Here it is: A few of my favorite writing tools, along with a brief explanation as to how and why I use them.
Mid-Michigan Writers – I am proud to belong to one of the oldest writing groups in Michigan. If you are a writer without a writing group to help you polish your work, I am truly sorry. I’ve learned so much in the last few years I’ve been a member. One of the highlights for me is the annual Gateway to Writing Workshop held in my hometown every September. The friendships and critique process I’ve taken away from this group are invaluable. Once you become a member, dues are $15 annually.
Scrivener – Where do I even begin? This is the writing program I’ve been looking for from the very beginning. It is truly a digital studio for writers. There are so many features in this program, which is designed to be used by any and all writers, that the entire tutorial takes hours to go through. The nice part about the design is that the features you don’t use are not obtrusive, and yet, they are there when you need them. I heard the hype for years before I decided to see what all the fuss is about. I am sorry that I waited so long. It truly is designed by writers for writers. I will never be without it again. You can purchase Scrivener here. There is a one-time cost of $40.
750 Words – I just recently heard about this website and started using it. So far, I love it. The point is to empty your mind of nagging thoughts by just typing them out. It is all about reaching 750 words. There are no requirements, and it is private. The fun part of it all – and why I am considering joining after my free trial – is the analytics provided after you have written your entry for the day. Not only does it show you frequently used words, it tries to interpret your mood as you write and provide you a rating (similar to the movie rating system) for your writing. It is pretty fun, even if meaningless. Membership is $5 per month. Check out the website here to see what else is included for $5. There are many free online journals out there, but none are quite as fun and motivational as this site. You also get a true sense of community. Just getting it down works.
Evernote – I’ve known about Evernote for years, but it always seemed a little too fussy for me. Well, I’ve found it to be useful for jotting down writing ideas, keeping tracks of various lists, and more. There are many features at the basic (free) level of membership. It appears to sync well between PC and Android. I use it for personal notes as well, and I am considering using it to replace ColorNote completely. I tried to use Red Notebook for the same purpose, but Evernote is much better for making lists and taking notes. Red Notebook has better uses.
Red Notebook – If you are looking for a decent digital journal that isn’t online, this is it. You can download it for free (or a donation) here. I’ve used both Digital Expressions and Live Journal in the past. As much as I liked them both, Red Notebook offers a basic digital journal offline. There is no privacy setting to set. The possibility of accidentally sharing a post you did not wish to share is no longer an issue. It is simply a digital journal. Nothing more, nothing less. That said, it has quite a few features for a basic digital journal.
That is pretty much it. It has taken me years to figure out what works best for me, but I finally think I am there – at least until the next best thing comes along.
I have been using Evernote for years and just started using Scrivener last year! I definitely second your endorsement. (Thanks for the rec on Red Notebook; I’ll be sure to check it out.)
But I especially agree with you on the value of a writing critique group. I’ve been part of one in Buffalo for over a year now. Not only have I made great friends and gotten valuable feedback on my novel, regularly attending has forced me to make regular progress for the weekly meetings, like homework, when I might have otherwise let life get in the way.
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Thank you for your great comment! I met some of my best friends in MMW, and their critique process is invaluable.