January 5, 2013

These Are My Writing Tools

I’m a writer. I write books, articles, columns, and blog posts. I also write quotes, reports, code, and a gazillion of emails, but that’s another form of writing so let’s forget about that for now.

I do not count tweets as writing. Sorry kids.

Churning out tens of thousands of words every day, I’ve taken the time to find tools that work for me. By “work for me”, I actually mean “are not in the way of my creative output”, which is not exactly the same thing, but close enough.

These are my writing tools.

On Mac OS X

  • iA Writer is my go to text editor for anything longer than two paragraphs. It is great, and syncs with iCloud, as well as has a companion iOS app.
  • Pages is a nice word processor. I tend to wrap up things like quotes and reports here, but most of the time I’m editing evil Word documents sent to me by my publisher in Pages. Yes, I own Office for Mac, but Pages is way better. Syncs with iCloud obviously, and also has a companion app.
  • Imagine isn’t exactly a contender to anything but the built in TextEdit app. I use it from time to time, but honestly it needs work to truly replace anything at all. I only bring it up because it is free and you should give it a go to encourage the developer.
  • Sublime Text 2 is a nice text editor that I sometimes use for taking notes, writing articles and whatnot. I also code in this, which is why I feel so at home in Sublime Text 2. When I do use Sublime Text 2 for anything other than code, it is usually out of laziness. Still, it is a great choice.
  • Scrivener is where I write my books when on a Mac. Alas, that’s not entirely true, the books are usually written all over the place and then I organize everything in Scrivener. It is a truly powerful piece of software, but I find I’m more productive when I’m text only, although the fullscreen distraction free mode in Scrivener helps somewhat.
  • Notes.app (built-in with OS X Mountain Lion), to share quick notes with iOS devices. I rarely use this on OS X other than to pick up notes I’ve written on an iOS device.

On iOS (iPhone and iPad)

  • iA Writer, here too. It syncs with iCloud (and Dropbox), and is my go to tool when it comes to writing blog posts and short stories. I use it for articles, novels, and lyrics too, but those generally end up someplace else in the end. Probably Scrivener on OS X.
  • Pages is great on iOS, and I actually prefer this version to the OS X one. Same scenario as with its sibling on OS X, and it syncs too.
  • Notes.app (built-in with iOS) is great for quick notes, and syncs with iCloud. I use this for taking notes at meetings, as a scratchpad for research, and just about anything but actual writing. It is a companion tool for me, not an actual alternative to other writing apps.

I used to write a lot by hand, but stopped when time got scarce. To me, writing by hand was a way to produce more words, by switching toolset.

I prefer to write fiction in distraction free environments, preferably on iPad with a bluetooth keyboard. Technical books however are more suited to be written on a computer, so I tend to rely heavily on Scrivener there.

These are my tools of the (writing) trade. You need to find your own, the ones that truly fit perfectly well with your preferences. It might take some time, but it is worth it. After all, there’s a reason why some authors stick to their favorite pen, typewriter, keyboard, or whatever. And it is not just because they’re a superstitious lot, you know.

Thoughts? Let @tdh know on Twitter, or find me elsewhere.