19 Tech-tools Invaluable To My Writing

I read articles about these great writers, and how they produce novel after novel using only a fountain pen and legal pads ... that's not me.

I do some of my planning with pen and paper, but the majority of my writing (including this blog entry, which may or may not qualify as writing) couldn't, wouldn't, get done without a ton of technological support and gear and infrastructure.

I'm certainly not saying that everyone has to write the way that I do, but it works for me, and that's what I can speak to ... below you will find a list of the tech I use, and a description of how I make it work for me.

Chromebook - The first and foremost piece of tech that is involved with nearly every day and every aspect of my writing is my laptop. The Chromebook is cheap ($184), light (2 pounds), small (about the same size as a copy of Wired magazine), and can run for six hours without a charge (meaning that I don't bother with the plug/cord for most remote writing sessions). It does a great job for document creation, email, web-surfing, basic image manipulation, and maintaining my website ... it's not designed for video editing or serious gaming (but neither am I).

When my current Chromebook dies, (I've written/published about a half-million words on this one), I'll buy another just like it for a sixteenth of what a macbook would cost.

Earbuds - I have a pair of iKross Earbuds that I got from Amazon, and they meet my needs perfectly. They're comfy and tiny and block out sound when I'm writing in noisy places and even have a microphone so I can use them for phonecalls.

iPhone - My iPhone serves primarily as DJ in my writing enterprise, but also as a research tool and yes, communications facilitator (Twitter, FB, Blogger, and even a phone).

iPad - I use my iPad as a backup writing device (more on that later/below), research device, and general writing support system. I have a bluetooth keyboard case, which I prefer to typing on the screen.

Amazon (and Creatspace, and KDP and ACX/Audible) - Amazon and an array of services that they make available to independent authors make what I do as a writer/publisher possible. They're the 800 pound gorilla in the publishing, and self-publishing, industry, and they make it easy to publish your work in a variety of formats and share it with the world. 

When I've written and rewritten and rewritten and edited my stories, I publish them in print using Createspace, then Kindle format using KDP, and I've worked with voice actors to produce two stories (and am currently working on the 3rd) in audiobook format using ACX. With these services, and Amazon's online storefront, I can sell me book in print and ebook and audiobook in my hometown as well as the most distant corner of the planet.

These services are designed to be affordable and easy to use for independent writers, and they really are ... it's possible to publish your books using all of these services without spending a penny. In addition to selling in these 3 formats through Amazon, CreateSpace lists my print books with the major distributors, and ACX lists them with Audible and iTunes.

Google docs - Google docs is the online (and offline, but don't worry about that) word processor that is supported by the Chromebook platform, and is the application I've used to write my last half-million published words. It's easy to use, and immensely portable/transmutable to other formats and platforms (my wife edits in .doc format, and I generally share files in PDF). It's great and free and gets better every day.

Pandora/Music - I listen to music in the background when I'm writing. Sometimes it's my own(ed) music, sometimes it's Pandora. Pandora lets me craft radio stations based on my mood and needs and wants. I pay for the upgraded version (about $36 per year) which gives me more control over the operation of my stations and music. 

I like music in the background when it's quiet at my house or in a library, and music to drown out the sounds of people in the cafe I frequent for writing, and when I write in the lodge of the ski-resort I take my son to in the wintertime. Pandora makes it work all day without being boring or repetitive.

Facebook/Blogger/Twitter - I use these three social media services as the primary interface with the world (by which I mean fans, potential readers, interested media outlets, and googlers, not the planet Earth). Facebook is an easy way to update people about what you're doing, writing, thinking, planning. I use Blogger to post longer thoughts, communiques, poems, pictures, and to host the website that represents me as an author. Twitter is a short-format communication device that reaches new audience members through the use of keywords using hashtags. All three of these work differently, for me and the audience they reach, and a nuanced approach to their use (which I sometimes manage) should allow for effective communication between between writer and the eyes and ears of the world.

Dropbox - Although Gdocs already saves my work remotely, Dropbox gives me another way to save and share my work (which is always a good thing). It also allows me to create folders with samples of my work that are easy to access and read and download for anyone who cares to do so.

Memo app - It doesn't matter which app you use, I've used a number of different ones, based on which features I want at the time. I have one installed on my iPhone because I often have an idea while driving or when remote from a pen and paper, and can just talk my thoughts into the thing for later transcription.

Date and Time Calculator app - I use an app that helps me figure out dates and the passage of time through the past and future ... it's cool and useful and way easier than doing it with pen and paper.

Google/Wikipedia - I have yet to get through a writing/work session without doing some online research, and Google and Wikipedia are the first places I generally go. Once I get a basic feel for the subject I'm exploring, I'll usually go further afield to get more detailed information, but often I can get what I need without having to drill down too far.

Google Maps and Other Navigation apps - I like to walk or paddle around the spaces that I write about, but I supplement this firsthand experience with lots of mapwork, to get a feel for the relative distances and directions between and among the things and people I'm writing about.

Sunrise/Sunset & Tide apps - There are lots of these apps out there, many of them good, many of them free to download. I like knowing what time the sun rises and set in the stories that I write, so I always have one of these apps on my iPad or iPhone.

Noisli/Coffitivity/sleepsounds apps - These two apps provide some background noise for those times when I don't feel like music or silence. I find that I most often use them when visiting NYC (or similar), and need to break up potential distractions.

OmmWriter/Hanx Writer apps - These two apps are what I use when for some reason I don't have my laptop, and need to get some writing done on my iPad (with the aforementioned keyboard case). They both provide a relatively distraction-free and simple interface for writing.

Writer Lists app - There are number of them available in the app store, but they all have lists of names and places and prompts and tips for writing ... I like to take a spin through mine when I'm bogged down, and need to disengage from the keyboard for a while.

Pomodoro app - I have tried a couple of pomodoro apps, and they are all pretty similar ... the basic theory is that you will be more productive at a given task if you do it in 25 minute chunks, with a short break between each chunk, and a longer break between every 4-6 chunks. I could probably manage to keep track of this on my own, and sometimes ignore the timer when I'm rolling, but it's a good basic rule.

Flipboard app - I love Flipboard. It's a news aggregator that allows me to find and read and share articles on an infinitely wide variety of my interests. I read dozens of articles every day, share some to FB or via email, and save other for later reference to my own magazine. I'm a big believer that writers must be readers, and this is a great way to find lots of great stuff to read.

There are lots of other devices and websites and apps that I use in the commission of writing, but these are among the most useful to me ... and 19 is a great number ... it's a centered triangular number after all!

Thanks for reading, and I hope something in here helps you in your writing!


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