I’m out of things to say about editorial work experience (Working in Editorial at Penguin books) for now, so I thought this month I’d share my top (free) tools for writers.
1. Windows Sticky Notes: (Windows 8 or above.)
Windows sticky notes are amazing. I use them to keep track of everything my scatterbrained mind would forget if it weren’t written down somewhere.
I often note down things to do in my work in progress and where I’m up to in case I take a break from it. I also list key editing points: I still sometimes misuse your/you’re and its/it’s!
I list #games I follow, make task lists, and note down any films/books I’ve been recommended. If you want something fun and well written, try The Book, The Dancer, and The Assassin by SloopJonB on Wattpad. I can’t wait to read the second part! (I’m saving it for when I’ve finished ‘The Girl on the Train’ to cheer me up, because that book is depressing!)
I haven’t used Pacemaker since last NaNoWriMo, and it’s only gotten better since then.
You can track goals easily, whether they be editing goals, writing goals, reading goals or even running goals (but I think I’ll skip that one!) Progress can be tracked in words, hours, minutes, or chapters, and you can see how well you’re doing in a table, a graph, a calendar, or a bar chart.
Don’t like Mondays? Me either. Schedule it in as a skip day in your plan.
You can have two plans on a free account. I find it similar to the little bar chart you get with NaNoWriMo, except with more advanced features. If I have a particular goal in mind, tracking and logging my progress makes it easier to complete.
Best of all, there are no downloads. Pacemaker is browser based, so you can flick onto it to update your progress in between tweeting (er, writing)
3. Open Office:
Don’t want to pay for, or can’t afford Microsoft Word? Try Open Office. It’s pretty much the same thing as Word, but free! I’ve used it since I left university.
Open Office has spreadsheets, documents, presentations and a database program. The only issue is, track changes doesn’t transfer between Word and Open Office. Documents are also longer when transferred into Word, but as I mainly use it to type that doesn’t matter!
You can save files in .doc format, and it even has an export to PDF button. I’m not sure if Word has this, but it’s especially useful! Sure we get in fights over words it says doesn’t exist sometimes, but a word processor is a word processor!
There’s also yWriter, a free alternative to Scrivener for those who like to organise their writing in one place. I haven’t used it yet: I plan to once my 2nd draft is done, but until then my work is too much of a mess and I prefer to word process. Once I get round to using it I’ll review it for sure!
4. Tweet Deck:
When I first started with Twitter, dealing with a few notifications was easy. Then I gained more and more followers. My notifications sometimes reach 99+ a day, which is tricky to manage.
Then I discovered Tweet Deck. Tweet Deck is browser based, and it’s run by Twitter so it’s legit!
Schedule Tweets: This is an awesome feature. I’m not normally on Twitter on Fridays, Saturdays or Mondays, but I run a #game each Sunday. I use Tweet Deck to schedule a tweet with Sundays writing prompt on Saturdays. You can schedule other tweets too, but I tend not to do that often. I like to be around to respond to any comments most the time 🙂
See who followed you and follow back: Tweet Deck has a column for followers which updates every time a new person follows you. You can even follow people back!
Filter notifications by replies only: In a world of likes, sometimes replies can get lost. I have a tab on Tweet Deck that shows replies and re-tweets. I can also reply from Tweet Deck!
Delete all those pesky auto-DM’s: I get at least three a day, all encouraging me to buy things. Not cool. (Sometimes I have trouble distinguishing between auto DM’s and real DM’s. If I ever don’t reply you know why!)
Follow #’s: I love this feature. I follow #Turtlewriters, #AuthorToolboxBlogHop, and my own #sunscribbles. I can like, re-tweet, and reply to posts without ever setting foot on Twitter. You can add a column to follow Twitter lists too! (You can make private and public lists on Twitter to keep track of followers.)
5. Writing prompts:
I love writing prompts, if that weren’t already obvious. I’m signed up to Figment Daily themes, which delivers free writing prompts to your inbox. Some of them are amazing, some are funny. Things like the below:
I also love #games with prompts on Twitter, and even made my own, #sunscribbles, partly for fun, and partly to motivate myself as part of the 52 week writing challenge. I write short stories once a week based on my prompts, and welcome anyone else who wants to try!
My favourite #games are #SaidSun and #TuesTell, because they ask for lines of dialogue and I love dialogue. I also frequent #TalesNoir and #TuesTropes. With three very different #WIP, I usually have something for each prompt! I also love the #Turtlewriters weekly image prompts, which inspired this little tale from my Arthurian legend based work.
Longer writing prompt #games are fun too. #FlashFicHive is a month long event dedicated to flash fiction, (stories of about 200-1000 words) and involves games, gifs and puzzles. Anyone can join in, new to flash fiction or not. More than a few of my short stories have been inspired by the hive! @FlashFicHive is run by @AnjelaCurtis, and returns in October. For a comprehensive list of daily hashtag games, check out Mica’s list here: Daily writing events
Thanks for reading!
Do you know of any more cool tools for writers? Will you be joining in with NaNoWriMo? What are your top tips for planning a story?
Next month, ‘The Pantser Plots’ begins! I’m usually a pantser, but lately it hasn’t been successful. In October, I’ll cover what I’ve learned from trying to plot for NaNoWriMo. I’ll also cover why pantsing hasn’t worked out. In November I’ll post the results of my experiment!