My Favorite Writing Tools

Join the conversation about the best writing tools – any item or software without which your writing ritual wouldn’t be complete. Share some of your favorites in the comments!

Every writer is different. We have different approaches to the writing process. Some people have a more relaxed approach – getting ideas down without much regard to when, where, or how. Some of us need a routine and consistency. Me? I tend to be a mix of both. I need tools that are convenient and will enable me to write or brainstorm whenever or wherever inspiration hits. I also want to be able to easily organize my thoughts and keep track of character details.

From a convenience standpoint, pen and paper is the hands-down winner. I got a beautiful handmade leather journal in Seattle that I’ve designated as a repository for my writing ideas. It’s my favorite way to jot down bursts of inspiration, which can range from character/plot ideas to segments of larger pieces.

I am told that I am a very organized person. When I stare at my home office, the default repository for out-of-season clothes, luggage, and my book overflow, I don’t feel very organized. For others out there who want to organize their writing (but are rubbish organizing their writing space), there’s a wonderful program called Scrivener, available for Mac and PC. Scrivener is downloadable software that was designed with longer writing projects in mind. It allows you to organize and structure your manuscript, complete with summaries, notes, categories, and completion levels. When you delete something, it goes to a nice trash bin that enable you to restore text. You can drag and drop sections for quick reorganization. Scrivener also offers entire project sections dedicated to characters and settings, including templates you can customize (for example, I like to include “key conflicts” and more in-depth physical descriptions). There’s also a research feature that allows you to capture static websites or images. You can get a free trial here, which also includes less rambly descriptions of the software features.

For writing, I’ve tried out quite a few basic programs. I’ve found that I don’t enjoy writing in a full word processor, but more of a “no distractions” text program. OmmWriter is hands-down my favorite. It has simple backgrounds, music (or you can mute the program’s options and have iTunes on, which is my personal preference), and very rudimentary text customization. You can change the font size and the text window size, and that’s it. I prefer this one because it is a full-screen program, and it helps me focus on the words. I also incorporate WriteRoom into the mix, because it offers a customized background option and sometimes I need a change of pace. Both programs include a word count feature, for those interested.

Are there any favorites you’d recommend?

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