Let me begin with this statement: this is not a sponsored post. There are no #ads, referral links or anything of the sort with the following items. I merely wish to share what I use to write with, and hopefully the information you will find useful. Especially if you’re just starting out with your writing journey. Now that that’s over with, let us get on with the rest of this post!
Every writer – old or young, new or seasoned – has to find what writing tools and methods work for them. That’s why there are so, so many how-to books, blogs and “experts” on the subject. I put “experts” in quotations because I wholeheartedly believe that nobody should tell anyone else “this is how you should write.”
How elitist and condescending is that?
When I first joined writing Twitter, I became increasingly overwhelmed with all the advice, write-tips and “do’s and don’t’s” people would post. It took a very long time to learn how to drown out that noise and formulate my own.
All that leads in to today’s topic: The Writing Tools I Can’t Live Without. Feel free to use anything, or not use anything at all. It’s completely up to you! I just wanted to share what’s been working for me these last few months after I reassessed my writing habits. Let’s take a look at those tools now.
Microsoft’s Word and OneNote
Let’s face the facts. What works for one writer may not work for another. That’s why there’s so SO many writing programs and word processors out there. From the manual typewriter to Word to Scrivener, my choice has forever been Microsoft Word.
That’s not to say I haven’t tried other tools and programs. For instance, I found Google Docs severely limiting, choppy and not conducive for writing big projects. It’s a decent word processor if you need something easy, simple and web-based. And, when I had to use Google Docs, it was because the only computer I had at the time was a crappy Chromebook that wouldn’t let you add anything but Google “approved” apps.
The day I got this laptop in the mail was the happiest I’d been in a very long time. Why? Because it’s a Dell, and I can install whatever word processor I want onto it. A creature of habit, I turned back to Microsoft’s Word and OneNote. I love Word because it’s familiar. I can still do a lot with it without feeling overwhelmed. And I love OneNote, because I can easily create different sections that automatically save without my always having to refresh or hit “save” myself.
If you’re a writer, you know the importance of backing. your. work. up. Not much goes wrong with Word or OneNote files when it comes to backing them up. And, thus far, they have both been quite reliable for my current needs.
A Small Notebook
Contrary to what *some* people in the writing community believe, the art of using pen and paper is most certainly not a dying method of putting down words. In fact, stationary and writing supplies as a whole are still hugely popular.
While I may no longer write by hand, I love having small stacks of notes on my desk just waiting to be included in the story. Then I can watch the stack go down as the notes are digitized and there’s a great sense of satisfaction that comes along with that. It helps me feel like I’ve accomplished something, in a very visual manner.
I also love keeping a journal for historical novel research, because if I lose those digital resources, I can always refer back to the original notes. Call me a dork if you like, but I’ve kept everything from my first research stint from way back in 2016. They’re also great sources of scene or knowledge inspiration. Something that doesn’t always come from something digitized.
Speaking of research, this leads into the next writing tool I can’t live without: non-fiction.
Words cannot express how much I love non-fiction for how effectively it aids those of us who write fiction. Whether you’re looking for assistance on grammar, story structure or plot, there’s a book for that. If you need to know what women wore in the mid 1800s, there’s a book for that. And if you need maps that cover a certain area, there are books for that, too.
If you’re not versed in research or confident in where to find the information you need, there will always be someone willing to lend a hand. Not only that, but there are countless resources out there dedicated to the art of non-fiction.
As you can see, I will always make a case for non-fiction.
Ah Canva. My new and sometimes frustrating friend. But I still love to love it, and love to hate on it (sometimes). There’s a fine line between a basic graphics service and one like Canva. I just haven’t found it yet.
For now, Canva is so much better than Ribbit (I don’t think that one exists anymore) or PicMonkey or BeFunky. Don’t get me wrong. I used PicMonkey when I was in college to create banners for all the fan fictions I was writing instead of doing my homework. You can’t make banners for your homework (unless, of course, you went to school for graphic design). I’ve also used BeFunky. It’s much better for creating social media banners without the graphic files being too large to begin with (that’s a problem I’ve yet to figure out with Canva. Hence the love/hate relationship).
Most certainly one can use any combination of graphics programs they want. I prefer sticking with one program at a time. And with Canva I can create blog post preview videos, different types of collages or WIP aesthetics, and so on.
Until something better comes along, it looks like Canva and I will just have to get along.
Snacks are a necessary tool for writing. I don’t think I need to elaborate upon this any more than this. Snacks.
What does your writing routine look like? What tools help you through a writing session? Do you use any online resources or do you prefer keeping things old school?
And don’t be afraid to admit it if one of the tools you can’t live without is a snack!