Friday, February 12, 2016

Tools of the Trade

Let's just all acknowledge that music is a huge portion of what gets me going. The MP3 player and good quality stereo ear buds are a prerequisite to me writing. Without piping creepy music into my brain, I'm the dog in the Disney Pixar movie UP. Every noise, every vaguely overheard conversation will drag me out of working and into eavesdropping - you know - in the interest of future stories. I am especially susceptible if there's the least hint of conflict in a voice or voices. Lacking an ivory tower in which to write, I do my darnedest to manage my focus. Most of my writing tools center on that.
  1. MS Word It is possible I once toiled in the mines where this software was produced. Which means it's where I'm comfy. Dusty and stained by the blood of developers though it may be. This is where all editing, formatting, rewriting and stitching the corpses of my enemies --- er ---where stitching stories together happens. Sometimes I draft here, but Word has a lot of clutter on the screen and I will occasionally switch to one of the tools or apps that follow.

  2. Pen and paper because writing by hand accesses a different part of the brain while you're writing and once in a while there's value in coming at a story from another angle.  

  3. Rocketbook Notebook This is a notebook. You write whatever you want by hand with a specific pen (the ink is the key to the magic here). Once you've finished your masterwork, you bring up the app on your phone, snap a photo of each page and presto, your scrawl is scanned into the cloud location of your choice. You can classify and sort pages as they're uploaded. You can email them to yourself, too. When you've filled this notebook, you take it to a microwave. You zap it for a few seconds and presto. The pages are blank again. You start over.

  4. OmmWriter This is one of my favorites. It is a simple text pad application nestled into an encompassing visual and auditory environment that takes over your computer screen, acting as a distraction blocker. It's designed specifically for drafting. The writing screen is tiny so as to draw you deep into the environment and into a semi-hypnotic state of flow. It offers several sound track and key click sound options and it is recommended for use with headphones. When I want to shut out the world and make some tracks, this is a great place to do it. The only drawback is that anything you import from this application comes into Word poorly formatted. You will have to spend a few seconds reformatting and doing a global search and replace on straight quotes - for some reason, the quotation marks resist being turned curly when I switch them to Times New Roman.

  5. Dark Room. Variation on the 'suck you in' theme. Dark Room emulates an old Commodore 64. Black background, green text. Blocks anything from popping through - whether that's mail notifications or IM windows. Drafting tool only. No editing available. Same deal as with OmmWriter. You will have to mess with formatting. But such is life.  

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