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10 Author Tools I Can’t Do Without

This week I plotted my seventh book. I mean, seventh! My first fiction book published in April 2015, so as you can see, I’ve been pretty busy since then. Quitting my job in the police to write full time has had a hugely positive impact on my writing. But so have the following writer’s tools that I’m sharing with you today. Some may surprise you. 

1. Stationery

I cannot get enough stationery. Seriously. I’m unable to pass a Paperchase shop without popping in and drooling all over their display. Each new plot starts its life in a shiny new notebook as random scribbles and drawings. When they start to make some kind of sense and the coffee has kicked in, I transfer my ideas to computer.

2. My Macbook

My Macbook Air is the Rolls Royce of computers. I went through five laptops before I got it because I’m such a clod hopper, but I’ve had my Macbook for a few years now, and it’s as good as the day I bought it. I love all things Apple, but as a writer, this makes my life so much easier. 

3. Writing Software

Scrivener is my number one writing tool. I love the cork board, and the way it allows me to swop chapters around with ease. It’s a playground for authors and I highly recommend it for nailing that first draft. At around £30 ($45) It’s great value too. 

4. Dictation Software

When I first began writing, my wrists were like two limp lettuce leaves after I had typed out a 90K word first draft. Now I’ve found a much quicker method, and it’s easier on my wrists too. On a good run, I can dictate around 25K words in three days using Dragon dictation software. Of course, it needs a hefty edit afterwards, and dictating is a skill. It takes time to train your brain to speak the words instead of typing them, as well as getting the software to recognise your voice. But it’s so worth it when you do. The above link gives 20% off if you fancy giving it a go.

5. Freedom From Distractions

Procrastination is something that writers are well aware of, and when I gave up my job to write full time, I really struggled to keep myself focused and hit my daily word count (and if you’re not keeping targets, you should be). More often than not, I found myself on Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere except where I should be – writing my book. The Freedom app came highly recommended and it definitely does the trick. I work in 45 minutes bursts without any distractions, while still being able to go online and research (and believe me, my research history is both a thing of beauty and horror).

6. The Dreaded RSI

As I’ve already mentioned, my wrists and hands ache if I spend too long typing. Writing for digital publishers is a challenge, and although producing a book every six months is exciting, you must be committed to getting your head down and writing every day. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a deadline and not being able to type. AntiRSI is a great app as it monitors your use and insists you take regular breaks. Since using it, I’ve not had to wear my wrist strap once. 

7. Kindle Paperwhite

There is no better equipment to read your manuscripts back on than the Kindle Paperwhite. I used to own a Kindle Fire, but the battery was forever running flat due to the kids using the countless apps they had downloaded. Kindle Paperwhite is smooth, clean, easy to use and has a fantastic battery life. It fits nicely in my handbag for when I’m on the go. 

8. Netflix

Seriously, Netflix! As an author, you should be reading a lot, but you can pick up some great ideas by analysing movies and series in the genre you write. I’m not saying that you should spend all day watching TV, but in my opinion, it is well worth the subscription fee to be able to pick your genre and watch in your spare time. Amazon Prime is also a worthy investment, and the fire stick provides both Netflix, Prime and many other options. If you don’t fancy TV then Audio books are another option, which I listen to while doing the housework or walking the dog. 

9. Spotify

I used to spend ten or twenty pounds a month downloading music to listen to while I write. Normally I listen to Hans Zimmer and similar movie theme playlists. With Spotify, I pay a small monthly fee and listen to whatever I want. If you’re looking for a decent set of headphones to block out outside noise while you write, I recommend these ones by Sony

10. Quickbooks

On a positive note, you should be able to claim back many of the above purchases on your expenses, or a good portion of it. So if you fancy giving it a go, this link gives you 50% off. If you’re earning money from your writing, you should be registered, and keeping a record of your income and expenses. Click here to take a look.

 

Do you have any writing tools to add to this list? I’d love to hear them. I should also mention that a couple of these links are affiliate, which means I earn a few pennies if you decide to buy. However, I only recommend ones I use and feel passionate about. We all work differently, use what works for you. Image courtesy of Ryan Blanding, Flickr creative commons. 

This Post Has 8 Comments
  1. Hi, Caroline! Great post. I am a complete Scrivener addict—and a notebook addict, as well. A leather cover and textured pages, and I’m in love! The bit about Netflix is completely true. I get so inspired by high-quality shows and movies. Good storytelling is good storytelling, no matter the medium.

  2. Excellent post. I’m struggling a bit with Scrivener. Do you have a new folder for each chapter within the project or do you write it in one continuous piece? I love the word count target for each session.
    I’m going to have a look at Dragon software.

    1. Thanks Sue, it does take a while to get the hang of Scrivener, but it’s so worth it. I click on the folder button marked chapter at the top and press the little green + to keep adding new chapters, so they are all in that folder. Dragon does take time to master, but it saves so much time when getting out the first draft.

  3. Hi Caroline,

    Dragon is great isn’t it? I record into Audacity and use Dragon’s transcribe option. I find that easier to use than dictating directly into Dragon.

    What I can’t help doing is acting out the dialogue. I do the characters voices when recording. It helps me get a feel for them. Then, like you, I have to edit quite a bit but I use the recordings to help me do this by listening back to it.

    All this might sound like it takes a while but it doesn’t. First of all, I leave the editing till I’ve finished the first draft. That’s why the recordings come in handy.

    Years ago, before useful things like Audacity and Dragon, I used my cassette recorder and typed using the play/pause buttons. That did take ages. But works if you can’t afford Dragon yet.

    1. Hi Tom,
      Yes, I totally agree. Leave the editing until it’s all over. You can’t dictate and edit at the same time, it’s right and left brain activity. Sounds like you’re an old pro at it (if you forgive the ‘old’) 😉

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