Monday, September 27, 2010

Writing Tools

Do you have any special tools that you use for your writing work? Do you use any special editors, or software just for writers?

Over the past few years, I haven't. My toolbox included only Pilot Gel Pens, 5 subject lined notebooks, and Microsoft Word.

With the Gel Pens and notebooks, I write the first draft. I don't write longhand, or I'd need the NSA cryptographic computers to decipher what I've written. I actually print the first draft. Turns out that I can print very quickly, so I can write 5-10 pages an hour pretty easily. And I can actually read my printing when I get done.

I think the reason that printing by hand works for me, is that I don't have to think about creating the words, they flow off the pen. Although I'm getting better, what I have found it that it's more difficult for me to type the words directly.

When I am editing however, I will rewrite complete paragraphs from the keyboard. It's just easier for me to create the first draft by hand.

Lately I have been exploring some other tools for writing. I have been playing with Scrivener, and frankly I like it. I can see that having a tool that lets you organize all your research in the same area as your writing files, could be very useful. Plus having a corkboard like utility to let you move story elements around at will, seems like a great benefit. I'm thinking about trying it on the next project.

I recently bought a 5 dollar app for my iPad called iaWriter. I haven't used it a lot yet, but I love it's simplicity. I find that Microsoft Word has a number of characteristics that get in my way while trying to complete a manuscript. The auto-correct, grammar checking, and a bunch of other things don't help me, but get in the way more than anything. This new app lets you focus on the words, and you format it later.

What about you? Have you found any writing software that enhances your writing?


  1. I swear by Scrivener. I love that I can see, at a glance, what scenes I've written, what scenes I hven't, and where the middle starts to sag. Plus, have you ever tried to slog through a 250-page word file? It's inspiring at first, and then it just sucks. At least Microsoft took a hint and got rid of the talking paperclip, though!

  2. I do some pen (Pilot V-Ball) and paper (every shape, size, and color under the sun), but increasingly my hand just can't keep up with my brain. Typing can almost keep up, so that's what I do, and I just use MS Word or Open Office Word for most things. For script-writing I use CeltX.

    I used to find I got more character and voice with pen and better detail and action when I typed, but now that I'm not fighting against my own voice all the time I don't seem to have that problem anymore.

    I type mostly on a laptop (can't do the netbook keyboard, as much as I would like to), though I also sometimes pop out my smartphone (or my PDA before that) and write away in Documents to Go.

  3. Since I don't have a Mac, I don't have Scrivener . . . though a Windows based version is set for release early 2011.

    I used to write longhand first and then type. Now, I'm all about just using Word. I may take notes by hand, but I'll normally put them into a Word Document.

    I'm faster at typing than writing out by hand, so, in the initial flow of words, typing is better. You can also turn off Grammar/Spell/Etc. during the first draft process. Just a thought.


  4. I tend to write random bits and pieces in a notebook that I keep in my bag, I get a lot of ideas when I'm on the bus! But if I'm actually working on a piece of writing I hammer it out in Word, print it, and attack it with a red pen once I feel it needs a read-over.


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