My Four Favorite Writing Tools

As writers write more, they eventually start to settle into patterns. This may include how they research, how (or if) they outline, what kind of background work they do before starting, and what order they write in. But one other thing that writers tend to develop as they go is their arsenal of writing tools. Note: I do not mean resources, like websites; that will be a different post.

Today, I wanted to share some of my favorite tools of the trade. These are things I use specifically for each of my projects (some more than others), and do not include reference materials.

Let’s dive right in!

  1. Writeometer: This is an app I keep on my phone that lets you record all your word counts. It’s been incredibly helpful to me during slumps to keep me going, adding motivation and a reward-based system for hitting your goals. Another part that’s super helpful is the ability to track how long it will take to finish a project… and compare it to a deadline, either self-imposed or given to you. Highly recommend!

    Image result for writeometer
    The nifty little logo for Writeometer.
  2. Google Docs: So, it used to be that I used Word for all my writing. Then I tried Scrivener, but I couldn’t quite get the hang of it. Now that I travel back and forth between computers all the time, I’ve found that Google Docs is my favorite place for drafting new stories. They’re easy to share with critique partners and betas, and it has all the functionality I really need. Once I’m ready to put the submission manuscript together, I’ll migrate it to Word, but until then, Docs is perfect.
  3. Pen and Paper: Yup, this one is easy. More specifically, notebooks! I tend to do a lot of research for my stories, and so I need an organized place to take my notes. For every project (as I’ve mentioned before), I pick up a new notebook, one that I love, that I would want to carry around, and that inspires me. Pro tip: I picked this idea up from Alexandra Bracken’s newsletter… if you don’t get that, she’s amazing and shares her own writing tips and progress there. She’s also super nice and down-to-earth. You should sign up!
  4. Pinterest: Finally, one of my first go-tos is a new, fresh, clean Pinterest board for all my projects. I love creating a place with visual inspiration for what I’m working on; it definitely gives me an aesthetic and a mood (like an actual mood board, but digital) for when I need a boost to jump into the world. It’s also a pretty great place to save information and ideas I find online. I’ll share some of my personal boards with you, so you can get an idea of the kinds of things I save.

Pinterest boards for stories:

Pinterest boards for things I might write one day:

Finally, Pinterest boards with writing resources:

  • Things for Writers, or resources the help writers with blogging, general writing, useful websites, etc.
  • Writing Reference, or guides that might come in handy for creating worlds and stories

5. Coffee: …just kidding. But I do love coffee!

So there you have it: my four favorite writing tools. One of these days, I’ll finish compiling my list of favorite writing resources and share it with you. But until then, enjoy these boards and ideas. And share your favorite writing tools with me in the comments!

The Distracted Writer

A lot of writers on the internet are likely to tell you the same thing: in order to write, you must turn off the distractions and focus on your writing and your writing alone.

So okay, I know that’s pretty good advice. The best way to focus on what you’re doing is not to multitask. No TV on in the “background”, no Netflix, no Facebook or Instagram or Tumblr or email. Just you and the page set in front of you. And maybe a good instrumental (or otherwise) writing playlist.

And I’ll be the first to say that this is good advice for any writer to follow.

However, I’ll also be the first to say that I very rarely write without distractions.

Like many newer writers (and by newer I mean those who may or may not have published yet but have only recently begun to seriously write… oftentimes juggling writing with a day job and/or family), I work at my job full-time (and previously I was a full-time student). I deal with my problems, health, social life, and expenses on a regular basis. I try to develop healthy habits like exercise and practicing mindfulness and daily time to nourish my relationship with God. And I try to keep some semblance of a writing habit on top of this.

But I’m also a huge nerd with a huge pile of hobbies. I love going to the movies. I get sucked into reading multiple books at a time. I paint, draw, and play piano. I binge shows on TV and on Netflix. And these hobbies take up time.

Now, I am lucky enough to have a job with very set hours, a job where the work doesn’t really come home with me. And now I live less than half an hour away. So I get to leave at 4 in the afternoon (usually) and have until about 11 pm (my bedtime) to do whatever needs to be done. Sometimes all I have time for is meeting with a friend or a group and then using the last hour (or less) to equilibrate my introvert self before I go to sleep. Sometimes I have an entire evening to pile in as many hobbies as I want.

This often leaves me in the dilemma of choosing to read OR watch Netflix OR do something else that requires less divided attention. Oftentimes I will open up my current novel and turn on the TV in the background, leaving both on for the entire night. Would I get more done if I just focused on one for a set amount of time? Sure I would.

But I’ll let you in on a hint about me. It is very rare that I find myself able to focus solely on one thing. Even if I’m writing with nothing else, there’s still the cat. If I’m at my parents’ house, the different environment (and two lovable dogs) are distraction enough to keep me from even pulling out my computer. If I write with music, the music tends to carry me away anyway. And sure, I can focus when I need to. I’ve never had problems meeting deadlines. I know how to pace myself and how I work.

So the truth is, I am a perpetually distracted writer. And I know that. And you know what? That’s okay. Because I still get my work done, little by little, and I get a lot of it accomplished on weekends.

I am unlikely to finish my word count goal for Camp NaNo this year. I’m okay with that. My goal was more being able to get some kind of schedule back, because for a long time I had lost it entirely. I am getting my ability to write regularly back. And it’s regular writing, and not necessarily having a great, focused writing session day in and day out that leads to a completed work. Just always putting one word after another.

Sometimes that’s enough.