Writing can be a strange, fun and challenging experience, and finding the right tools to help unlock your creativity can take some time. Whether you’re a well seasoned writer or just starting out, finding the right blend of tools, software and stationery to help you become your most productive and organised self is incredibly helpful. You might just get that manuscript finished a little quicker! So, let’s dive into the world of wordsmithing and the tools that can help you go from idea to publishing on your writing journey.
Digital Writing Software
We live in the digital era so every writer needs some form of digital software to write and edit your masterpiece within. There are many options on the market, both paid and free, that are commonly used. Let’s look at a few writing tools below.
By far the industry standard, most writer’s I know use Microsoft Word for writing. It’s a powerful digital software with everything you could possibly need to edit your novel or article all in one place. It’s easy to use and most of us have grown up using it. It’s also the go to software in the publishing industry. If you’re looking to submit your manuscript, you can guarantee they’ll want it in a word doc format for editing and formatting down the track.
Google Docs is a super useful and free online program available to anyone who has a Google account. I have previously used Google Docs extensively for years before moving to Microsoft Word. What I love about this program is the ability to log in anywhere on any device whenever inspiration strikes. Quite a significant part of the novel I’m currently working on has been writing on Google Docs on my mobile phone during my commute to and from work over the last few years. And it adds up! The convince of anytime access is the huge plus of this program for me. And I can easily share my docs with my fellow writer friends for real time feedback and advice, despite living states apart from one another. The collaborative features it provides are super useful. Offline access is also a great function, which allows you to write on your device when you aren’t connect to the internet, and it will then update once you reconnect. Perfect if you love to write outdoors for example!
Scrivener is a very popular writing application created with writers in mind. I know a lot of people who love it, but it’s not for everyone. I highly recommend the trial version to see if its set up works with your writing style before purchasing as it is on the pricer side (A standard licence for MacOS is $89.99 AUD). The program has a ton of functionality including cork boards to pin your ideas to or plot out your storyline. It has an outliner tool that helps to layout your overviews of chapters or parts within your text. You can arrange your chapters and drafts with ease, create folders and subfolders. There are all sorts of features built within the program that are specifically designed for writers of all kinds, whether you’re a screenwriter, novelist, journalist or non-fiction writer. This tool is possibly particularly helpful for self-published writers thanks to some of its export functions. Certainly one to explore and potentially invest in if this work style fits your needs.
Analogue Writing Tools
There’s something to be said of going a little old school with a pen and paper to get the ideas flowing. I personally love to make sure I’ve got a notebook and pen to hand to jot down ideas for stories, pieces of dialogue that come to mind, or even ideas for my blog posts. So, let’s look at some helpful stationery to have on hand to help your writing experience.
I cannot tell you how many notebooks I have scribbled with writing ideas, notes, dialogue, drawings, maps etc. I could go on. I’ve got one in my bag, one my by bedside, one on my desk, and a whole crate full on my bookshelf. Some I’ve dedicated to specific projects, others are full of every random thought I had as I carried it around. Now some writers love a pure blank slate, which is where I sit on the scale. I love both ruled and dotted notebooks to help plan my ideas or draw potential maps of scenes. Personally I love using Paperblanks and Peter Pauper Press notebooks, as they have gorgeous cover designs, are durable in my bag, and have nice thick paper for my ink pens. There are so many journal and notebook companies out there if you’re after something beautiful and aesthetically pleasing. For me I love to pair the design and colours that align with the novel I’m working on, sometimes pretending it’s the notebook my character would use in world.
Every writer in my opinion should have a collection of pens ready to scribble down a thought at any moment. I certainly know I never seem to have enough of them. But when you find a really great pen to write with it truly is a game changer. For myself coming across the Quirky Cup Collective’s “You Are Magic” pen was everything. When I say I use it everyday I am not kidding, it is the best pen I’ve ever written with, and it’s from a local Australian company. Even better they have affordable ink refills which I’ve already had to purchase. What I love about these pens is the cute, magical designs, the affirmations on the pen lid, and the smooth flow of ink while writing. It’s thick and dark and when it dries looks great on the page. I plan to order more in her pen series in the future, as they’re a lot of fun.
If you’re anything like me and love to scribble on scraps of paper or print your writing to edit by hand, I highly recommend getting yourself some folders or binders to store all your papers in one place. It’s a great way to keep yourself organised and be able to grab all your documents for a specific project off the shelf when needed. I find different types are useful for different things. Ring binders are great for keeping a full manuscript together while you’re doing edits page by page. Document boxes however can be a great way to store lots of small bits of paper, scribbled ideas or maps. I use a combination of both to keep myself organised, carefully labelling them all on my bookshelf.
Tools for productivity
So, you’ve now got your digital writing software, notebooks and pens, and you’re raring to go. Really that is all you need, but sometimes there are other useful writing tools to help get you in the zone.
It surprised me how long it took me to discover timers to help increase my productivity while writing. The Pomodoro timing method is quite popular. It is typically done in intervals of 25 minutes on, then a 5 minute break, repeated several times. I particularly like this timing interval, however shorter writing sprints of 15 minutes can also be really usefully. The challenge of churning out words while time ticks down is both fun and motivating. Now timers can come in many forms, both physical and digital. In terms of physical options there are a lot on the market, just look at the huge amount on Amazon under “pomodoro study timer”, but if digital timers are your thing, make use of the timer function on your phone, or utilise some of the great timed writing videos available on YouTube. I particularly like the ones on Abbie Emmons Immersive Writing Session playlist.
Are you writing in a genre that requires maps? Being able to generate something easily so you have a visual map to work off while writing is super useful. I personally enjoy using online program Inkarnate, it’s easy to use and has both a free and pro version. So far though I have found the free version is enough for generating maps of my locations. Having these on hand makes the writing so much easier if you can work out exactly where everyone is, what they’re doing and how far places are from one another.
Dictionaries, Thesaurus and More
I think I have been using Rhymezone since I was a teenager to help me find those words that escape me while writing. What I like about this site is that is has so much more all built in; dictionary, synonyms and antonyms, near rhymes, descriptive words and more. It’s old but I still find it very useful in a pinch when I’m trying to find an alternative for “she was mad” or “they said”.
Some writers also find tools like Grammarly helpful in improving both spelling and clarity of writing, particular if you write non-fiction or articles. Helpfully it can be integrated into both Microsoft Word and Google Docs if you are writing on those programs.
Finding the perfect blend of writing tools, software and stationery that works for you in highly personal, but worth investigating early in your writing career to help you be the best writer you can. Over time is likely what works now will change and develop, project to project or every year to year as new technology and tools are created to help writers work better. Experiment, do some research and find what works for you, and you might just find yourself unlocking new levels of creativity and productivity. Whether you’re a digital master or an analogue enthusiast the writing world is your oyster. So, equip yourself with the tools that inspire you and write that bestseller. The world can’t wait to read it!
Until next time,
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