Browsing Tag

writing tools

Tool Time Tuesday – Writing Inspiration Version: Ancient Origins

Tool Time Tuesday

Every other Tuesday, we talk about the different tools available for writers to make life easier (theoretically 😉 ).

Today’s Tool: Ancient Origins

Platform: browser

Cost: $0

What it does:

I love websites that kick start my creativity, that inspire my muse, and spawn ideas. Writing inspiration is a big thing for me!

I ran across this website because someone retweeted an interesting article. And then I got lost down the rabbit hole!

Now, I don’t take everything on this site as gospel. The titles are a bit click-baity and the writing is definitely sensationalist in nature. However, the stories are interesting. I use it as a jumping-off point. I find cool history to delve into, fascinating stories of people and events, fun posts about weird tools and implements.
This isn’t just for historical writing though. If you’re writing fantasy, you can definitely get ideas for how to create your governing system, or events that you can model for your own civilizations. There are some nice articles about unexplained phenomena — these can be the basis of horror stories, fantasies, or mysteries. You can take an old mystery and either modernize it or set a detective story in that era. You could even have that mystery come to haunt us in modern times.

You can definitely find some great writing inspiration here 🙂

Check out some sample headlines from Ancient Origins:

She Met the Devil, Escaped a Dragon, and Survived Several Attempts on Her Life: The Remarkable Story of St. Margaret of Antioch
Tibet’s Valley of the Kings: What Hidden Treasures Lie Within This Imperial Tibetan Graveyard?
The Ancient Kingdom of Colchis: A Legendary Land of Plenty, Conflict, and the Golden Fleece
The Brutality and Delicacy of Samurai Armor: Superior Protection with a God-like Aesthetic

Can you find writing inspiration in those? I can see it without even having read the articles! (But I do want to read the articles 😉 )

Where to get it: Click the linky

Do you have a writing tool that you absolutely can’t live without? Drop a line to me down below and tell me about it!

 

Stay awesome!

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Ancient Origins.

Feeling Like a Writing Failure? 5 Tips to Overcome That Mindset

Writing

So much about having a writing career, whether it’s your main career or a supplemental career, can seem as if it’s about failure. Not finishing stories, rejection, years of writing without finding commercial success. It can be difficult to remain committed, enthusiastic.

Yes, a career in writing can be difficult. But so much of it is about mindset. It’s about how you frame the things that happen.

Last week, we talked about achieving goals. But what happens when you don’t achieve the goal? How do you manage when the story idea you thought was awesome turns out not to work as well as you’d expected? Or how do you keep writing when that short story has been rejected for the 28th time?

In an industry that is marked by hard work — yes, writing is hard — and rejection, how do we take those “failures” and keep going?

Framing, Reframing, and Mindset

The first thing I try to do is reframe my “failure.” You might notice I keep putting that word in quotes. It’s because I’ve discovered that failure isn’t concrete. It isn’t universal. I get to decide what is a success and what is a failure. If I decide that something isn’t a failure, then guess what? It isn’t.

My favorite thing to de-failure is rejections.

Wait, what?

I know, that sounds weird, right? How can a rejection not be a failure? I could tell you that it’s because not all rejection is about the work. Sometimes agents or editors will reject because they just contracted a similar piece. Or because they have enough of that genre. Or maybe just because they’re feeling overloaded and don’t want to take anything new on unless it *really* grabs them. None of that is an indictment on the work.

I could tell you those things. But really, it’s because when I finally started sending my work out, I decided that there are a certain number of rejections between me and the acceptance. And every time I get one, that’s another one out of the way. I get to mark it off the list. So, in this case, rejection is actually success.

I’m very good at mind games on myself! 🙂

And why not? So much of writing is perseverance. If I have a chance to choose whether something is positive or negative, how does it serve me to choose the negative, the thing that hurts my feelings and makes me sad or upset? I suppose if I responded to negative with renewed vigor in that “I’ll show you!” sort of way, choosing the negative would serve me. And for some people, that’s an awesome way to do things! For me, though, the negative is truly that. It can freeze me in my tracks. So why should I choose to do that to myself?

Instead, I choose the positive and use that to create momentum for my life. There are so many instances where we can choose the positive spin rather than the negative spin, but we tend to default to the negative. I don’t know whether that’s because we’re human or because of the way we’re socialized. Regardless, we don’t have to do that in our writing!

Mindset isn’t just about playing these mind games with yourself, though. What happens when you don’t reach a goal, like a daily word count? Say you’ve decided that you’re writing 500 words per day. And then you miss a day. Not for a valid reason, but just because you decided not to write that day.

Are you the type of person who then decides not to write the next day too, because you’re already behind and so what’s the point? Are you the type that will beat yourself up for missing so much that you make yourself too miserable to write the next day? Do you make legitimate-sounding excuses for why you didn’t write (which, in turn, makes it easier to make excuses in the future for not writing)?

As you might imagine, none of those are particularly productive. What can you do instead?

5 Tips for Overcoming Failure

Forgive yourself

Getting rejected or struggling with a story — or any other thing that you feel didn’t happen the way you felt it should have — is not a reflection of your worth. Forgive yourself. It’s very important not to spend a lot of time reprimanding yourself or feeling bad for missing your goal. All you do is make yourself miserable and then how much good work will you get done? Not much, more likely.
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Why be defeated twice, once by our mistakes and again by our attitude toward them?
~~ Lowell L. Bennion

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Assess why you didn’t make your goal

One of the first steps to fixing a problem is to figure out what went wrong. So what went wrong? Did you not have enough time to write? Or did you not manage your day well enough to get your writing done? Were you just being lazy? Were you too stressed out to write? Be really honest with yourself here. If you were just being lazy, then admit that. No one else is going to judge you and you’ve already forgiven yourself. So be honest with yourself about the real reason, because knowing that is the only way you’re going to be able to address it.

Brainstorm ways to avoid whatever problem caused you not to make your goal

This can be something as simple as putting aside fifteen minutes at a set time each day to write. Or something more complex, such as creating a punishment if you don’t do your writing. Perhaps every time you don’t write, you must donate $5 to a charity, cause, or organization you would never support. If you’re not writing because you’re stuck, consider working on a different project. Or creating a big brain dump of all the things you *could* do in your stuck story.

Make a list of all the things you’ve brainstormed here. They’re all tools in your writers’ toolbox.

Hang out with writers

Writing is solitary. Even when we collaborate, the actual writing is solitary. If you’re in a rut, go find your tribe. Let the enthusiasm and excitement of other writers rub off on you! You might go to a writers conference, a Meetup group in your area, or even just find a Facebook group for writers. Let your tribe invigorate you!

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BICHOK – Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard

Sit your butt down and start writing. Even if you’re writing, “I hate writing” over and over again. Even if you’re writing about how you’re having trouble writing. It doesn’t matter. Just get back on that damn bike and pedal!

What are ways that you come back from failure? Share with me below!

Tool Time Tuesday: Duotrope.com

Tool Time Tuesday

Every other Tuesday, we talk about the different tools available for writers to make life easier (theoretically 😉 ).

This week’s TTT is more about a resource than a tool.

Today’s Tool: Duotrope.com

Platform: web browser

Cost: $5/month or $50/year + 7 day free trial

 

What it does: Duotrope has been around for a long time as a database of short story markets. You can find magazines, e-zines, and anthologies that are looking for fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and even art.

Duotrope has a great search function that allows you to search by genre, market type (magazine, antho, etc), payment/royalties level, and a lot of other options.

If you’ve already got some stories written, or if you’re looking for inspiration, you can go to the Theme & Deadline Calendar. This gives you a listing of the publications with chronological deadline dates (upcoming) and the theme of the stories their looking for. I’ve used this for inspiration more than once!

Probably one of the most useful features beyond the search function is the ability to see how long a market takes to respond and what their acceptance rates are. Now, this isn’t reported by the market itself, but by Duotrope users (which means it’s only as accurate as people’s participation).

When you get a response from a market, you go to their Duotrope page and click the Submission/Response link on the right. It will take you to a form where you can enter all the relevant info: the piece of work you submitted (which you have to enter on a separate form, but which is kept, so once you enter it, if you submit to multiple markets, you can just choose that work), when you submitted it, when you got a response and what that response was. Then Duotrope compiles that information along with other people who’ve entered the stats (provided there is enough input data) and displays the totals on the market’s page.

For example, you can see stats for Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine below as of this writing:

 

 

What I’ve noted above are just the highlights. You can also find editor interviews, stats that show you the fastest responding markets, as well as what users favorited the most. There’s also a stats page that breaks things down into market types and whether they charge fees to read. So tons of great info!

 

Where to get it: At any browser near you! Duotrope.com

Do you have a writing tool that you absolutely can’t live without? Drop a line to me down below and tell me about it!

 

Stay awesome!

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of me!

Tool Time Tuesday: Aeon Timeline 2

Tool Time Tuesday

Every other Tuesday, we talk about the different tools available for writers to make life easier (theoretically 😉 ).

Today’s Tool: Aeon Timeline 2

Platform: Mac & Windows

Cost: $50 and comes with a 20 day free trial

What it does:

Lets you map the timeline of your story, along with all your characters and where they fit within that timeline. You can also manage the relationships among characters, all with a great visual display.

This is a really cool tool, especially if you’re writing a larger, complex story. You can create characters, include pivotal moments on their personal timelines, and track their appearances in your story.

Looks! Pictures! 🙂

Like to see what your characters look like? You can also include pics (and links) in your entries.

You can do the same with settings — create an entry for them and then associate scenes with that setting. You’ll never lose track of where an event happened in your story ever again!

Create characters, settings, and events.

As implied above, you also create events or scenes along your timeline, and you can see your entire story as it looks in time. Another cool feature of Aeon Timeline is the ability to nest events, so you can see exactly what contributes to each scene. This also is a great help in making sure you’ve closed all your subplots and don’t have plot holes.

When you create events or characters, you can give them a “birth date” and so you can track the age of the character or events through the entire story. And you’re not limited to our own time or our way of tracking time. If you’re working with a spec fic story, you can create your own calendar with your own dating system, as needed.

Aeon Timeline 2 & Scrivener! Two great tastes that taste great together 🙂

One of the coolest aspects of Aeon Timeline 2 (and what eventually led me to get it) is that it integrates with Scrivener, so you can have your entire timeline right there, as you write.

That was a huge factor in its overall use. I don’t really like having to open multiple files to handle a project. I like everything to be in a single place. And this integration allows that to happen for my timeline. Great, great perk of this software! 🙂

Where to get it: The Aeon Timeline website – A note: One cool aspect is that when you purchase the program through the website, it covers both Windows and Mac licenses, so you get copies of both. So while Aeon Timeline 2 is available in the Apple AppStore, if you download it from there, rather than the program’s website, you won’t be able to get a complimentary copy in Windows format. So just keep that in mind as you’re buying 🙂

What do you think about Aeon Timeline 2? Do you have a writing tool that you absolutely can’t live without? Drop a line to me down below and tell me about it!

 

Stay awesome!

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Aeon Timeline.

2 Amazing Books Teach You How to Self-Edit Your Story

Craft of Writing

What I’m Listening To: “That’s Amore!” by Dean Martin — I’m feeling old school today 😉

Something Cool: I just signed up for TSA Pre-Check. I’ll let you know how it goes when I travel on it for the first time! Pre-publication edit: I was approved for this in 3 days! I’m not sure what that says for my dangerousness. o.O

~~

I hate doing revisions.

That might seem a pretty bold statement for someone who edits for a living.

When I was in my MFA program at Seton Hill University, the thing I always dreaded was doing my own revisions. I loved helping my fellow students improve their work. But my own stuff? Hated it.

Because I dislike it so much, I spent a lot of time reading different ways to approach self-editing. Now, a thing I’ve learned about myself recently is that, for myself, I can work the hell out of a system. Seriously, I can take a system (a self-editing system or really any other) and make it work for whatever situation I need it for. I just can’t make one up from scratch. So I took bits and pieces from a bunch of different places and worked them together, which ended up with me Frankensteining my own system.

And I think that’s the way most writers need to do it. Figure out the bits that work for you and work the hell out of them.

There have been two books, among many, that have stood out as the most helpful for me.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King

I first discovered this one during my grad program. It was one of the recommended books listed in the Writing Popular Fiction handbook. It’s also the one that I consistently encourage the authors who work with me to get. It is an invaluable resource.

Pros

  • It explains, in detail, why things work or don’t work and why they’re the gold standard (or not).
  • It’s been around for a very long time and both the authors know their stuff.
  • It’s easy to find information between the Table of Contents and the detailed Index.

Cons

  • It’s a little bit dry by today’s standards.

Even with the dryness, this is still my #1 go-to for self-editing help.

This book was really the one that explained so much to me about why good writing is good writing. It has dedicated chapters on voice, internal monologue, show and tell (because that’s something we’re all familiar with!), dialogue mechanics and lots of other stuff. There’s so much good info packed between these covers!

Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell

This is a book in the Write Great Fiction series put out by Writer’s Digest Books. This one is an easier read, because it’s broken up into smaller bits with sidebars and other visual breaks that make it feel easier on the eye. And the information here is just as valuable as SEFW. There’s a bit of overlap between the two books, of course, but this also covers its own ground as well.

Pros

  • It’s an easy read with a lot of visually interesting asides.
  • It’s written in the first person, in a very conversational style, so it’s as if the author is speaking directly to you.
  • It’s a great book to read even before you get to self-editing, like while you’re working on your first draft.

Cons

  • None really.

One of the cool things about this book is that it covers a lot of general writing topics that writers struggle with, such as middles (you know, that part of the book where you want to throw your manuscript into the fire?), point of view, exposition, as well as the standards like show and tell.

I found that the first third or so of the book is very useful before you even write your first draft. There are sections on characters, theme, descriptions, dialogue, etc. This part of the book covers most aspects of what you need to know to get things pretty clean on that initial draft, which, of course, makes the revisions easier!

Both books summarize their chapters and provide exercises to practice what you’ve learned. And both books should be on your shelf! 🙂

Do you own Self Editing for Fiction Writers or Revision & Self-Editing? What do you think of them?


 

 

 

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.

Tool Time Tuesday! OneTab

Tool Time Tuesday

Every other Tuesday, we talk about the different writing and organizational tools available for writers to make life easier (theoretically 😉 ).

Today’s Tool: OneTab

Platform: This is a browser extension and is available for Chrome and Firefox. (Sorry, IE users!)

Cost: Free!

This one isn’t strictly writing related, but it’s a great organizational tool for your research or for when you have all those tabs open and are feeling really overwhelmed.

What it does:

OneTab gives you the ability to take all your open tabs and shrink them into a single, easily used webpage with links to each of your previous tabs. Here’s how it works:

To send all your open tabs to OneTab, simply click the funnel icon that shows up in your browser’s toolbar. This creates a Onetab with all of those sites in one grouping.

Photo courtesy of OneTab

To send a single tab to OneTab, right-click on the site and choose OneTab -> Send only this tab to OneTab. You also have the option to send all tabs except that one to OneTab, or all tabs to the right or left of that tab to OneTab.

Once your tabs are in OneTab, you can drag and drop to reorder them, including moving them to other groupings. The only way to create separate groupings, though, is to send more than one tab to OneTab. But once you’ve created the new grouping, moving the links is simple.

I really find this grouping feature to be the most useful, and I think it’s especially helpful for writers as an organizational tool. You can group all of your research tabs by subject; you can group together conferences and conventions; you can have an ongoing list of blogs you like to read. This makes OneTab pretty powerful for keeping all that information organized and easily accessible.

 

OneTab is defaulted to deleting the link once you click on it to open a tab, but you can disable this in the Options. What doing that means is you can have a grouping of commonly used links and keep it, without having to re-send it to OneTab every time you use it. If you choose to leave the default of deleting the link once it’s opened, you can always override that on an individual basis by right-clicking and opening the link in a new tab. This will keep a single link in OneTab without deleting it.

Want to share your OneTab? That’s super-easy. You can click on “Share all as web page” in the upper right hand corner. It will create a web page with all of your OneTab groupings/links on it. You can share by copy/pasting the URL or, if you want to share via your phone or tablet, you can scan a QR code to get the URL. Handy way to share your new organizational tool, huh?

Where to get it: You can get it for the Chrome browser or the Firefox browser.

Do you have a writing or organizational tool that you absolutely can’t live without?

Drop a line to me down below and tell me about it!

 

Stay awesome!

 

 

 

Tool Time Tuesday: Write or Die 2

Tool Time Tuesday, Writing

Tool Time Tuesday!

Every other Tuesday, we talk about the different tools available for writers to make life easier (theoretically 😉 ).

Today’s Writing Tool: Write or Die 2

Platform: web, Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS

Cost: Free to use on the web or $20 for desktop versions or $9.99 for iOS

What this writing tool does: In short, it makes you write.

Write or Die is one of the writing tools that’s been in my box for a long time. I’ve been using the paid version since v1; and v2 has added some bells and whistles that I don’t really use much, but the strength of this tool is that it encourages you (very strongly, if you set it up that way) to stop lollygagging and actually get words down on the page. How does it do this? Well…

There are a lot of options for how it encourages you to write, which makes it really customizable as far as writing tools go. But the general gist is this: you tell it how long you want to write and what your word count goal is for that session. Then you tell it what consequences you want if you’re not writing. Version 2.0 also adds rewards for accomplishing your goal. I don’t use the rewards too much — which are mainly adding nice photos to your writing page or playing good sounds or music. I find these to be a distraction, so I don’t use them, but I am sure a lot of people love it. That’s what makes this a great writing tool. There’s something for everyone!

I respond better to consequences when it comes to keeping my fingers moving on the page and here there are a couple different options. You can go with Startle mode, which begins when you stop typing. You get a short grace period (which you set) and then your screen turns pink. It gets systematically darker over the seconds you continue to not-write, until it becomes bright red. At that point, the program starts making the most obnoxious noises. All this continues until you start typing again.

Kamikaze mode, which, of course, you can set (or not!) used to eat yWriting tool for the iPad and iPhone too!our words when you stopped typing. But Dr. Wicked has made a change there too. Now it just disemvowels your words. Yep. It removes all the vowels from your words. How’s that for freaky?

There are a lot of other little bells and whistles, like custom playlists and persistent writing stats to keep up with your productivity. It also tracks average words per minute, all time highs and lots of other stuff. It’s a really great little writing tool!

I definitely wouldn’t get through National Novel Writing Month without it! It’s also useful in one of the steps I outline in my post Get More Writing Time: Find It in the Margins that went up yesterday, as a matter of fact!

Where to get it: Write or Die 2

Do you use Write or Die? Let me know in the comments!

Do you have a writing tool that you absolutely can’t live without? Drop a line to me down below and tell me about it!

Stay awesome!

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Dr. Wicked.

Get More Writing Time: Find It in the Margins

Writing

What I’m Listening To: Paper Gods by Duran Duran — because, yknow Duran Duran

Something Cool: The new Broadchurch season starts next week! Squeee!

~~~

What’s your biggest writing struggle?

One of the most common things I hear from writers about why they’re not writing is that there isn’t enough time. We’re all so busy these days with professional, family, and social commitments. It’s understandable that sometimes there doesn’t seem to be enough time to write. So let’s talk about how we can write more with the time we have.

If you’re anything like I was, you feel like you need a certain amount of time that is dedicated to writing in order to get anything accomplished. I’d suggest that this is the first thing that needs to be addressed in getting writing done. And here’s how we’re going to do it!

Figure out how much writing you can do in 15 minutes

You can time yourself with a digital or analog timer, but I recommend using Write or Die 2, either the free version which can be used on the web, or the paid version, which can live on your desktop. WoD2 is better than a traditional timer, because it encourages you not to dawdle, not to sit and stare at the screen for the limited amount of time you have to write. It keeps you writing.

Set the timer for 15 minutes and get going. No pausing to ponder your next word. Just write. Once the time expires, see how many words you’ve gotten down. You might be surprised. I discovered that I can easily write 400 words in 15 minutes. I can write 500 words if I’m really in the zone, but usually 400 is my average. That shocked me when I discovered it! I’d always thought myself a slow writer. But, apparently, I was wrong.

So figure out how much you can write in 15 minutes. I’ll bet it’ll be more than 250 words. And 250 words is a whole page.

Do a little planning ahead

Plotters won’t have a problem with this, but pantsers might. If you’re a “write by the seat of your pants” type, the idea of outlining might make you nauseated. Luckily, I’m not asking you to do that 🙂

Even those who are pantsers usually have some idea of what’s going to happen in the next scene, likely in the next couple scenes. Keep a writingsingle document where you just jot down a few words about what’s going to happen next. I’d suggest adding to it after each scene you complete. Just note a sentence or two — nothing more detailed than you want to write — about the main point or plot point of the next scene. This is especially important if you’re done with your writing for the day.

Create a mobile system for your writing

So often, we’re stuck in a doctor’s office or God forbid, at the DMV. We’re all rushrushrush and then w…a…i…t. So work out a way to access information about your story from your phone or tablet. Keep your work on Dropbox or another cloud service. At the very least, keep the list we just talked about — your “Next Scene” list — in this place, so you can get to it via your mobile device.

Pull it all together

You’re pretty smart; you’ve probably already figured this out by now. Or at least have an idea of what I’m about to say.

Professional writers — the ones who live off their writing — got there because they didn’t let a little thing like not having enough time keep them from writing. You shouldn’t either.

With the things we’ve put in place, you can write anywhere, with anything. Even if you only have your phone. If you’re waiting for an appointment, you can pull out your phone, look at your “Next Scene” list, open a new document and write. Or pull out a small notebook.

If you’re driving, instead, you can open a voice recorder on your phone and record the story. When you have 20 minutes before the kids come home from school, you can open the “Next Scene” list, then start writing. And if you know that you can get 300 words in 15 minutes, you know you can write a page right then.

Are these ideal? Of course not. But they’re doable. Workable. And that’s what we’re looking for. A way to get stuff done, even if the situation isn’t ideal.

Our lives are very busy, but we also have a lot of margin — time in between obligations that is often wasted because we’re waiting for someone or something. You can use this time for yourself, to further your goals as an author. And if you can manage to squeeze just 15 minutes of writing in a day, you’ll be doing awesome! Remember:

One page per day = one novel at the end of the year.

That year is going to go by anyway. If you can find 15 minutes in the margins of each day, you’ll reach your goal. You can do it!

Do you have writing hacks that give you more time to write? Drop a note in the comments and share with your fellow writers!

 

 

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.

Tool Time Tuesday: The Writing & Revision Tracker Spreadsheet

Tool Time Tuesday

Every other Tuesday, we talk about the different tools available for writers to make life easier (theoretically 😉 ).

Today’s Tool: Jamie Raintree’s Writing & Revision Tracker Spreadsheet

Platform: Your favorite spreadsheet program

Cost: $8 — and SO worth it!

 

What it does: Allows you to track your daily writing on multiple projects, both new writing and revisions.

 

This stuff is amazeballs, no joke. Jamie’s spreadsheet allows you to set up to 8 different projects and create both overall and monthly goals for each (the monthly goals is new for 2017!).

Click for larger image

There are 12 monthly pages (obvs) and on each page, you have a calendar that shows you how many total words you’ve written each day on all projects, based on the chart you use on the lower half of the page. In the Writing column, you input the number of words you’ve written each day on that project. In the Revision column, you put the number of pages revised. I suppose you could do words, but that’s really hard to assess in revisions, so pages make much more sense. Then these are all totaled up across projects for the daily/weekly totals above.

In the top right quadrant of the monthly sheets, you get graphs showing your progress toward your monthly goal, color coded for each project.

The very last page is the Year End sheet, which shows you all your monthly totals, as well as the yearly total and the percentage complete based on the goal you set. You have this for both your writing and your revisions.

Click to enlarge

If you’re like me and you find motivation in visual signs of progress, this is the spreadsheet for you! It’s not always easy to see how far you are when you’re writing. But this tool really lets you see how great you’re doing (or where you need a bit more work 😉 )!

This sheet is always open on my desktop and I can’t recommend it enough!

Where to get it: You can find it at Jamie Raintree’s blog! She even has a video showing all the cool stuff it does. Tell her Venessa sent you 😉

When you do get it, let me know what you think about it in the comments!

Do you have a writing tool that you absolutely can’t live without? Drop a line to me down below and tell me about it!

 

Stay awesome!

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Jamie Raintree.

Tool Time Tuesday: Scrivener

Tool Time Tuesday

Every other Tuesday, we talk about the different tools available for writers to make life easier (theoretically 😉 ).

Today’s Tool: Scrivener

Platform: Windows, Mac, iOS

Cost: $40 (Windows), $45 (Mac), $20 (iOS)

What it does:

Scrivener does it ALL! If you’re in writer circles, you’ve likely heard of Scrivener. It’s an all-in-one writing tool. I like to call it a digital writing notebook. In additional to housing your stories, it also can keep track of your character sketches, your settings, your outline (if you do that sort of thing 😉 ), and pretty much any research or background material you need to store for your writing. And it’s all kept in one place — your project.

Now, Scrivener does have a bit of a learning curve and can seem daunting when you first open it. But there are lots of tutorial videos scattered all over the net, as well as online courses you can take in order to learn more about it. But I think most writers can work out the basics in about thirty minutes. And then you can figure out the other things you want to use in bits and pieces.

Some awesome features:

  • Easy organization of research material — all in one place!
  • Split screen – you can view your research/background material/outline at the same time you’re writing your story
  • Corkboard – for those who are visually inclined and like to move things around; when you move your cards, it rearranges the writing too
  • Outliner – makes it easy to write from an outline
  • Text editor/compiler – you can write your story in whatever font you like with whatever spacing you want. When you print, you “compile” to a separate document for printing, rather than printing directly. This allows you to assign whatever formatting you want to the compiled document. There are even preset compiles for different e-book types!
  • Writing targets & statistics – this is one of my favorite parts! You can easily see how many works/characters you have in any given section or selection of sections. And you can set a target work/character count per section or even per day. Great accountability tool!
  • Full screen – for those of us easily distracted, the full screen mode blocks out everything else, so we can focus strictly on our writing
  • Automatic backups – never lose work again!

There are even more features than listed here! Collections, Scrivenings, Snapshots, etc.

I keep all my writing in Dropbox, so that I can access it anywhere and on any of my machines. I haven’t tried out Scrivener for iOS, since I’m an Android girl, but I’ve been using Scrivener for Windows for several years now and I do all my writing there, from stories to blog posts to class materials.

Where to get it:

Scrivener for Windows

Scrivener for MacOS

Scrivener for iOS

Do you use Scrivener? How do you like it?

If you don’t, are you planning to give it a try? Let me know in the comments!