Tools of the Trade

When you need to get the job done, when you can’t live without doing the work, then the tools don’t matter nearly as much. I’ve written several chapters of my first book on a notepad app on my mobile phone. Good tools put a spring to your step, but they won’t push you out of the door.

But some of you asked me what I use when I write, so here are the main things:

Scrivener ( OSX / iOS / Windows) – This is what I use to write my novels. It’s excellent software for writing books, so long as the books don’t depend on visual gimmicks like expertly formatted illustrations or text boxes. It’s infinitely customizable and has tools to facilitate any writing, from science textbooks to fantasy fiction, but at the press of a button, it can be just you, a word count, and a blank page. They have a generous free trial – I have written a full novel on trial alone.

Pages (OSX, iOS, Web) – I use this for longer essays or any book that necessitates the use of colourful and precise visual elements (think marketing e-books). It’s got two significant advantages over the competition (Google Docs and Microsoft Word). First, it’s much more responsive, especially when it comes to image manipulation and formatting.  Second, it uses tags to categorize documents. I won’t go into the benefits of tagging as it has nothing to do with writing, only organization. But when you want your writing to look beautiful AND not bust open your head against the keyboard in frustration? You want responsive software with intuitive styling menus. Pages delivers. The web version is much worse but passable.

Bear App (OSX, iOS) – For short-form writing. 99% of my blog essays are written in Bear. It has a beautiful, minimal interface; robust, hash-tag based organization and formatting, and painless export to a variety of formats. It’s Evernote without all the bloat, fine-tuned for writers. I use the pro version for sync, but if you don’t care about using it across multiple devices, free is great. They’ve promised that a web version is in the works, but are a small team and don’t want to commit to a release date.

Photo by Leah Kelley (Pexels)