Tools of the Trade

There are a lot of things out there that can help writers be more productive. As I work in tech during the day, I enjoy using tech to help me by night… err, not really night, but as a writer. Sometimes I write at night… Shut up.

Ok. So. Anyway… Here is a list of things! What they are, what I think of them, and where to find them.

Scrivener:

From Scrivener’s website: “Scrivener is a powerful content-generation tool for writers that allows you to concentrate on composing and structuring long and difficult documents. While it gives you complete control of the formatting, its focus is on helping you get to the end of that awkward first draft.

I know a LOT of writers who use (and love!) Scrivener. Personally, I’m not a fan. I tried it out and it just wasn’t for me. It does have a lot of features and it’s a great way to add notes and manage character histories and things, but I found it too busy and chaotic and a bit too much like a reinvented wheel to be comfortable with. If you’re looking for something to help keep you organized and you don’t yet have a system of your own, try it out and see what you thing.

Habitica!

From Habitica’s website: “Habitica is a free habit building and productivity app that treats your real life like a game. With in-game rewards and punishments to motivate you and a strong social network to inspire you, Habitica can help you achieve your goals to become healthy, hard-working, and happy.

I LOOOOOOOVE Habitica. Love, love, love it. It’s a great tool for human-ing in general, but it lends itself to writing and creative activities ESPECIALLY well. For instance, I have “Write for 30 minutes” and “Read for 30 minutes” as habits (something I get in game points for every time I do), “Work on Creative Project”, “1000 Words!”, and “Edit 1k Words” as dailies (something I have to do every day or my in game character loses health) and I have all of my deadlines in as to dos (so that I can assign them to due dates and check my progress). It’s a nice reward system and a great way to keep track of what you’re working on and what’s due when in a handy place. I have definitely seen an improvement in my wordcounts since I started using Habitica.

 

Duotrope!

From Duotrope’s website: “Write. Re-write. Submit. The first two are up to you, but we can help with the third. Duotrope is an established, award-winning writers’ resource, and we’re here to help you spend less time submitting so you can focus on writing. Whether you’re experienced or just getting started… whether your creative leanings are literary or genre, factual or poetic… our listings cover the entire spectrum.

I’m going to say this right up front: Duotrope is a PAY site. That’s right, it costs money to use but it is SO worth it! Duotrope has been my go to source for market listings (which is, finding a place to send your stories after you’ve written them) for years. The site allows users to search for open submission slots via a wide array of criteria, so it’s easy to sort and filter through. They also have a great submission tracker to help keep you organized and make it simple to check in on what you’ve sent to whom and when. You can actually see statistics on certain markets (like their average acceptance rate and how long it usually takes them to respond to submissions) which can help you decide whether or not to send your stories to them. For me, Duotrope paid for itself within the first month I used it. I highly recommend it. But if you’re not into paying for things like that, check out The Horror Tree or any of the umpteen billion open call groups on social media. Just don’t forget to do your due diligence on whomever you sub to.

 

Freedom!

From Freedom’s website: “Freedom is the app and website blocker used by over 350,000 people to improve focus and productivity.

Ok, so Facebook and Twitter et al are things that exist. We live in an increasingly more connected world, and as such it can be hard to let go of that to focus on other things… like writing. I’ll admit, I am definitely guilty of this. Willpower and focus are probably the best way to deal with web addiction, but who among us hasn’t been tempted to just… take a peek at Facebook when the flow of words starts to trickle down? With a way to shut off internet access, making it harder than just opening up a browser window, Freedom  is a good way to give yourself an extra tap on the shoulder, reminding you that hey, YOU SHOULD BE WRITING! Of course, if you want to disable it, you can… but for me, the extra nudge is enough. Although I will admit I’m more likely to just shut off the WiFi switch on my laptop than actually use an app… and Freedom isn’t the only one out there, there are lots of different options just a google search away! I do also want to ad that, despite the horrible pun you’re about to read, Freedom isn’t free.

 

LeechBlock!

From LeechBlock’s website: “LeechBlock is a simple productivity tool: an extension for the Firefox web browser designed to block those time-wasting sites that can suck the life out of your working day. (You know: the ones that rhyme with ‘Blue Cube’, ‘Space Hook’, ‘Sticky Media’, ‘Quitter’, and the like.) All you need to do is specify which sites to block and when to block them.

LeechBlock is sort of similar to Freedom, at least my use of it is. It’s an extension for Firefox that allows you to effectively block certain websites, thus preventing you from frittering away your designated daily writing time (and trust me, you DO need designated daily writing time) on silly cat videos or stalking checking out other authors on Facebook or Twitter. Again, if you really want to waste your time, pretty much nothing is going to stop you from doing so, but LeechBlock provides a nice little reminder that you should be doing more productive things.

iA Writer!

From iA Writer’s website: “iA Writer is designed to provide the best writing experience on macOS, iOS and Android.

iA Writer is a nice, clean, simple writing application with lots of features and a familiar layout that makes it easy to learn, navigate, and use. It’s a step up from Notepad (even Notepad++) but without a lot of the clutter-y confusion you can encounter in other programs.

 

FocusWriter!

From FocusWriter’s website: “FocusWriter is a simple, distraction-free writing environment. It utilizes a hide-away interface that you access by moving your mouse to the edges of the screen, allowing the program to have a familiar look and feel to it while still getting out of the way so that you can immerse yourself in your work. It’s available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X, and has been translated into many different languages.

If you’re not down with the idea of shutting off your internet access or blocking certain websites that can damage your wordcount, FocusWriter might be a good middle ground for you. Instead of blocking things or eliminating your access to them, FocusWriter provides a distraction free environment by using its own window to hide distracting things. Not QUITE as militant as some of the other things on this list, but still a good way to stop looking at the notification bar or system tray every 26 seconds.

 

There you have it! Just some of the tools out there to help writers be more productive. Did I miss something? Do you use something different? Sound off in the comments!

 

 

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