Notes from An Alien

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Tag Archives: Notebooks

More Conversation about Aids for Writers . . .


Writing Aids The first post in this conversation series was on Monday, July 30th; and, we had three folks comment about which writing aids they use—from Germany, Jamaica, and Australia—all accomplished authors—three glimpses into writers’ routines…

First, Germany:

“I usually write on my laptop nowadays. When I started as a writer I scribbled on paper, but I gave that up as it’s simply too much work to transfer the text into a digital version; although, this process was a step in revision. But, I still make notes on paper, mostly because I still haven’t found the best way to organize notes. Evernote is alright for keeping track on revisions, though.

“I try not to sit at my desk when writing, which means I have to get up when I want to look up words in my printed (!) dictionary and thesaurus. I return to my desk when the revision stage starts, and then I have my dictionary close at hand. I prefer the printed and the online version, the app is uncomfortable to use.

“I have some books about writing. Some are useful, some not (to me). I believe in learning by examples, therefore I read a lot, and in learning by doing, therefore I write. It does seem to work for me ;-) “

And, here’s Jamaica:

“I’m not going to dwell on what I used to do decades ago, which is writing by hand… Once I was introduced to Wattpad, I was ‘re-hooked’ to writing—then I discovered Scrivener. It is now indispensable to me, it helps me organize my writing, and makes navigating and locating old scenes for cross-referencing and consistency very easy. There is so much more it helps with, but that was the immediate takeaway when I started using it: keeping track of all my scenes…

“Then there’s the Grammarly plugin. I particularly like the fact it explains why something might be wrong, and thus I learn from my mistakes. I use the free version and wait for when they offer discounts to subscribe to the full capabilities for 3 months when I need to.
“Another app I plan to subscribe to, when I’ve completed my novel and am ready to do some serious editing and revising, is the ProWritingAid editing tool. I tested its free 500 words-at-a-time limit editor, and its functionalities are impressive, starting from analyzing my writing. Actually, I won’t need to subscribe to Grammarly when I’m using this app.

“I might also try MasterWriter… perhaps… I came across it recently and am glancing at it out of the corner of my eye… It helps to expand the vocabulary.”

Now, Australia:

“I use Scrivener for writing the whole novel, sometimes Ulysses for short stuff ( a change is as good as a holiday); and, Inspiration, Tinderbox and Scapple for planning. I often use Dragon by Nuance for voice dictation—it could type up the Magna Carta without a mistake. I diffuse essential oils, listen to various tracks on iTunes. I meditate using Insight meditation app and I meet other writers in a virtual world to hang out together and talk about writing. They ‘aid’ me.

“I don’t like being disturbed by noise so I often wear a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones, which block out all other noise, especially noisy televisions, even if you don’t pipe music through them. They are magical.

“If I ever win the lottery, I intend to get one of those cute little garden sheds where I can work far away from the bustle of the house and ignore everyone else… :-) “

Quite a variety of writing aids—from digital to tactile…

In case you wonder about my writing aids, check out the first post in this conversation

So…

If you’re a writer, what do you use to help you get the words on the page…?

If you’re not a writer, but want to be, what aids do you think would help…?

If you have friends who write, do you know what they use as aids…?

And, you can share what writing aids you wish you had… :-)

All it takes is one comment to have this discussion continue…
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Blog Conversation about Aids for Writers . . .


Writing Aids Our last conversation—How and Why Writers Write—ended on Friday, July 27th, because it received no comments. If you go to that last link you can access all 5 of the posts in that discussion…

So

Here we go, talking about aids for writers—actually, anything that helps a writer write :-)

If your a writer, you probably use at least a few writing aids; and, you’ve more than likely tried out even more…

If you know a writer, you may have seen many different aids—on their desk or in use…

I suppose it starts for most with a pencil and/or pen; then goes to a small cluster of instruments for getting the words down on the page; then, come the different notebooks; and………

I came across a humorous yet edifying article entitled, Stationery Packing List for a Writer’s Conference. Worth reading…

Then, come the book-aids: dictionaries, thesauri, encyclopedias, even books about “how” to write (though, many writers will say there are no “rules”; but, my favorite fiction author does have a short list… And, her most famous rule is,“Follow no rule off a cliff”).

And, there must be writers who’ve started their craft on computers of various types (plus, on Wattpad, most of the folks write on their phones…)… Then, there are all the various digital aids for writing…

Long before I even thought I was a writer, I spent hour after hour inside encyclopedias, swiftly moving on to novels…

Many authors consider the act of reading a major aid to learning their craft—reading the kind of writing you want to do; and, if you’re not sure what you want to write, reading “everything”…

And, if the writer is a self-publisher, there are whatever aids that process necessitates…

Personally, I’ve gone through the stage of trying out scads of digital aids during my “apprenticeship”; but nearly all of them have slipped into the fog of the past…

Now, I read, a lot; and, I have an app on my computer that has 4 dictionaries and 2 thesauri; plus, every so often, I check the Etymology dictionary

Finally, I do all my composition in a simple .rtf word processor, use Google Docs if I need something like a Word.doc format; and Calibre for various e-book formats…

So

What writing aids do you use…?

And, if your not a writer, what do any writers you know use…?

Plus, if you can’t yet call yourself a writer, what aids are you using to become a writer…?

But, please don’t feel like no one would want to know which aids you (or, a friend) may use to help with writing—sharing it in the comments could, very well, help another writer………
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If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
OR >>> Send me a free Voice Message

A Trick of The Writers’ Trade . . .


note-taking Line up 100 writers

Ask them all to share one “trick” they use to help them in their writing

Odds are you’ll have between 70 and 90 different tips.

Sure I made that statistic up but it is based on a bit of experience :-)

Suffice to say, there are a scad of individual little unique approaches to getting the writing job done.

Try this one on for fit…

Many writers use notebooks—physical or digital—and checking those 100 writers again would produce around 40 to 60 different approaches to making notes—though, these stats may be greatly inflated by my rather optimistic opinion of the individuality of writers :-)

What if you kept a special notebook/file/space that had a running list of all the odd, hard to categorize ideas and partial ideas you have?

And, further, what if, every so often, you read that master odd-idea file to yourself?

This is not my idea.

I’m sharing just one of Steven Johnson‘s ideas

One of the books he’s written is Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation.

Let me share some of his thinking about that master odd-idea file from an article by him on a site called MediumThe Spark File:

“The problem with hunches is that it’s incredibly easy to forget them, precisely because they’re not fully-baked ideas.”

“And even the ones that you do manage to retain often don’t turn out to be useful to you for months or years, which gives you countless opportunities to lose track of them.”

“…for the past eight years or so I’ve been maintaining a single document where I keep all my hunches: ideas for articles, speeches, software features, startups, ways of framing a chapter I know I’m going to write, even whole books.”

“…the key habit that I’ve tried to cultivate is this: every three or four months, I go back and re-read the entire spark file.”

“Sure, I end up reading over many hunches that never went anywhere, but there are almost always little sparks that I’d forgotten that suddenly seem more promising. And it’s always encouraging to see the hunches that turned into fully-realized projects or even entire books.”

Then, he gives seven random examples of his Sparks—and, then, this:

“…the most interesting part of the experience, which is the feeling of reading through your own words describing new ideas as they are occurring to you for the first time. In a funny way, it feels a bit like you are brainstorming with past versions of yourself. You see your past self groping for an idea that now seems completely obvious five years later. Or, even better, you’re reminded of an idea that seems suddenly relevant to a new project you’ve just started thinking about.”

So, how does this writer’s tip strike you?

Is it too simple to work?

Is it a genius use of time and mind?

Think you could implement it?

Please, do, share you ideas and opinions in the Comments :-)
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