Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Essential Writing Tools

Thanks to KAK for posting on Sunday, while I was off at Daytona Beach watching ripped young men from the Embry Riddle Air Force ROTC do crunches. Oh, and being on panels, etc., at the Coastal Magic Convention. Damn, I love my job!

One question - why are my hats all out of order??

I'm going to weigh in on what KAK said, as she rounded things up nicely on our topic this week of our favorite writing apps. It's interesting where she and I do and don't overlap.

Before that, however, I want to address the overall topic, particularly as Jim and Linda have already indicated that they have little to nothing to say on the subject. They use Word and that's it. You'll also note that KAK listed Word first in her post. So did I.

It's important to remember that's because we are all established writers with habits and routines we've formed over years of work. Of course this is kind of a "duh" answer to us. But, it's worth pointing out that this is a question I see A LOT from newbie writers. I think the question arises partly from wanting to do things the best way and partly out of cultural conditioning, particularly in the U.S.

The man and I have a running joke, in fact, about how Americans love to "gear up" for new enterprises. Like the person who takes up biking and has to buy not only the bicycle, but all the color-coordinated gear, from socks to helmet. Or the one who decides to learn to paint and acquires the full-studio set of artistic supplies.

I think we're really inured into thinking that we need special tools to launch new enterprises. So, what are the essential writing tools?

Imma let you in on the secret!

YOU NEED TO HAVE: something to write on and something to write with.

Seriously. I'm not oversimplifying here. The beauty of being a writer is that we can get away with virtually zero overhead. A stubby pencil and scrap paper will get you by. Oh sure, eventually you're going to want to put those words into some sort of word-processing tool, because that's what everyone uses - whether you'll digitally format to self-pub or send to agents and editors.

Given those considerations, my five favorite ACCESSORY tools are:

1) MS Word:
I write in Word, edit, read for crit partners, etc. It's the industry standard and works just great for me.

2) MS Excel:
Me too on tracking All The Things. Submissions, sales, word count, project plans, P&Ls, etc.

3) Dropbox*:
Also on KAK on this one. I write all my manuscripts in Dropbox. It's a great relief to know I can rescue them from anywhere, should I need to.

Now she and I part ways.

4) Alarms and Clock --Windows 365:
I keep this window open for various timed events - 15, 20, 30, 45, 60 and 90 minutes. This lets me limit my social media time and pace my writing sprints throughout the day.

5) Calibre:
Terrific for converting, organizing and backing up my ebook library - including my own books. This is what I use to send manuscripts to CPs and beta readers, to send giveaway books to readers and reviewers, and to track what I have. Highly recommend!


  1. ~eyes Calibre~

    ~ponders learning curve~

  2. I'm eyeing Calibre, too. Thanks, Jeffe.

  3. I can only imagine your heart attack if you lost Excel. ;) Calibre...a new one for me. I will have to keep that in mind.