Monday, March 7, 2011

Tools of the Trade for Writers

tools_002I came across this article a few days ago on the WordCount blog on tech tools for writers, and it got me thinking about the tools that I use every day.

The nice thing about writing as a hobby/career is that it really doesn’t have to cost very much (which is nice because writers don’t really make very much.) :)

But there are the extras. And it’s fun to have them. These are the tools I use frequently:

Microsoft Word: MS Word and I have had rocky times in our relationship, I’ll admit. But I do like some of its features. I use their highlighter to mark areas of my first draft that I realize are disasters. This helps me to move past the disaster and finish my first draft. Half the time I don’t even analyze the troublesome section—I just mark it to figure out later.

Word’s Track Changes is a necessity when revising with an agent or editor and shows who made what changes or suggestions. I use Track Changes, myself, in my daily writing—clicking ‘review,’ then ‘new comment’ and adding comments in the margins where I have a question: '”Is Beatrice’s dog male or female?” is one comment I’ve got in my current WIP because I’m aware I’m being inconsistent. But it would have been time-consuming to chase down that detail during the first draft.

Not sure how to use Track Changes? Here is a link that shows you how to use Track Changes.

Countdown Timer: This timer is what I use to keep myself on track. What do I time? Everything. I give myself ten or fifteen minute intervals for checking in on social media, replaying to emails, or visiting blogs. I also set a timer for my writing time and make sure I keep working at least until it goes off.

Google: I have some sort of Google application up on my computer most of the day. I use Google’s free Gmail program (I reserved my name pretty early in the process so that I could have an email address that made sense and sounded professional…so I’m Elizabethspanncraig(at)gmail(dot)com.)

I also like Google’s calendar which I can update online. I frequently will copy/paste reminders to myself from actual emails I’ve gotten and just stick it on the Google calendar. It syncs with my phone and then I’ve got all the info I need when I’m out of the house, too.

I also use Google Reader to organize and read all the writing blogs I subscribe to. Here’s a post I wrote, explaining a little more about how I use Google Reader.

This post is getting long, so I’ll pick up tomorrow with some more tools—like One Note, Windows Live Writer, and even my favorite low-tech tools. :)

What are some of your favorite writing tools?