What Do You Use to Write?
Updated: Nov 23, 2020
Writing is no easy task. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and patience to write something great. On top of all of that, writing can also require a few different tools. Some of these tools are pretty necessary, such as a word processor or notebook and pen. Meanwhile, others aren’t really necessary but can make the task of writing easier.
Ultimately, it all boils down to personal preferences, but seeing what other writers use can help you too. Maybe they are using something you never thought of.
My Writing Tools
Here are some of my favorite tools, listed in order of how often I use them, and why.
Scrivener. This is my main writing software these days. The best I can describe it is like Photoshop for writers. It does have a bit of a steep learning curve to use, and I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface of how to use all of its tools, but it is very helpful. I use it for my main projects and thanks to its file system, to build a reference guide for myself to lookup all of the information I need on different characters, worlds, spells, and whatever else I may need to keep track of.
Name Generator. One of Scrivener’s many nice features is its name generator. It allows you to randomly generate names based on origin and first letter. It also allows you to lookup the meanings of most first names. This makes naming characters so much easier.
Windows Media Player & Headphones. As I’ve explained in another post, I love music and have to have it with me when I write. It keeps me inspired and helps drown out the world around me.
Weekly Planner. When I’m really on top of things, I use my planner to list out all of the different projects I need to get done that week. It’s great for helping me prioritize task, see what I need to be working on, and feel accomplished when I can check things off.
Kindle. Kindle works great for collecting a mass of writing books that you want to keep with you but can’t carry everywhere. I have a few books here that I reference from time to time that include:
The Emotion Thesaurus. Written by Angela Ackerman, this book has been very helpful in providing me with ideas on what expressions characters should be making for different emotions. She also has a couple of other books that follow similar concepts, such as Emotion Amplifiers and The Emotional Wound Thesaurus.
Fight Write. Written by Carla Hoch, this book tells you pretty much everything you could want to know about fighting. Not just different moves and injuries, but the thought process behind why people might fight.
Excel. This is what I used to make my first guide, and while I don’t reference it as much as I used to, it still serves as my timeline. My entire series is plotted out, loosely in many cases, in an excel spreadsheet. I’ve also used it to create family trees, Tehrahey’s calendar calculator, and as a way to track my progress within the story by giving me a nifty little percentage.
Save the Cat! Writes a Novel. Written by Jessica Brody, this book has been invaluable in helping improve my writing. I’ve written a whole other blog post about the beats that you should check out if you haven’t already. I can’t recommend this book enough.
Word. Used to be my main writing program, but has since been replaced by Scrivener. However, I do still use it for smaller projects, like my blog posts. Also, I do use its grammar checker before uploading things because while not great, at least it has one, unlike Scrivener.
Grammarly. While I don’t rely wholeheartedly on this, it is an extra set of eyes to look over my work. It will often catch stuff that Word missed. However, it will also miss stuff that Word missed as well. Don’t rely solely on it, and as of yet, I’ve seen no reason to pay for it.
Phone Apps. I have a couple of different apps on my phone to help me out while not at a desk.
Merriam Webster Dictionary/Thesaurus. Used for looking up synonyms and making sure I’m using words correctly.
Google Translate. I like to use words from other languages because I believe simple names sound better in another language.
OneNote. To make quick notes of things I want to remember, such as dialogue. This usually happens when I wake up with an idea in the middle of the night because I’ve learned that I probably won’t remember the idea come morning. Even if I do, fully awake Tyler will look at the idea and wonder what half-asleep Tyler was thinking.
The Illustrated Signs and Symbols Sourcebook. Written by Adele Nozedar, this has been a fun and helpful book for adding bits of symbolism to my writing. While the entries on different symbols are rather small, the book offers a large variety of entries which can be used as starting points for deeper research online.
Pinterest. Admittedly, this one is risky. I have a board for writing tips, prompts, and inspiration on Pinterest with things like “words to use instead of said,” or color charts with synonyms. However, I have to be very careful about not getting sucked down a rabbit hole of non-writing related stuff. To avoid this, I have a link straight to my writing board saved on my Start menu.
A Notebook. I don’t mean a tablet, but an honest composition notebook. Preferably blue because that’s the best color there is. I don’t use it often, I just got halfway through it and I bought it 7 years ago, but it’s nice to have when a computer is out of the question. I’ve actually been using it more these last few months for writing on the go so I can get out of the house from time to time.
Graph-Paper Notebook. This gets used once every few months whenever I need to design a room or building in order to describe it better. It doesn’t happen very often, but I do enjoy it as it lets me do something different for a little while. It plays into the aspects of building and creating that I love so much.
Find What Works for You
Honestly, this list ended up being longer than I expected it to be, but there are a lot of different things that I use while writing. Some see more action than others, but each item on this list has been helpful in the past.
As I mentioned earlier, not every writer works the same way. Some of the tools that I use might work wonders for me, but be completely unnecessary for others. There are also tools that some people use that I don’t, such as a corkboard, flashcards, and string for plotting out the story. It is up to the writer to figure out what methods work best for them. Hopefully, this list can help you figure out some useful tools to look at that can assist you with your writing projects.