Making the decision to write a book, a magazine article or even a blog is an exciting moment filled with big thoughts and even dreams. But reality sets in the first moment that you sit down to actually write. Where do you start?
Think of a carpenter trying to build a house. He could probably build much of it if the only tools he had were a handsaw and a hammer, that’s how they did it for hundreds of years, maybe thousands. But (and this is the point) it will be a better house and a much easier job if he had all the ‘right’ tools for the job; a miter chop saw, a table saw, a nail gun, a level, a drill etc. Having the right tools for the job makes all the difference.
I wrote my first book, ten years ago on yellow legal pads based on a one-page handwritten outline. I then typed it all into Word. Then I went line by line and edited. Once I was cross-eyed from that, I sent it off to the editor. It got done. I know now that it didn’t have to be so damned hard. I have since found some of the ‘right’ tools for my craft. I hope to continue finding more of them, but here is my current list of Must-Have Tools for any writer.
Scrivener is the one tool, I wish that I had found years ago. Scrivener is a word processing tool designed for writers, by writers… but it is so much more. Its a plot building tool, an organizer, a word processor, an eBook formatter and so much more. Once you get used to the organization system, you will never think about going back to Word again. It’s intuitive and flexible and surprisingly inexpensive. Rewriting or rearranging chapters or parts of chapters is really simple. I used it, for the first time, to write ‘BURN SCAR’ a novel set to be released in August 2019 and I am absolutely sold on it… I just lament not finding it sooner. Check out Scrivener here.
EverNote is a great tool for saving your new ideas while on the go via text, voice or snapshot. Don’t forget anything again. Similar to other ‘notes’ apps, but with major increases in functionality. It integrates and syncs across all your devices, computer, phone, tablet, etc so that you have your notes at hand wherever you need it to be. The web-clipper browser extension is worth its weight in gold while you are in research mode as it will save the website, articles, even snapshots of the bits you need. I have written entire chapters while driving with the voice recorder. It doesn’t have voice-to-text, but that’s the only negative I can find about it. Of course, you can link it through Dragon for that, but since I have never done that I won’t talk about that process. Check out EverNote here
Grammarly is an indispensable tool, to clean up your writing by highlighting poor phrasing, spelling and tense issues, to name a few. You can add it to your desktop, add a chrome extension and even link it to MS Word (though see Scrivener above before you bother). Have your own personal ‘grammar nazi’ looking over your shoulder as you write. Check it out here
Scapple is a relatively new brainstorming, plot-point connecting, research organizing, connect-the-dot (phrases) powerhouse. Super easy to use. Type a note somewhere, anywhere and later connect it to some other note via simple drag & drop. Definitely worth checking out. I will be exploring it further as I am currently planning out my next book. But I have very high hopes for it. It comes from the same folks at Literature and Latte that brought us, Scrivener. Check out Scapple here
Vellum is the next great tool if you are self-publishing. This formatting program will make formatting your simple and beautiful. Formatting eBooks is relatively simple, print books are more of a challenge. Vellum simplifies it all: resizes fonts, adds page numbers, adds pages to ensure chapters begin on the right side, adds stylistic chapter titles and graphics. I have to admit, I haven’t used it. I have watched a friend format her book and was blown away. Everyone that I have spoken to that uses it raves about it. It does have one issue that keeps me from using it… it’s for Mac only. Bummer for us PC users, but if you have a Mac it’s a must-have. I have heard of a few workarounds, but you can explore that yourself. I will say that I have actually considered buying a Mac, just so I can use this program. But I haven’t yet rationalized spending $1000+ on a MacBook so that I could run a $200 program… though the thought is there. Go check it out for yourself here.
So there is my list of MUST-HAVES for writers to explore and start your new adventure with the ‘right’ tools for the job.
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Disclosure: I use Scrivener and Grammarly, I am also an affiliate, they do pay me a small percentage if you purchase by clicking on my links. It helps support a writer and keep this page going. The other recommendations I have no affiliation with, at this time.