Today I'm talking about writing tools. There's a lot that I use to help me in my writing. I take my writing very seriously. When I was younger I'd just sit down and start writing whatever came to mind in a notebook. But I have since learned that writing is a lot more technical. Besides, I don't always have time to sit down and start writing right when an idea comes to mind. There are so many amazing things out there to help me out, and I figured I should share them with you guys! So, here are my favorite writing tools!
Grammarly is my number one favorite writing tool. I love it even more than my writing program. Grammarly is like spellcheck. It checks your spelling and grammar. But it isn't just for Word or Scrivener (I don't know if you can use it on Scrivener, by the way). You can use it on just about every website. You can use it in Word. You can download it and use the application on your computer. They even have an app for the iPhone, which I haven't tried yet. I use it when I write my books and blog posts. I use it when I write emails. I use it when I write pretty much anything. The only sites I haven't been able to use it on so far are Google Docs and Hootsuite. So, I use the app for that. I just copy and paste whatever I want into the app, and the app checks my spelling and grammar for me.
There's a paid option, but from what I hear, it isn't worth it. And for me, the free version works just fine. Also, you get an email every week telling you how many words you wrote the week before, how many mistakes you made, what your most common mistakes were, and how many unique words you used. I like getting those emails. They make me feel special.
Everyone knows what Word is, right? Microsoft Word? I shouldn't have to explain it in depth, so I'll just say this: It's a writing program. If you've ever written a report, you've probably used Word. And Word is my writing program of choice. I've tried to use Scrivener. I've tried to use it so many times because I've heard so many great things about it. But I just didn't like it. I spent too much time trying to figure out how to use it, and not enough time writing. With Word, you just sit down and start writing. Would it be nice to keep things like outlines and character profiles right next to what you're writing? Sure. But is it really such a big deal to switch tabs to look at an outline? Not really. I don't think so, anyway. I also used Google Docs for both Kill the DJ and Beauty's Only Skin Deep and then half of Election Year 2050. It's just like Word, it's free, and you can use it on any computer. But the problem? You need an internet connection. I don't always have one available when I go out, and when it gets windy or rainy at home, the internet has trouble. So, I switched to Word.
I do almost everything I need on Word. I outline, I do character profiles, I write the book (or short story), and I format from Word. Formatting actually isn't as hard as it seems. I see so many people talk about how Vellum is absolutely needed for formatting a book to Kindle. Maybe for a book with pictures, but not for a book that's just straight up text. All you need to do is press a few buttons on the keyboard and you're good. I downloaded a Kindle book for free, and it taught me everything I needed to know. I've formatted my ebooks so many times now, that I don't need to look at the book anymore. I'm getting off track here, but the two points I'm trying to make are that you don't need any fancy, expensive software to format an ebook, and that Word is really the only writing program you need.
Everyone should have Evernote on their phones. I use it to make all kinds of lists. I make lists for everything. And my most important list is my tri-monthly goals list. I look at it every day, and I break my day down into smaller goals that will help me reach the goals on my list. Even before I started using Evernote for my writing/career related things, I was still using it every day. Like I said, everyone should have it.
I recently switched from Asana to Trello. They're both easy to use, but Trello has a lot more flexibility, in my opinion. I don't only use Trello for writing, I use it for blogging and vlogging too. I usually just write down everything I can think of that I have to do, and once I'm done with that, I organize everything into categories.
Do you remember the bubble maps and flow charts English teachers would make everyone do before we could write our essays? That's what Mindmeister is. It's a website to make bubble maps. I use this for world-building. Even if no one ever learns about it, I have a lot of ideas (history, culture, stuff like that) for whatever location my stories take place in. And anything that has to do with world-building goes into one of these bubble maps.
Realtime Board is basically a giant, neverending inspo board. You can write on it and put pictures on it. I use it for visual inspiration for not just writing projects, but for other things as well. For example, I looked up pictures from bullet journals on Pinterest and copied and pasted them into a board on Realtime Board. This is another one of those things that's useful for everyone.
As I mentioned before, I used to do all of my writing in Google Docs. Even though I don't write my books there anymore, I use it for excerpts and story ideas. I have a document with over sixty pages worth of ideas. Whenever I get an idea for a few lines of a story or a new idea altogether, I pull out my phone, open Google Docs, and write it down.
In all honesty, one of my favorite parts of being a writer is that I have an excuse to have way more notebooks than anyone ever needs. I have a slight obsession with notebooks. I always have. And now I have a huge collection. I have two for vlog/blog ideas, I have two journals, a bullet journal, one where I do a thought-dump for specific story ideas (I also have a section for beta reader feedback), and I have a notebook for each book I'm currently working on. And right now I'm working on four books. So, I currently have ten, and I'm sure I'll buy about five more next time I go to TJ Maxx. It's just a way of life. Everything that goes into my thought-dump notebook goes onto Mindmeister, Realtime Board, and Trello, and then the information on those sites go into the book specific notebook. I realize that it seems like I could probably cut out a few steps, and I probably could. But this system works for me, even if there is a little extra work involved.
I don't know how to explain Dropbox other than saying that it's like this magical thing where you put your files, and it saves your files and you can access it from your phone or any computer. I put all my files in Dropbox. It's easy to remember. I have Dropbox downloaded to my computer, and every time I'm done writing, I copy and paste the file into Dropbox. I do it with my pictures and videos too.
I hope you know what a flash drive is, but if you don't, it's like Dropbox, only it's a physical thing you plug and unplug from your computer. I have separate ones from documents, videos, pictures, and music. Even though I back things up daily on Dropbox, I back everything up on my flash drives weekly. It just gives me extra peace of mind.
Well, those are my favorite writing tools. These are things that I'd probably be lost without. Especially Grammarly. Seriously, I don't know how I ever worked without it. It has been a lifesaver. If you're looking to start writing (or if you're a seasoned writer), check this stuff out! I'm sure even one of the things on here can help make your job easier.