I’ve been writing for something like twenty-five years and the tech tools for bloggers, novelists, poets, screenwriters, people dabbling in self-expression, and any other way one identifies as a word-centered creative type change faster than any of us can keep up.
I can’t stand wasting time fiddling and trying to figure out how to use the alleged latest and greatest tool. Procrastination is the devil of creativity, and nothing gives more permission to a writer to waste valuable creative juice than a tool that is hard to figure out.
In the end, I have a strong attachment to tools that meet my wide-ranging needs in ways that keep the technology portion of the writing and staying connected to the global community as straightforward as possible.
I have a few favorite tech-focused writing resources that I rely on to keep me in the loop with all of the newness and shifts (I’ll add them at the end of this post). However, my loves are my loves. Here are the tech tools I use. All of them are easy, awesome, and effective for me. Also, let’s just put it out there that I am not being paid to endorse anything. These are entirely my own opinion.
- Scrivener: This is my writing software go-to. I’ve been using Scrivener for almost a decade and I have a true personal relationship with it. I love the corkboard and organizational tools. It helps me set goals and revise with ease. It has an auto back-up tool so that I don’t have a complete novel fail and lose everything because I was too lazy or wrapped up to back it up myself. It is the best investment a writer can make, in my opinion.
- Miro: This is an online whiteboard and storyboarding tool that I legit could not live without. While other tools are great for storing photos, I’m big on world development and need a place to lay it all out. Miro lets you flowchart, character chart, slap photos, links, documents, and other goodness up and then arrange them with notes. You can share boards to collaborate (my husband and I do this all the time). It’s not specifically for writers, but it is gold. You can set up a free account and maintain three boards at that level.
- Pinterest: If I didn’t have Pinterest, I would never be able to keep track of any of my research. This tool has a reputation for being more of a place for recipes and fashion ideas (I have those too. My family would eat pizza every night without it), but using it as a collection point for articles, photos, etc., is incredible. Take a peek at my boards and you’ll see how I use it. This is, despite the fact that it is the most passive of all of my social media channels in a sense that I don’t really engage with other pinners directly, my most robust channel with thousands of followers and more than 12,000 views a month. Hmmm, did I just tell myself to go leverage Pinterest a bit more?
- Instagram: This is my indulgence and my main social media platform. I love Insta so much for a couple of reasons: A. visual loveliness; B. low drama and troll issues; C. I have made and developed amazing connections as a result. Insta has its downside. While my teenager can get 1,000 fans in about 10 minutes, it has taken me years to get close to 600 and I still find it a daily challenge to build the platform and keep away from those people who will follow-unfollow. I want engagement, so I work hard on this channel to develop relationships with people I want to have around.
- WordPress: In another iteration of myself, I ran an online family magazine for many years with a WordPress backend and have never stopped loving this amazing platform. The free version is limited and the templates aren’t the best, but writers who have serious career goals need a modern, usable, mobile-friendly platform and this is my go-to.
- Creative Commons Search: First rule of writing —don’t steal other people’s art whether it is words, images, music, etc. Creative Commons makes it straightforward to find public domain material. The new search is easy to use.
- Canva: Let’s face it, my forte is not in the visual representation of anything. I write, make pretty words. Sometimes I want to share those pretty words or someone else’s. Canva and its free design tools are the only way my graphics don’t look like the 1990s.
- Unsplash: Sometimes, Creative Commons is not so quality. I need something a bit more slick and interesting. I’m also not down for paying a premium for stock photography because, well, writing is not a goldmine (yet 🙂 ). Unsplash has gorgeous stock that you can share with attribution. I love it and the photographers are amazing. Thank you for letting those of us who dig beautiful images, but cannot pay for them yet, a chance to show your work to the world.
- Twitter: Want to develop a writer’s network full of agents, book publishers, other writers? Twitter is the go-to. I admit I don’t use it as much as I should. It’s a rabbit hole that, once down it, I can’t get out and I lose entire days in the Twitter-verse. However, it cannot be overlooked as the key connection point for writers and their full tribe. Twitter is also a terribly challenging place to get people to interact with you at times. However, get in there and interact with the people who already have a tribe and things will shift.
- Grammarly Pro: This wee app (the basic is free) will check your writing for you as you go. With the basic, it is a live spell checker, which is awesome. When you have it activated on your phone or computer, it will check everything other than Google Docs. The pro version, however, checks for sentence structure, grammar, word usage, the whole whackadoodle. I love my real, human editors. However, this is a really solid way to keep yourself on track, see where your common writing mistakes are, and have a second set of AI eyeballs making sure your foundations are in order.
- Clips: This video maker is about as simple as it gets. There is NOTHING fancy about this app. However, I don’t want fancy. I just want easy. I’ve tried lots of others that have many features and keep coming back to this one because I can’t figure the other ones out.
- Camera+2: I love this photo app ($3.99).
So, who do I rely on for keeping up on writer tech tools? My fave is Jane Friedman. Her regular e-mail newsletter always has at least one gem and, while I may not be interested in everything she shares, she’s really well-versed in the author universe.
I’m also a big fan of Jenn Hanson-dePaula at Mixtus Media. She’s busy on Instagram and I read her blogs as a part of my regular routine.
What tools do you love? How do you keep up with tech tools? Share your gems so we can all try out your tools or subscribe to newsletters too!