists — but the JPs were so easy to write immediately! Writing with others in Drive not only makes writing JPs faster and easier, it also encourages collaboration, both on your ship and with ships around the fleet, as there’s never been an easier way to write with others.

Drive also facilitates the creation of what I call a “sim bank.” This sim bank is all the in-progress sims in Drive that I’m working on but that I haven’t posted yet. The bank is full of b-plot sims, cross-ship conversations over subspace, backstory sims, and so on that I can share with others and slowly work on, but that aren’t time-sensitive and can be released whenever. As everyone knows, sometimes real life can throw unexpected curves that can make finding the time to sim nearly impossible. A sim bank is a great help during these times to keep your sim rates up. So, when you have the time to write a lot, try to find some other simmers to start working with you on a few long-term JPs in Drive. Not only can you build up your bank, but you will find that you have better development with others and an easier time finding and developing the voices of your characters

So head to Drive, share a document with someone, and get writing. Don’t forget you can “bank” a few for those crazy weeks when you can’t find the time to write!