The countdown continues, five days to go until NaNoWriMo. So, what are your writing tools of choice? I know there are still many out there who love their pens and journals, but face it, in this day and age, it is getting really hard to do all of our work in that medium. I mean, unless you can afford an assistant to input all of your words into the computer, you are left doing a job twice.
For that reason, many of us still carry around those journals and pens (for me, it is cahier journals) for comfort and for the occasional spark of writing that just can’t be pecked into a smart phone or tablet. If you still use paper and pen, let me know in the comments below what kind of materials you use or how often you use them.
As I mentioned earlier, we live in a world where just about everything is done on the computer. Try finding a working IBM Selectric with a steady supply of ribbons! I do most of my writing on computers now. Occasionally, when I’m in a bind, I will tap in a few short notes into my Evernote app on my phone but I have to be desperate. I just hate pecking out each letter and searching for punctuation. Plus, at my age, the screen just keeps getting smaller and smaller. My phone doesn't rank high on my list of writing tools but it does have a place.
Since computers have become central to the writing world, everyone has a favorite operating system. As far as writing tools go, the OS would be similar to the roll top writing desks of earlier times.
I do all of my writing on Linux systems. I have two main desktops and a laptop that I balance my work between. They are running Ubuntu 14.04 & 16.04 at this particular moment, but I plan to switch one of them over to either Manjaro or Arch full time after NaNoWriMo. Linux distros are my addiction. Some women love buying shoes or clothes...I find new Linux distros to run. When I find a good one, I do stay with it for a while or leave and come back but I also love to travel through the Linux-sphere.
I ran Mint for a while but moved back to Ubuntu. I would love to try Elementary but I’m short on time and hardware at the moment. But enough about me and my Linux fixation...what systems to you guys run? I know a lot of people love their Macs but it seems like the writing world is still heavy into Microsoft Windows. I completely understand that many choose Windows because it was always compatible with publishers and writing software but we are seeing new avenues opening up for the Macs and Linux users.
Which leads me to writing software...There are many different programs out there and some are written for all three platforms. When you see articles on the web about writing tools, they usually are only addressing writing software. This is because there are so many new offerings out there available for all three platforms (Windows, Mac, or Linux) I used Scrivener (Linux version) last year and I purchased a full Scrivener for Windows that same year and parked it on my dusty old Windows 7 drive just in case. (Yes, I have a Windows OS tucked back in the recesses of my desk but I haven’t touched it in many, many moons.)
I really liked Scrivener but I wanted to try something different this year. These days, I am looking for writing tools that are lighter and more portable, since I’m am constantly moving between three different systems, in three different locations. For that reason, I chose FocusWriter. I haven’t put it through its paces yet, but so far it does everything I need it to. It even has a daily word count goal feature or a timer for those of you who do best under pressure. It has a clean page feature that is great for dyslexics like me who hate distractions.
If you have a writing program that you really like, share it in the comments below. I always love hearing about new tech. Some of you may use a separate word count program separate from your writing software. I used to have a great one that was created by a NaNo-ist back in 2009. I loved it because it was very visual. It converted daily counts into a pie graph and a bar graph. That kind of visual helped push me along when I was tired. Unfortunately, that program only worked on Windows so I had to move on. However, between FocusWriter’s word count and the bar graph on the NaNoWriMo site, I think I will manage fine.
Not to be left out of our discussion on writing tools is organizational or note taking software. Those of you using Scrivener already have this function included in your writing software but as I said before, it isn't very portable. For that reason, things like Evernote and Trello have become popular with writers. I've had a free account with Evernote for about two years. I may upgrade next year but for now it works fine for me. I have tried Trello, but it's format doesn't gel with my brain. Once I learned how to nest notebooks in Evernote, I started spending all of my note taking time there. Plus, I have the app on my phone so I can take my notes with me everywhere.
This was a really long post! I get exited talking about writing tools and I just scratched the surface here. Well, that’s it for now...tomorrow we’ll be talking R ‘n R before the storm!