While writing is fulfilling and fun, it can also be extremely frustrating and draining! Here are some tools you can utilize, for free or cheap, that will make writing a little easier.
We have three lists of tools:
one for the actual process of writing, one for your author platform, and one for you, the writer.
Here’s your list of fifteen useful writing tools:
- Microsoft Word
- Google Docs
- Google Keep
- A critique group
- Apps for focusing
- Backup files
- Skillshare classes
- Social media
- Press kit
- Your workspace
- Blue filter glasses
- Wrist and hand car
Here are six tools to improve your writing process:
For drafting, editing, revising, and sharing your work, here are some things you can use!
1 – Microsoft Word
You obviously have some kind of word processor if you’re writing. I’ve used several different ones, and the Microsoft Suite has had the most reliability for me. Some others have had really nice features I’d love to have, but files kept corrupting or getting lost, and it ultimately wasn’t worth it. Microsoft Word is what I use consistently, because of the reliability and backup features.
2 – Google Docs
I use Google Docs for sharing my writing. If I’m collaborating with another writer, we’ll draft in Google Docs so we can see each other’s changes in real-time. It keeps everything together and easily accessible to different people across different devices. The commenting feature is really easy to use, and you can track edits as suggestions instead of changes, so it makes editing and critiquing really easy.
After I’ve finished a draft of a chapter on Word, I just upload it to a Google Doc, but my critique group’s email addresses, and send it off. It’s easy, all their feedback is in the same place, they can respond to each other, I can respond to them, and I have access to those notes whenever and wherever I need them.
3 – Google Keep
Google Keep is a notepad app. I use it for keeping track of ideas. I have a doc for lines, images, story ideas, character ideas. Since it’s Google, it’s accessible across all of my devices, and really convenient for jotting down thoughts. Write down your ideas as soon as you get them! They’re not gonna hang around. They’re gonna run away. You gotta grab ‘em!!
4 – A Critique Group
I have two critique partners and we exchange chapters on a set schedule to give each other feedback. Having other people expecting you to finish something by a certain date really helps to keep you accountable, with the added bonus of constructive feedback! It’s a win-win. Get yourself a critique partner or group.
5 – Apps for Focusing
Apps like StayFocusd and Pause For can keep you on track and writing! StayFocusd is a chrome extension that allows you a certain amount of time on designated websites before blocking you out of them. Pause For is for iPhones, and you can use it to set amounts of time not to use your phone. If you succeed, it donates money to the charity of your choice! How motivating!
6 – Back up Everything
On another hard drive, on the internet—multiple backups! Trust me! Do it!
Here are some things you can use to grow your readership, promote your book, and market yourself!
Check out Jenna Moreci‘s classes on author platforms and releasing a book—there is so much good content in these classes. Literally anything you could possibly want to know. If you’re just starting out as a writer, or maybe you just haven’t hit your stride yet, check out Jenna’s course for building your author platform–you’ll learn about target demographics, social media, personal branding, and a ton more.
Her course on planning a book release outlines everything from setting goals and doing the prep work, to hosting giveaways and managing a street team. I could not recommend Jenna’s classes enough. Check them out to strengthen your writing platform and work smarter. If you don’t have a Skillshare account, here’s a two-month free trial!
2 – Social Media
Even if you don’t have a book ready, even if you haven’t set up a website yet, you can start building your author platform on social media. It’s free, and it’s pretty easy once you know what you’re doing. The three main social media authors use are Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but which you should use depends on your target demographic. For example, if you’re writing books for people in their 40s and up, you need a Facebook page. If you’re writing young adult, Twitter and Instagram are where your audience will be. If your audience is even younger, you might use Snapchat or TikTok!
3 – A Press Kit
Even if you don’t have a completed book yet, you can start making a press kit with your author information. It’s really good for sending to ARC reviewers, for interviews, etc. Once you have a book to promote, you’ll have a head start on your marketing materials since if you’ve been building your press kit as you go!
4 – WordPress
I used WordPress to build my website. I’ve used Wix and Weebly in the past, but WordPress has been my favorite so far. There are several options, each with different strengths and weaknesses depending on your goals and experience, but whichever service you choose, set up a website. If you’re not ready to buy a domain, you can use the free URL for now and start putting your website material together. You can start a blog there to get some traffic. You can also set up a mailing list–I use MailChimp. It’s easy to embed sign up forms on your website and manage your list through them. And it’s free!
5 – Pexels
Pexels is a free way to get access to a wide variety of royalty-free stock photos to create your marketing materials. I’ve used a photo from Pexels for things like my Twitter banner as well! They have great content, and it’ll really make your stuff look nice.
6 – Canva
Canva is a super simple, free online alternative to something like Photoshop to make graphics and marketing images. They have great templates and tools, and they give you dimensions for everything—YouTube thumbnails, banners, Facebook posts, Instagram stories. Use Pexels and Canva, and your stuff is gonna look dope.
Here are three tools for you, the writer:
1 – An Adequate Workspace
Be it a desk, a corner, a coffee shop, or a porch–find somewhere you can dedicate to writing. It will help you get into your writing mode quicker and keep you on task, resulting in a much more productive writing session. Make sure you’ve got a supportive and comfortable chair, and don’t sit for too long! Every half or so, get up and wiggle. Wiggling is imperative.
2 – Blue Light Filter Glasses
Looking at a computer screen for a long time gives me headaches, so I wear these boys. They’re fly as heck. It filters the light that makes your eyes ache, so you can work comfortably for longer. There are also programs you can install like f.lux that can cater your screen settings to what is easiest on your eyes. I have my f.lux set to imitate the sun, so the day starts and ends with a softer, orange light, which wakes your brain gradually, then gets you ready to wind down for bed!
3 – Wrist and Hand Care
If you’re young and spry, you might not be worried about this yet, but working at a computer all day is a killer on your hands and wrists. Listen to your body and take breaks when you need to, do hand and wrist exercises (here’s a great yoga routine for it), and also look at things like stress balls, ergonomic computer accessories, and wrist rests for your keyboard. Your hands are very important and very breakable. Keep a lookout!
I hope some of these tools help you out. Happy writing!
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