Well, I wrote up this article, then immediately Paul and Perry posted articles about writing tools–those for free. So now, you just get the full spectrum of opinions on writing. tools. 🙂 Now that you’ve read all three…comment and share your thoughts on writing tools!
While it’s true that “all you need to write is pen and paper,” there are many other tools available to the modern writer which helps make our job easier and more fluent. If you look at my writing tools today vs. even a year ago, you’ll see that they have changed. So instead of giving you a run-down of “what I use today,” I’ll just be mentioning some writing tools that have helped me throughout the years. After you read through mine, I’d love to hear what you’ve found helpful in the writing tool world!
Let’s start with my newest tool: Scrivener (so new, in fact, that I’ve not yet expired the 30-day trial). I’m not a plotter, but I am very much an organizer—yet not a sloppy organizer (as in, I can’t have five binders and a thousand sticky notes all over the place). Being that Scrivener is all in one place (my computer) yet fully customizable, I was sold. If you’re new to Scrivener or are thinking about whether or not it will work for you, here’s a tutorial I found that helped me a lot in my knowledge of this tool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEKLey1ecOg&t=455s&list=PLpQF5vXTVTlmCstgXIBPmo3emQuiS8KtB&index=1
My favorite aspect: Since I’m rewriting a novel right now, my favorite aspect is the split-screen where I can have my current manuscript on one side and open anything from the former manuscript, plotting, ideas, or quotes in the other screen.
My second-newest tool is my Kindle Fire. I have heard several authors who have used their Kindles to “read aloud” their manuscripts to them (I’ve not done this yet, but it’s on my list to do). One of the tools that I have used is both Microsoft Word and Google Docs (I’m co-authoring a book right now and Google Docs works well to keep the file updated regularly between me and my friend). In time, I’ll purchase a USB keyboard to connect to my Fire which will then make it a more useable writing tool (right now, I’m just planning and dreaming).
Note: you can transform any modern device (be it a tablet or smart phone) to be a writing tool, as the Microsoft Word app is readily available (usually for free) and Bluetooth keyboards are easy to find.
My favorite aspect: portability, of course! My Fire can fit inside my purse, so I can bring it anywhere I’d like.
Before Scrivener, I would use Microsoft Word in which to write. It’s still a great tool if you just want to write and not be distracted by the extra options of Scrivener.
Beyond Word, I would use Publisher to finalize my manuscript and get it ready for publication. I have found Publisher easier to use than Word for formatting, because I can manipulate the settings to do exactly what I want.
My favorite aspect of Publisher: easily being able to drag and drop pages wherever I’d like; being able to “copy/paste” anything from one page to the next and it stays in the same place on the page.
E-sword is completely free for computers (small fee to have it on your smart phone). It is a Bible app where you can download the Bible in various versions and languages. It has a search engine and other tools that are helpful for finding the correct verse.
My favorite aspect: their search tool which can search exact phrases as well as a compilation of random words from a verse to find the verse on mind.
I feel that in this age, most writers know the use of the internet with its thousands upon thousands of articles for both research and learning more of the writing process, yet I’ll mention it for the sake of mentioning it.
My favorite aspect: Pinterest! 😉 Let’s say the bookmarks bar, where I can bookmark pages and don’t have to try to find it again and again.
I have never successfully done even a NaNo camp, but I love the thought behind it: get writers together to work toward a goal and be accountability partners. I’d suggest any writer to attempt to do NaNo or NaNo Camp.
Moving away from the computer, I’ve got to throw these in here! Though the World Wide Web is full of great resources, I still like to have hard copies of my research books on hand to easily flip through (for example, I just ordered a book of Civil War Uniforms—I won’t need to spend half an hour trying to track down one uniform; I can just flip to that page). Besides countless research books, I’ve begun collecting books on the writing craft (Faith Blum does an excellent job of sharing books to add to your shelves here on Wordquill).
My favorite aspect: indexes and being able to flip to a page (and mark it) rather than searching endlessly online; also, giving me non-screen time to learn.
Writer’s Guides to Everyday Life
As a sub-point for books, Writer’s Digest’s series is mention-worthy. “The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life…” is a series of books with very practical, down-to-earth information spanning various eras. Here is a quick search of their books on Amazon. I have at least four of their books and they have all been invaluable as I’ve dipped into random eras.
I know there are many more writing tools out there than the few that I have mentioned (Perry’s WriteMind planners, for example), but maybe this list will help a beginning writer to expand their tools and enjoy writing more fluently. If you’ve experienced with a tool that I’ve not mentioned, what made you try it out? Do you recommend it to all writers, or only certain types of writers? What is your favorite aspect of it?