Writer’s Journal: Tools

Welcome back to Austen Promises and the Writer’s Journal!

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I feel the need to post a warning here. You may have noticed a disclaimer along the side of the page (or at the bottom if you’re on a mobile device) that says something along the lines of “I use affiliate links and if you click some, I may get a small payment as a result.” Well, this is a post where I have used affiliate links to send you to Amazon. I thought it was better to warn you in advance. 🙂

As writers, we use a lot of tools. We have tools to write with, tools to edit and format with, and tools for professional development and other writing and business aspects.

I, personally, write using Microsoft Word. I used it as a teacher, and am the most familiar with it. It doesn’t hurt that I earned a copy of it when I was teaching in a brick and mortar building by participating in a series of workshops at the county’s educational service center. It’s the 2010 version and is good for three computers, which works in my favor: this is the second computer I have had to put it on! 🙂

Other people like to use other tools for writing. Some use a program called Scrivener. I’ve heard a lot about it, and my friend Rose uses it and loves it, but it has a steep learning curve, and I don’t like roller coasters. 😉 Seriously, though, I don’t feel like I have the time to learn to use it, despite all the lovely things it does.

I’ve heard of writers using Google Docs and Libre Office, as well. I’ve not tried those. It’s my understanding both are free, which neither Word nor Scrivener is. (As I was adding links, I discovered that LibreOffice is not free, but it’s only $10 or so.)

This makes me think of the hardware we use to write. I use my laptop. On occasion, I use my tablet, and on extremely rare occasions, I use my Blackberry Priv cell phone. I have seen in writer’s groups on Facebook where people have written entire long novels on their cell phone. Kind of boggles my mind, as well as my eyes. That’s some serious dedication there! Cell phones are too small for my eyes—I have always had thick glasses and now have bifocals to boot. Writing on my cell phone would be my last resort.

As I think I have mentioned before, I use Grammarly to do a basic grammar check. Grammarly has a free, web-based version and a paid version that includes a Word add-in. I use the paid version, only because I got tired of having to pause every few hundred words to click a button on a pop-up. It’s not the greatest tool in the world, but I have learned some things from it. Some folks use SmartEdit in place of Grammarly.

Other popular tools are Hemmingway and ProWritingAid. They help you find things like repeated words (using “that” too often, for example) and for reading ease and grade level equivalents. I find I can do all those things in Word. I tried Hemmingway, but found it more annoying than useful.

Natural Reader has long been my go-to for listening to my book for flow and misspelled words, though I have lately been using Word’s built-in reader feature. The drawback to that is that there’s only one voice and it’s American. I like to hear my Regency books in a British voice. Other “tools” are more like options, like reading aloud to yourself or having someone else read your manuscript to you.

For formatting, Mac users love Vellum. They rave about its ease of use and its abilities. I’m a Mac hater, so I use Jutoh on my PC, though I also have Calibre. I think I have used Calibre maybe once. It’s free, and Jutoh was $49 or something when I bought it a couple years ago. Jutoh is easy to learn, and as I go on, I am discovering new things I can do with it, like fixing issues within the program. I used to fix the Word document, then go through the whole loading process into Jutoh a second or third time.

Print books I format on my own as much as possible. Word has been giving me issues, but I have not run Windows Update in months, and I’m wondering if that’s not the root of my problem. I must remember to do this!

A lot of people hire out their print formatting. Others use a program called InDesign, which is part of the Adobe suite of products. It does produce some nice-looking books, and I may try it in the future. I’m rather attached to Word, though, and determined to master all aspects of formatting before I try to use something else.

Last on my list of tools are dictating and listening tools. Dragon software has become popular as a tool for dictating your first draft. I’d like to try it at some point, but cost is an issue. It’s rather expensive, and you need a good microphone with it, which can also get costly. I have downloaded a free app on my phone that will record stuff, but I cannot transcribe it automatically. I’ll have to type as I listen, which does not save me either time or effort. Plus, as much as I’d like to try to dictate, my brain is having difficulty wrapping itself around the logistics of it. Still, I’d like to give it a go one day.

My listening tool is the one that gave me the idea for this post. I just bought a Bluetooth shower speaker, so I can listen to podcasts in the shower. I won’t only use it in the shower, and I’ll also use it for sermons, which I listen to as I make breakfast and do stuff in the kitchen every morning, but I knew I wanted to increase my podcast listening time, and the shower is the best time to do that. So I went with waterproof. Smart, eh?

What are your favorite writing tools? Have I mentioned them here? I know there are more that I don’t know about. Feel free to share the ones you like.

Come back next Wednesday for another peek into my journal! <3

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