Hello, heroines! I’m back this last lovely Monday in February with a new writing post. I’ve finally gotten into a groove with my fiction writing after a bit of a hiatus (my blog writing routine this year has been on point if I do say so myself), and I thought it would be helpful to give you a quick look at the writing tools I use to keep myself motivated and getting the most out of writing time.
That’s not to say that I use all 10 writing tools each time I write, but I do use all of these tools frequently.
If you’ve been following along on my journey for a while, you know that Scrivener is my go-to tool for my writing projects. (It wasn’t always, but I got back into it about 18 months ago.) Once you get past the learning curve or use my free minimalist outline template, Scrivener is the best way for staying organized while writing, whether you’re the type of writer who writes straight through from beginning to end or skips around from scene to scene.
2. Pacemaker Planner
If you’ve ever participated in NaNoWriMo (let’s be friends!), Pacemaker Planner will look familiar to you. It’s an easy way to keep track of your writing progress, but it can be configured in about a million different ways. I like that the free account will let you set up two writing plans, and it’s also nice to be able to track your progress based on where you are versus where you need to be to complete your writing project on time.
You can read my full tutorial for using Pacemaker Planner for more details about this feature and more.
3. Your writer’s notebook
Most of these 10 writing tools are electronic or app-based, but sometimes there’s nothing like pulling out a physical notebook and writing down the story idea or quote or word you don’t want to forget. I use my writing notebook for those little flashes of inspiration that appear randomly throughout the day. Typically these aren’t story-specific notes or the kinds of things I’ll need to refer back to often, but the ones I can look through for an inspiration boost on those days when I’m not feeling like a writer.
Now, when it comes to the important stuff and the notes you’ll need to check on a regular basis, I use Evernote. I set up a Notebook for each new writing project and then create new Notes for things I want to keep accessible no matter where I am: Research, What If? lists, writing that I type down quickly on my phone while I’m on the bus.
Evernote has app and desktop functionality, which makes it easy to pull up and use from any location and in any way that you please.
5. Focus Keeper App
Have you ever heard of the Pomodoro technique? Based on the idea of a tomato-shaped kitchen timer, it’s a time management system that uses 25-minute periods of focused work followed by 5-minute breaks. Sometimes it works for me when I write, sometimes it doesn’t, but I love the Focus Keeper app regardless. It allows me to follow the strict 25 to 5 of the Pomodoro technique when I’m at work or doing household chores.
But then if I want to do a different unit of time for my writing, I can easily reset the timer. It’s perfect for writing along with the NaNoWordSprints in November! There’s a paid version of the app, but I’ve been perfectly happy with the free version.
6. Prime Music
Maybe you’re the kind of writer who likes to write in complete silence or ambiance background sounds, and if it works for you, that’s great! If you like to write to music, however, I cannot recommend Prime Music more. As someone who sings every chance she can get, I have to listen to instrumental music to truly focus in on my writing, and they have the best curated playlists that I’ve found. Here are a few of my favorites:
- For Reading: Epic Fantasy
- Classical for Writing
- For Reading: Historical Fiction
- Scores for Focus
- For Reading: Adventure
7. A good book
We’ve all seen the famous quote from Stephen King’s On Writing:
If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.
I’m trying to take that advice to heart this year and made my Goodreads goal an ambitious 50 books in 2019. I’m also working to read more diversely and stretch myself with themes and genres that are outside my norm. But it’s been great to rediscover how much a good book can inspire you to write and also how it can inform your writing. I recently finished A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab, and I immediately wanted to jump into my current WIP and not stop until I finished!
8. Headspace App
There’s a trend that I’ve noticed lately among writers that there’s no such thing as writer’s block. That it’s all in our heads and we need to stop giving the idea power by using it as an excuse. I don’t necessarily know how I feel about that sentiment (some days the words flow and some days they don’t), but I do know that I’ve developed a way to trick my brain into writing on my schedule. And it’s all thanks to the Headspace app.
Headspace is my favorite meditation program. If you’re a beginner to meditation, that’s totally fine. They have week-long daily routine that guides you through it. And honestly, the idea behind tricking your brain into writing has more to do with setting up a routine than meditating, though it’s my favorite way to jump start the creative process.
9. An inspiration board on Pinterest
I tend to be a very visual person, and I also like to have a lot of character details squared away before I begin to write. Appearance, name, motivation, goals… I like to know it all!
That’s why it’s helpful for me to create inspiration boards for each writing project through my Pinterest page. I create subfolders to each board with character inspiration, research, location inspiration, anything relevant to the project that I come across while I’m pinning. Then, when I’m stuck or not really feeling a certain aspect of the story, I scroll through my board and remember the elements to the story that really sparked an interest for me! You can check out all the boards I’ve created for my current WIPs on my Writing page.
10. Werdsmith App
This app is the newest of my 10 writing tools. I’ve been using the Werdsmith app over the past month as I’ve been diving into a new story, and I like it enough that I wanted to share and get your feedback! It’s a great app for jotting down a few paragraphs when you’re without your laptop, and I also like that it reminds me to write at a certain time each night. It’s very simple to use, and so far the free version of the app has been good enough for me.
What is the writing tool that you can’t live without? I’d love to know what I’m missing on this list!
P.S. Looking for something more specific about one of these tools? Check my writing archives, which contains everything from NaNoWriMo prep to blogging tips.