The 7 Tools I Use To Get My Writing Done

Lately I’ve seen a lot of writers talking about the tools that they use to get their writing done. And I’m always interested, because it’s fun to get a peak into what other writers do.

So I thought I’d share with you the tools I personally use to do my writing:

1. Scrivener

Scrivener is writing software that you can use to write a novel, screenplay, nonfiction book and more. It has a lot of features, but I pretty much only use it to do my writing.

Specifically, I use it for writing my novels.

I love being able to write one scene at a time and have it be easy to move things around when I want to.

And only having to look at one scene at a time keeps me from looking back at what I wrote earlier and then writing and rewriting over and over again.

2. Dropbox

Dropbox is an online storage program that lives in the cloud and on your desktop.

I love it because I can sync my account to my Mac, my iPhone and my iPad. It’s so nice to have instant access to everything I need right at my fingertips and on all of my devices.

3. Evernote

Evernote is an app where you can store clips, bits of writing, notes, soundbites, links, etc. You can connect it with your Internet browser and be able to save things you read online.

I don’t use this as much as I’d like to, but I have a backlog of writing ideas stored in my Evernote account. Whenever I run out of ideas or feel like I’m lacking inspiration in the moment, I login to my account and read through the ideas I have in there.

I’m a messy, but super-organized person, so this program is perfect.

4. Moleskine

Moleskines are my favorite notebooks. I love them so much, I probably own fifty of them (and counting).

The pages are so soft and writing on them is smooth, like butter. And I love the history behind them.

So I spend a little bit more than your typical notebook to have the history and the quality that I love.

All of my writing ideas start here. And then from here they either get their own notebook or I transfer them directly to the computer.

5. Timer

My iPhone has a timer on it, but I still prefer my little Pampered Chef kitchen timer. It’s simple to use and I can carry it with me wherever I need it.

I use a timer to help me get in the writing zone. I’ll set it for 30 minutes and see how many words I can bang out on the keyboard.

It’s also great for days when I’m feeling distracted. I’ll set it for 15 or 20 minutes, and then tell myself when it goes off I can do something else for 15 minutes and then I have to go back for another session (this is also known as the Pomodoro Technique).

And speaking of distractions…

6. Self Control

Self Control is an app for Mac. It does one thing: blocks your access to the Internet.

The Internet is the biggest writing distraction. Avoid this trap by blocking it during your writing sessions.

Self-Control is cool because you can add specific websites to it that you personally use (and want to avoid). And what’s even cooler is that once you set the timer on it, you can’t turn it off ’til it goes off on its own.

You can’t even delete the program from your computer–it won’t let you until the time is up.

7. iPad

I like having a tablet for my writing, as well.

I mostly use my iPad for reading through my stories and drafts. This saves me from having to print out tons of pages that will eventually get thrown away.

I just turn the Word doc into a PDF and save it in my Dropbox. Then I pull it up on the iPad and read it through.

I also use it to do writing on occasion (though not often because typing on it for long periods of time is a bitch).

These are the tools that make up my writing life.

But the most important tool I have is my Story Roadmap Kit. I created this kit to walk you step-by-step through the process of putting together a story plan. I use this kit to plan and develop all of the stories I write.

>> Learn More About the Story Roadmap Kit

Image courtesy of Wonderlane 

Write Or Die: A Free Tool for Procrastinating Writers

By Jennifer Blanchard

I was recently introduced to an awesome writing productivity tool from a follower on Twitter (@armselig). The tool is called “Write or Die,” which is “a Web application that encourages writing by punishing the tendency to avoid writing. Start typing in the box. As long as you keep typing, you’re fine, but once you stop typing, you have a grace period of a certain number of seconds and then there are consequences,” according to the tool’s creator, Dr. Wicked.

Here’s how “Write or Die” works:

  • There are 3 modes: Gentle, Normal and Kamikaze.
  • In Gentle Mode, when you stop writing, you will get “writing reminders” that pop up on your screen reminding you to keep writing until your time limit is up/you have hit your word count.
  • In Normal Mode, when you stop writing, you’ll hear a very annoying noise, which will only go away if you keep writing.
  • In Kamikaze Mode, when you stop writing, it gives you a few seconds and then it starts deleting your words. To keep it from deleting everything, you have to keep writing.
  • Once you choose your word count/time limit, mode and how “forgiving” you want the tool to be, you’re off and writing.

Now before you try out this tool, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • This is for productivity ONLY—Do not expect to write anything even remotely close to The Great Gatsby or Grapes of Wrath just by using this tool. This tool is not here to make you a better writer. It’s here to make you write, period. (You can worry about editing what you’ve written after you’ve written it!)
  • Kamikaze mode is the BY FAR the best mode to use—Since it deletes your writing if you stop for more than a few seconds, you are forced to keep writing in order to not get anything deleted. If you are serious about getting writing done, this is the mode for you.
  • If you’re attempting this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge, Write or Die will easily help you reach your daily word count (of 1667 words).
  • Remember to select all the text you wrote and copy it—There is no way to save your text using this tool, and once you navigate away from the page, everything you’ve written is gone. That’s why you need to copy what you wrote and paste it into a Word document in order to save it.
By using this writing productivity tool, you are learning to shut off your inner editor and just getting writing done. And that, Procrastinating Writers, is what it truly takes to be a successful writer.

3 Tools You Need to Write A Novel

There are lots of writers whose dream is to write a novel, but so many of those same writers never follow through with it.

Why, you ask?

Because they don’t know the three tools every writer needs to complete a novel. Here are the three tools that will take you from novel-writing dream to novel complete.

1) A Desire to Write a Novel–Though this seems kind of obvious, you’d be surprised how many writers really have no desire to write a novel, they just dream about doing it because they think “that’s what writers are supposed to want.” Not true. Writers should write whatever it is that makes them happy, whether that be a screenplay, short story or a novel.

Writing a novel takes a lot of hard work and commitment. It’s not something that you can complete by closing your eyes and wishing for it to happen. You have to actually work at it and spend time each day (or as often as you’re able to) writing.

Having a desire to write a novel from start to finish makes the entire process that much easier because when you desire something, and I mean truly desire it, not just desire it because you think you should, it makes the overall process a lot more fun and you’ll be more willing to stick with it.

2) A Deadline–Every writer who wants to complete a novel must have a deadline. Deadlines are extremely important to writing success because it gives you a specific endpoint.

Having a deadline to work towards will help you make better decisions when it comes to “should I write tonight or should I watch that rerun of Pretty Woman on TBS?”

And an in-flexible deadline works better than a deadline that you can change. This being because when you know there is no way of getting out of the deadline, you’ll also be able to think clearer about other activities that aren’t as important as getting your writing done.

3) Support–All writers need support to get their writing done. This is especially important for procrastinating writers. Having someone to answer to will keep you writing.

The support can come from a friend, a spouse, a sibling, a parent, neighbor, writing coach or a combination of them all–anyone who will keep you on track, give you a pep talk when you’re uninspired or stuck, and encourage you along the way.

When I was gearing up to write my novel, I needed to first figure out if I actually did have a desire to write one. After realizing that I did, I hired a writing coach to help me stay on track (since I’m a major procrastinator, I knew self-set deadlines wouldn’t work for me).

Her and I set a deadline that seemed reasonable (Sept. 22, which was my 25th birthday), and we were off and running. I wrote as much as I could each week, and turned in to my coach 2 chapters every Tuesday. Then we had a 30-minute meeting each Thursday to talk about the chapters I turned in and for her to give me a pep talk whenever I needed one (which was pretty often as it turns out).

Knowing that I had a long-term deadline and a weekly deadline to hit made me procrastinate less and made me get my novel finished on time (early, actually. I finished a week and a half before my deadline!).

So tell me…how did you get your novel written? And if you still haven’t written your novel, but you truly desire to, try out my three tools for novel writing success, and be sure to let me know how it goes.