Friday, February 6, 2015

6 Writing Tools I Love

Today, as a companion to Tuesday's review Steal Like an Artist, I'd like to share 6 tools I use to help me in the artistic process. I have tried and tested them over countless chapters of editing, and many months of writing. Some are useful; some are fun; all I have found necessary for my creative process. And I hope they will help you out as well.

Poster My Wall
If I had to give up all the other writing tools, I think I would still keep Poster My Wall. This website lets you create posters with all kinds of special effects for free. The free version has a small watermark in the corner; but I've used it for countless War of Loyalties desktop backgrounds, as well as blog illustrations and even a birthday card. There is nothing more fun than using an easy and inspirational poster-making tool so you have something nice to look at while you're writing.

I know. It would look better with the character picture. 
Other poster websites I use often are diy.despair and Keep-Calm-o-matic and Wordle. I consider making posters and desktops, when not used in lieu of serious writing time, to be a fun and creative outlet that ties into the creative process. I am not good at drawing (if I had ever learnt I should have been a great proficient) or even doodling. So I make word art instead.

War of Loyalties

Hope That You Remember Me 

Pinterest
Pinterest is awesome. One of these days I plan to create a public War of Loyalties board. For now, I tuck away quotes and character pictures and objects that the characters love onto secret Pinterest stashes.

But, in the meantime, you can check out my Micheal board, an Irish novella which I have completed, (story snippets/characters are at the bottom of the board.) And my Hope that You Remember Me board, a Scottish novella which I plan to write sometime this spring.


Whenever I feel dry of creativity, or rather lonely in the midst of fictional characters, I find something to refresh my heart and pin it to a Pinterest board. Pinterest is where you can keep a stash of writing manna that catches your fancy, and better yet, caption it so you remember why you pinned it in the first place. I have also done a lot of historical research on Pinterest: clothing, medicines, houses, pictures of the Spanish flu victims, pictures of Folkestone. It's incredible for finding and cataloging the historical tidbits you need to remember.

Spotify



I discovered Spotify thanks to a casual mention by Suzannah Rowntree, and oh, boy, has it been a blessing. I don't like listening to music that's been added to YouTube without the artist's permission. Spotify seems to be fairly reputable, and it has been a relief to find a place where I can make music playlists and let them inspire my work. You get an odd bad/adult ad just like YouTube, so if you're young, please beware and ask your parents first. I generally mute the ads. But if you're looking for a good music resource, this one works. I have everything from Andrew Peterson to CCM to instrumental hymns to Celtic galore. Some days I listen to a character song on repeat, and other times I listen to music that lets my brain process what's going on in life so I can concentrate on my writing instead.

Scrivener
I've used everything to write my book from pen and ink to Microsoft Word. Over the Christmas holidays I switched to Scrivener, and it is my new Happy Place. Scrivener allows you to organize your research, writing, and character pictures into one program. You can do split-screen so you can write and look at a character picture at the same time. You can label each scene as 'done' or 'still in process'. And the word processing portion is just like Word, so you don't have to learn a new layout. It even imports all your computer fonts into the program. You can also use its name generator, thesaurus, and 'find and replace'. It has a handy 'snapshot' feature, which will take a snapshot of your current draft so you can restore your text back if you don't like your later edits. Sold on it yet? It's only $40, and if you win NaNo, you'll get a discount coupon.


Hemingway Editor
I prefer my writing to be clean, crisp, and understated. Whenever I have gone off the emotional diving board in story form, I have deeply regretted it for months afterwards. This is where Hemingway Editor comes in. Hemingway highlights all your adverbs, words that can be simplified, and sentences that are very hard to read. It doesn't force you to change them, but it finds them for you so you can weigh whether they add or subtract from your story. So much easier than searching for passive voice and adverbs in Microsoft Word, and it really helps you trim the unnecessary word fat. I got the desktop app for $5, but you can also edit your work right on the internet website, if you prefer, though you'll have to copy it to Word when you're done to save it.
from Martin Chuzzlewit, by Charles Dickens 
Pixabay
I recommend this site with caution. Please do not go on it without realizing that there are some pictures that aren't good. And I mean, not good. But if you know how to search right, then you'll do ok. Use the same caution you would use searching for pictures on Pinterest. Teacup is fine. Blonde girl is not. In fact, searching for any kind of people isn't the best idea, though I still do it on occasion.

I use this site for my blog photos now, and will continue to do so. The pictures are high-quality, completely royalty-free, and require no attribution. I want this blog to be known as a royalty free blog. For the most part it is; I have to go back and fix a few pictures, but I have that on the list to do soon. Pixabay photos are beautiful, inspirational, and there are plenty of good ones to choose from. Like I said, use caution, but know that this resource is out there. It's also connected with the Poster My Wall website, which is quite handy.

These are the tools I have used on a consistent basis for the last couple of years. They have suited my needs, my budget, and my writing styles. I love them all, and I hope you find them useful as well! :)

What are your favorite writing tools?

Blessings,
Schuyler

P.S. Oh, yes. And I also use the sticky notes program to keep track of plot ideas. But that system needs a little ironing out:

15 comments:

  1. Such a helpful post, thank you! I just recently started using scrivener and I love it! Bit of a learning curve, but overall I think it's a great tool. Will have to check out the other tools you mentioned.

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    1. I hope you find a lot of tools you're able to use here! The best thing about them is that most of them are free or minimal cost. For writing on a budget! :)

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  2. Fun post! I love the posters you've made from Poster My Wall...They're so cool. :D And Scrivener sounds amazing!

    >>"I have also done a lot of historical research on Pinterest: clothing...pictures of the Spanish flu victims, pictures of Folkestone."
    Ahem. :P "I meant something a little less mournful, dearest!"

    But I do love your Pinterest boards. :D Especially with all the nice quotes you've found and all the tidbits about WoL.

    Very nice post! You've got some great resources there! :D

    Love,
    Carrie-Grace

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    1. Pinterest is like writing candy. It tastes good and it's pretty, and it's a lot more fun, than, say, the vegetables of Hemingway Editor. :wasntme:

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  3. H'mmm. My top writing tools are:

    Word (in which I write)
    Thesaurus.com (for finding the mot juste)
    Wikipedia (because let's face it, no one else is going to tell you what colour shoes the Roman Emperor's chamberlain wore)
    Google (for everything Wikipedia doesn't tell me).

    I've never really been one for looking at pictures (unless there's something specific I need to know) and I never, ever listen to music while writing. I'm no fun at all!

    One other thing is indispensable: a big wide computer screen. I like to be able to see two and even three pages at once, so as to see where I've come from and where I'm going.

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    1. Yay for Wikipedia and Google. I use them all the time. But I prefer Word's thesaurus, since it keeps me from other internet distractions.

      Suzannah, dear. HAVE SOME FUN.

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  4. Oooh, all these wonderful writing goodies *swallows them all up delightfully* Thanks for sharing the links and tools that you find helpful for inspiration in your writing, Schuyler.

    I use Pinterest of course - perhaps a little too much - I am afraid I tend to overpin anything remotely related to Middle-Earth as you may well know by now ;). But it is quite amazing when it comes to inspiration; I am conscience of the fact that Pinterest helped inspire "A Love that Never Fails" in its very earliest forms, i.e. in the pictures of the evacuated children, the English countryside, the horror of the London Blitz, and the first photo for how my main character looks. I still find it is a great aid when I feel robbed of inspiration or ideas!

    And I love the secret boards tool. Isn't it so nice, when you get a plot/character or story idea, you can just make a personal board, and pin a few pictures to come back to later on?

    Which makes me so excited to see your "War of Loyalties" board. . . !! I can't wait to see it. I also love your new novella storyboard "Hope that You Remember Me" (Wow, this story sounds so good.)

    I've only done a few story-posters, but they are a lot of fun! I personally use the "PicMonkey" website, which is really good, (a little limited in font choices if you don't pay subscription), but it does the job. I will have to try out the websites you mentioned. I used to be pretty good at drawing and painting when I was younger, but my strong suit is shading/painting landscapes/moods/objects. I am not good with straight lines and geometric shapes; people look WEIRD under my pen, so I only resort to portraying them when I am attempting a Lewis-Carol type of story ;).

    Ooh, I love "Spotify" - so much! I use it all the time, for personal enjoyment, and for inspiration for my writing. Ah, yes, the ads are a nuisance - and I also wish that I could listen to free-streaming of tracks on my phone, without it always having to be on shuffle-mode, and with the nosy Spotify-suggestions. But still, it is a great blessing, and the amount of music albums available!!. . . lately I've been really enjoying Ferdanando Ortango's "Home" album. And movie soundtracks. They're simply wonderful!

    I simply use Microsoft Word, and it does fine by me, but Scrivener sounds amazing. I should like to use this program sometime! Also, I must check this Hemmingway Editor - I still get quite sloppy with my grammar. This will help me so much!

    I admire the fact that you try to keep your blog royalty-free with the images you use; I would like to do the same with mine, but I honestly find the time it takes to look up such photos so time-consuming, I can't afford that. Also I am not 100% sure I am up to navigating a website like Pixabey. I still use Pinterest photos, though I like to include the link to where I found that pin (hope I don't get into trouble for it, eventually). But I am trying to include more of my own photography on my blog, which in the long-run is quite an enjoyable addition to my posts, and adds the personal touch.

    It can become a delightful pastime to take close-up shots of my favourite books!

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    1. Pinterest is a gem for finding those character pictures. I also scroll through movie casts (of movies I know and am quite sure of) once I have my character's appearance firmly fixed in my mind. Having a face is nice, but I like to have it in my mind first and then choose an actor to match it.

      I've used PicMonkey as well, and enjoy it's different features, though I forget that it exists! I would like to use it more often, especially for collages. The collage website I used previously (not Poster My Wall) changed their watermark to a huge ugly one, so I can't use it anymore without paying.

      That's a great idea to use your own photographs! I fear me I have neither the time nor the patience to take good pictures, and am forced to content myself with the superior works which I can find for free on the internet. :)

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  5. I loved every bit of this post. It's fun to get a mini-tour of your writing world. My favorite things were Scrivener (the great love of my life...it makes me a better, or at least a far more organized person than I am on my own), and your "Hope That You Remember Me" board. I am so looking forward to that story!

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    1. I enjoyed writing this post, and I'm glad you enjoyed reading it! Not mentioned were my trusty tray-table, beloved ASUS, and black mugs of H2O. They are indispensable.

      I can't wait to show you HTYRM. I think you will like it, and as E. gave me the action theme I'm giving myself the challenge of an angsty, non-stop thriller. :)

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  6. I use a bunch of these! I adore Scrivener. It's so organized. Pinterest, Pixabay, and Keep-Calm-o-Matic are must too. I need to try the Hemingway Editor. I've heard a lot of good things about it. :)

    Stori Tori's Blog

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    1. We write a lot alike! BTW, are you on the Go Teen Writer's Facebook group? I think I've seen you on there! :)

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    2. I supposed you do. My cover is blown! lol XD Yes, I'm on there. :)

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