There’s a world of stuff out there intended to make a writer’s life easier. Not all of it is created equal, however. After a lot of failed experiments, here are the five tools I can’t imagine writing without:
How did I function without this word processing software? How did I outline? (Not that I ever stick to an outline, but still . . . .) How did I move scenes around? How did I edit my chapters? How did I compile anything? How did I format anything? No idea. I prefer not to think back on those dark, bleak pre-Scrivener days.
That said, I’ll offer a few caveats. Scrivener isn’t free, though I believe you can test out a trial version. For what it’s worth, I found the price reasonable. There’s a bit of a learning curve too—for the love of Chuck, read the instructions! (I learned that the hard way.) Finally, it’s not designed for multiple devices—but with a little tweak, you can make it play nice with Dropbox. Speaking of which . . . .
A good file hosting service is essential to my writing life—both to protect me from crashes and to allow me to pull up my documents on any device. Dropbox is my current fave; I’ve found it easy to work with, plus I love the way it saves my phone’s camera roll automatically. Full disclosure: I splurged on the paid version.
3. Bullet Journal
I want my whole life online! All my to-do lists, my calendar, everything! Don’t tell me about this fast-paced journal system that uses a physical pen and notebook . . . oh, wait. This system is actually kind of cool. And cheap—any dime store notebook will do.
And, okay, I like the set-up: my index, daily log, future log, monthly tasks—all that good stuff. And I love the collections I’ve made. I have pages set aside for story ideas, character ideas, article ideas, just to name a few. Oh, and a quote log! I love writing down inspirational quotes. (Okay, yeah. An abnormal amount are by Misha Collins, whom I have accepted as my personal Overlord.)
Plus this is not just for writing. No, I’ve managed to organize my whole life with this system. Yikes—my poor online calendars and to-do lists are languishing now.
4. Meditation and Workout Time
I tend to combine these two: when I’m done with my workout at the gym, I treat myself to mediation time. It can be tough to find time for one of these activities, let alone both, so I’ve started getting up at the ass-crack of dawn. Completely worth it!
I find the cost of a gym worth it as well, but if I reach the point where I have to sacrifice my membership, I’ll still make working out at home a priority. The joint process of exercising my body and calming my mind are helping me sharpen my focus as a writer. And probably making me a more reasonable human being to boot.
5. My Writing Buddies
Wait, did I just call my friends tools? Um, you know what I meant, right?
My writing pals encourage me when I’m despairing over a story, chide me when my story has lost its way and challenge me to sit my ass in the chair and pound out those words! I do my utmost to return the favors—either online or at meet-ups where we come together in person for word wars and cocktails. (Mostly virgin cocktails for me, but still.)
I’ve heard people insist that writing is a solitary venture—in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.
That’s it for me. How about you? What makes your list?