Last week I shared how I knew I was a writer, so I thought I would continue the idea this week, and introduce how I write. This could be a very long blog, but for this entry I’ll focus on what tools I use. To be completely honest, I seem to try something new for every piece and every project, but I feel a pattern is cementing itself in place and this is what I use now. It’s by no means an exhaustive list but gives you an idea of my day to day process.
If there is one thing I, and presumably by extension, all writers do is try and catch the ideas that keep falling from their brains and mustering the energy to find a way to record thoughts that occur at midnight when we are nice and snug under the covers. For this purpose, I mainly use my smartphone.
I used to use Evernote, but I’ve recently begun to find that its system of notebooks is rigid and the endless edition of features just takes me longer and longer to get to the file I want to add a note too. Another recent change is how you can only use their app on two devices unless you pay for membership.
Enter Bear, it can do anything Evernote can do but in a much more fluid manner and allows your ideas to grow organically without breaking the flow. With Bear you simply write a note, and if you hashtag a word or bookend a phrase with hashtags it turns that into a browsable topic folder and link in the handy sidebar. All you have to do is click it to see all the notes with that hashtag in it. It works brilliantly for me and I highly recommend it. Most of the time my ideas come on the bus to school when I’m listening to music, so it’s very handy too.
When it comes to writing a full story, or the detailed planning and scene by scene construction of a novel, is there any better thing to rely on than Scrivener? It does everything. It does a lot more than I use it for anyway, but it does everything I need. It’s a word processor, but it also keeps all your files and research documents attached and viewable with one click. It allows you to separate your scenes into separate files and then automatically compiles them into one document when they are finished. Each file is also a synopsis card in a different view and you can mix scenes around easily while looking at a breakdown of your whole novel at once. You can set goals for writing and it will track your progress. It’s amazing and it recently came out on iOS.
So I’ve been using it on my iPad more than my MacBook lately. Chiefly because I’m doing more editing at the moment, but also because I don’t have a lot of time to sit down with my PC. Using my iPad means I can do a bit here and there.
I can’t tell you how much of a difference it makes in simply saving time finding where you left off with a novel and facing up to the daunting task of a novel by only considering a short scene at a time. That alone has freed up so much of my energy. You can learn more if you want to as there are plenty of online tutorials to help you explore its many features, but whatever way you can think of altering your workflow, I’m sure it can accommodate.
When the work is finished, and all that remains are the endless rereads and edits, I also use another writing app called iA Writer. This app isn’t by any means a replacement app for Scrivener, but it is my favorite word processor.
Using a minimalist display, it allows you to view your work clearly and focus on just the words. It even uses default fonts that are easy on the eyes and very friendly in appearance. It’s a joy to look at. Then it has plenty of quick buttons for common punctuation and quick navigation of the document. But my favourite feature is strictly about the editing. It allows you to highlight different parts of speech, so you can more easily see if you keep repeating the same adjectives or if your adverbs are taking over the story. It helps with those final stages of edits where you just want to polish the diamond you’ve created.
While I’m not really qualified to talk about this topic from experience, I have yet to publish anything, I can tell you my plans and why I’ve chosen them. See, my first novel is at that polishing stage now, and in a few weeks I think it will be as good as I can possibly make it. When that happens, I’m going to start serializing it on Wattpad.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, why should an author of my obvious talent use a system that has the same level of reputation as George Dubbuya did for US President? Well, I’m not looking at it as a final goal, but actually as a last beta reading experiment. I make my story available to the public in serial form and Wattpad’s comment and message features allow me to get instant, line by line feedback from readers. Of course, most of it will be useless, I’m under no illusion about that, but some will be good and just as a general gauge of reaction, I think it is worth it. It disallows traditional publishing but I knew long ago that wasn’t the road for me.
Plus, this will help build attention for the title and it’s final release which I will do through Amazon Createspace. It’s easy, it gives me instant worldwide access and it is cheap, but still I will need funding, so I’m also going to use Patreon to earn some support. Patreon allows creatives to find fans to donate to their projects, like a Kickstarter, but continual for a number of projects. If Wattpad and my own efforts generate interest, then hopefully some of them will follow to Patreon, earn rewards and communicate.
Writing isn’t just about making a book anymore. You have to communicate with fans and offer much more than just the story. I have plenty of ideas and I hope you’ll follow me to Patreon, when my page is ready, to see what you could win in return for your support.
So there’s my writing process, broken down by application. Have you tried any of these? Let me know your process in the comments or hit me up on Twitter.
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