My Digital Writer’s Toolbox — 2023 edition
For some reason Medium h My Digital Toolboxas decided that I’m interested in apps and other productivity tools. Okay, they’re not wrong, but sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. My inbox is filled with Five Essential Writing Tools, 10 Useful Mac Apps (especially useful for me who only works on a PC), Three Tools Every Writer Needs, etc., etc. So, naturally, I’ve decided to write my own blog post on the same topic! 😊
Ten years ago I wrote a pair of articles on my “writer’s toolbox”. The first post was the digital tools I used, the second were the analog tools. Today, I’m going to update both of those articles because I think analog tools are just as important as digital and goodness knows there are so many advancements in both! Today I’ll get started with the apps since that’s what’s been in my face for the past few weeks thanks to Medium.
Too obvious? Maybe, but you really can’t go wrong with it. Microsoft Word is still the most used writing program in the world. It’s simple to use and the editing (track changes, find and replace, comments) features just can’t be beat. This is still the program that I use write all of my books despite the fact that there are many other options.
One thing that absolutely has not changed in the past ten years is the usefulness of Scrivener. It’s the writing app used by the most authors not only because it’s good, but because it’s huge and malleable.
Probably, most authors don’t even use a tenth of what’s available in that program—I know I do not. You can use it to organize your writing with it’s virtual bulletin board, keep track of your characters with their Character Worksheets. And, of course, write your book and track how many words you’ve written, setting a daily goal if you want to. Many authors even use it to produce an ePub of their finished novel, although I would recommend against that because it only produces the most basic ebook and you can’t really make it nicer. There are too many other much better options for producing an ebook to put up with the substandard ebook Scrivener produces.
This is the newest kid on the block of writing apps. It was created by Kindlepreneur, a very well known and trusted player in the self-publishing world. (They also produce Publisher Rocket, a tool many use to find keywords with which to sell books.) Dave Chesson, is not only a disgustingly nice person, but he’s an author who knows what authors need.
Atticus is an online app where you can write your book and, even better, it’s got a great tool for producing both ePubs and print versions of your book (and you don’t have to write in the program to use the formatting tools). I wrote a complete review of it here.
For Organizing Your Writing
This is one of the best writing apps I’ve found. I just love how easy it is to lay out a plot with this program. And it’s not just for people who plot before they write, but it’s great for those who write by the seat of the pants too. You can easily create a timeline of the events in your story to easily see how it ebbs and flows and ensure that you follow a logical story structure.
This is an extremely simple program. It’s exactly what it sounds like—digital index cards. Really useful for listing scenes, characters, or any research you might want to keep track of. You can make stacks of different cards and search for cards as well. Much easier than actually physically having a stack of index cards.
This is a new one to me (one of those I read about in Medium). It looks really cool and useful. There are tiles where you can type in any sort of information you need. Create new pages—perhaps one for your plot, one for your research, and another for your characters. You can put in pictures and other information as well. And then it’s super easy to shift them around. Oh, and there are lots of templates for all sorts of things including writing a novel. 😊
OneNote, if you don’t know, is a virtual notebook. Extremely useful for keeping track of any and all information you might need for your book. And because it’s a Microsoft product, it’s plays nicely with Word.
These are two different aps but which do basically the same thing. They’re a great way of creating a kanban board or any sort of list. Similar to xTiles, you basically create tiles or cards with the information you need and then can keep them in neat columns. It’s terrific for organizing large projects—hmmm… like writing a book!
This is a timeline program which is fantastic for keeping track of a large series where many things happen and events from different books overlap. It’s extremely powerful, even giving you the option to add your characters and settings and then associate them with particular events on your timeline.
For Analyzing Your Writing
This is still, hands down, the best way to analyze your book. I wrote a whole blog post about which you can find here.
And that’s it for this quick run-down of the writing software I use either on a regular basis or have tried and loved. Next week, I’ll talk about my analog toolbox. It’s varied and wonderful! See you then!