5 free tools & resources to help you write, organise projects, and manage social media.

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.Β 

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!

Free tools for writers sticky notes
I spent a good ten minutes organising my sticky notes whilst writing this post!

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!)

2. Pacemaker:

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 canΒ 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.

Pacemaker
Planning the ‘Pizza Assassin,’ one of my NaNoWriMo candidates!

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.Β 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!Β 

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!

Tweetdeck
My TweetDeck sidebar!

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 πŸ™‚Β 

See who followed you and follow back:Β Tweet Deck has a column for followers which updates every time a new person follows you. You can even follow people back!Β 

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:Β 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.Β Things like the below:Β 

figmentthemes
‘Why is there a dragon in my fridge?’ ‘It was hot.’ If only I weren’t writing about medieval fantasy kingdoms, I’d add this to my #WIP. I’d love to find a dragon in my fridge!

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:Β Daily writing events

Bonus:

If anyone wants some free writing courses from Penguin writers academy, here’sΒ Plotting,Β Dialogue, andΒ Writers block!Β 

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!

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40 comments

  1. Wow Louise! I don’t know where to begin with my thank you for this post! I hadn’t heard of most of these tips. Amazing resources! I definitely plan to sign up for the twitter tool for sure! I used to be pretty involved with Figment too but it’s been a few years. Thank you thank you thank you πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great share! Does Pacemaker come with an alarm because I really need something like that to tell me to stop being lazy and start being productive on a daily basis, lol.
    And the nerd in me loves attending courses so thank you for the Penguin MOOC list. Hah! Looks like you had something to share from Penguin after all πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved this! I use scrivener for most of this and hootsuite for scheduling. It’s nice to see alternatives. I’m curious to see how your experiment will go for NaNoWriMo and will add you today! I’m still unsure how much I should plan as I barely outline the first and had to rewrite most of it after I realize how bad the structure was.
    I love the windows sticky notes. I use a mac now and never tried to find an equivalent, but used it at work all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks πŸ™‚ I never bought scrivener because I wasn’t sure I’d use it. I may try out the free Ywriter alternative this NaNo to see how it is.
      I barely outlined my last project, and am also having to rewrite most of it: I hope planning helps with my structure!
      So far I’ve planned up to chapter 3 but now I’m stuck! I think I’ll plan characters, locations, and a rough outline for each chapter and see how I go πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. One thing I do use is ProWriting before I send my work off to critters. It’s free on their website if anyone would like to try it.

    Only thing I can suggest for NaNo is have a writing prompt for each day and a word count minimum. Be organized. It’s like a marathon and we all get very tired at the end. Make it as easy on yourself as possible.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent post! I love using the digital post it notes. I haven’t used them much for writing, but I love your visual!

    I’ve heard of Pacemaker, but I haven’t used it, either. I’m interested in the ability to track revisions!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. With so many ideas flying around in our heads, it’s certainly easy to lose track of things. I am so grateful for computers, and all the little automatic reminders and notifications. One of my favorite features hands down is the “Find” feature. Just type in a word or phrase and jump to every instance.
    I often use keywords/tags in text documents to help me find things, particularly in my Idea lists. Sometimes I don’t know where an idea will belong, but I still jot it down, and sometimes the lists can grow quite long.

    Scheduling ahead is another nice one. I haven’t gotten into Twitter yet, but when I do I imagine I’ll use that feature to coordinate blog and Twitter postings.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So much good stuff in here. I really wish I could put e-sticky notes on my desktop. That would be a lifesaver. Wait! I do have Windows 10 on my laptop, so maybe I can. Let me check the store. I have the default version installed, but I’m going to try the one called, “Sticky Notes” instead, because it looks like I can pin it to my start screen. We’ll see how it goes! Thanks for this!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Free resources are awesome. I had never heard of Pacemaker and even though I remembering hearing about Tweetdeck when I first started looking into social media a year ago I don’t think I ever checked it out. I love that you can follow #’s. Thanks so much for another great post.
    Good luck with your plotting for NaNo. If you need encouragement, I am more than happy to send some along. I will be MLing for my region this year for NaNoWriMo. Are we buddies yet? If not my NaNo handle is Scarlet-Dahlia.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome πŸ™‚
      I love following #’s on Tweetdeck, makes it so easy to keep up!
      Thanks: This will be my second NaNo, but my first time planning for it, so any encouragement is good! I’ve added you πŸ™‚ (I’m Louise-DragonspireUK)

      Like

  9. Don’t forget to tell your friends that I have a list of daily hashtag games they can use πŸ™‚ you can find it at bit.ly/dailyevents πŸ™‚

    I need to check out Pacemaker, although I used to use something similar, Trello, but that wasn’t for writers. The thing about browser-based is that it’s easy to get bored. My bullet journal is keeping me in line. Honestly, the thing that works best for my productivity is a real-world stopwatch.

    I’m also coming to the point where I might try Freedom to keep me off the web before writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m going to edit this post now to add in a line about your daily events: I swear I’d already put it in here πŸ™‚

      I’ve tried a bullet journal before but it didn’t stick, which was a surprise considering I love my notebooks. I think I could do with a stopwatch and Freedom: at the moment I use the NaNoWriMo word sprint timer, but it’s very easy to get distracted!

      Like

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