Tuesday, March 8, 2011

More Tools of the Trade for Writers

Wrenches_5403 (23)

If you missed yesterday’s post, I’m running a short series on useful tools for writers. The nice thing about writing is that it can be a nearly free activity. But there are tools that can make writing (and promo) easier. Many of the tools are free, too, if you already have a computer and internet connection.

Promo is a necessary evil for any writer who has a book on the shelves. Fortunately, some of the promo has to do with author branding—and I find blogging fun. I make my blogging easier by using Windows Live Writer. It’s a free download from Microsoft and is a whole lot easier to use than Blogger’s program. It looks a lot like a Microsoft Word page. You can upload your posts to any blog provider.

Google Documents: I’ve jumped on the Google Docs bandwagon kind of late, but I do like it a lot. You can access your document anywhere and you could share it out with others, if you wanted to (critique groups, agent, editors come to mind…you can edit in real time with other users, too), or mark it as a private file. It could also be considered a nice way to backup your files by using a cloud and not having the manuscript located only on your computer (that’s where we run into problems.) It’s a free application.

OneNote: You might have OneNote on your computer and not even realize it’s there. It comes with Microsoft Office if you operate Windows on your computer. Having OneNote is like having a binder-style notebook with tabs right there on your computer. So you could have a notebook titled “My Book.” One section of your notebook could be Research, another could be Characters another could be Settings, etc. You can use it to organize notes (even handwritten ones) create tables, or organize brainstorming scribbles.

Here’s a post I wrote that describes how I use OneNote. And this is an excellent post on Writers Alley on the program.

4x6 notecards and pencils: Notecards and pencils are the ultimate low-tech tools for me. I like the slightly bigger notecard size so I won’t lose them as easily, but they still store nicely in my purse or laptop bag for those ideas that strike when I’m away from home. I’m a fan of pencils and I buy them in bulk at Costco. They’re everywhere. Pens just seem to bleed too much for me.

Voice recorder: I do use voice recorders, especially when I’m driving on trips. (I tend to get lots of story ideas when driving.) You can buy voice recorders inexpensively (they’re digital now), but I simply downloaded a free one on my phone. One touch of a button and it’s recording my thoughts for later.

Evernote: I’ve also used Evernote on my phone, which does have a voice recording component, too. But I mostly like the way that I can take pictures with my phone, save it to Evernote with story notes, and then have those notes shared out onto my PC. (Yes, I’m a fan of surreptitiously taking pictures of people who look like characters. :) I also take pictures of settings (landscapes, old buildings, houses with interesting architecture, etc.) It’s free.

Hope you’ll continue to add to this list---I got some great suggestions on tools to try from yesterday’s post! Have any other favorite tools?