Writing Tools

Today I am going to talk about writing. Of course I am, that’s what this blog is all about. But I’m not talking about the plotting, the idea generation, or even the crying for hours on end over the perfect word. No. Today it’s about actually getting those words onto a page, and the various ways of getting it done.

I’m sure when most of you started with grand ideas about being a writer, you grabbed a pen and a nice new notebook, and sat down in a chair wit ha glass of wine and an idea. And soon discovered just how tortuous it can be to write anything longhand for too long. I’m sure there are those who still write in longhand; I still do on occasion if I am stuck on a certain passage or something. It helps to change up my thought process. But to write an entire draft longhand? Been there, hated that. So what other options do we have as writers?

Now I am a die-hard Windows guy, so I can’t comment on anything Mac, or Linux for that matter except in very general terms. All you people who work in something else, please comment below your platform and what you use so it might help others.

I’ve been writing for more years than I care to mention, so I have seen a lot of different programs for writing come and go. Some good, some bad, most expensive. I guess like most I started out with good old Word Perfect 5 on a DOS machine. I think if I try a little I can still remember most of the shortcut keys for formatting and such. I never really got into it, but it was what I had. I’ve used Word, Open Office and a few others not even worth mentioning. What do I use now? Glad you asked. You did ask, right? Well, you are still ready so I will assume you asked.

Scrivener.

This program is simply amazing. I can’t stress that enough. I often use other programs for writing or planning, but the bulk of my work goes directly into Scrivener. Check out the link if you haven’t tried it yet. They have a 30 day trial. I can almost guarantee you will buy it after you give it a go. And it’s pretty inexpensive too. Unlike Word and other similar word processors that display the document in one long behemoth, Scrivener breaks up your story into chapters and scenes for easier navigation. You can even keep all of your research and character sheets and little tidbits of stuff inside it, all with easy and fast access. Visit the Website for more info.

YWriter.

This is like Scrivener’s baby brother. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but does have the organizational abilities. And that is key, for me anyway. I am crap at organizing all my stuff. If I can have one program that does it all, then I will stick with it. And even better, this one is free. Visit the Website for more info.

Focus Writer.

This program is a little different from the rest on the list. It’s a free program. Yay! Basically it gives you a distraction free place to write your words. That’s it. Sometimes I need that. Sometimes if you give me too many bells and whistles I will sit and play with them for hours. You can set word or time goals, change the theme to look like you want it (I make my screen look like an old-timey green on black). That’s about it. Like I said. Near distraction free writing. Visit the Website for more info.

Online Writing Log.

One of the best way to keep up with your words and guage improvements, is to actually track your writing so you can have a good idea of what you are actually do. I use this website to do that. It allows for goals, projects, and several different types of writing activities. It even has countdown timers for those like me who write in small timed blocks. It’s currently in beta right now, but he is always adding features and is a great guy to deal with. Visit the Website for more info.

Pro Writing Aid.

Grammar matters, people! Pro Writing Aid helps with that. If you use Scrivener and this together, then it will open the files directly without any hard work on your part. It will help you track down those little gremlins in your writing, those sticky sentences, even cliches. And so much more. I’m not sure I could get by without this one. It also has a free online version, and plugins for Word. Visit the Website for more info.

Pandora.

Music. Music, and more music. I love to listen as I work. Mostly big band, but sometimes 80’s music. The songs of my high school years. The 80’s, not the big band.. 🙂 they have a free version, with ads, but I pay for the premium and it is well worth the 5 bucks a month. Visit the Website for more info.

Qwertick.

This is a weird little program. Its free and it doesn’t do much, but I love it. Basically it gives you typewriter sounds as you type. That’s it. But you wouldn’t believe how my productivity soars when I use it. The little sounds somehow push me faster and faster. Visit the Website for more info.

There are other programs out there that help with plotting, and other stuff. Perhaps I will talk about those next week. This is my list of must haves, whats yours?

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