Tag Archives: iPad

Tools of the Trade

Writing used to be so simple. Grab a pen or pencil, some paper, and off you went. These days, more often than not, writers use a slew of tools for their work that don’t require paper.

When I first tried my hand at NaNoWriMo, I used our iPad with the onscreen keyboard. I got to about 12,000 words with that set-up before I finally petered out. It wasn’t my work station that did me in, but my lack of planning for success.

I often go back to my NaNoWriMo experiences as the times when I can refer to myself as a writer because that’s when I started taking this entire process with some seriousness.

After that failure, Google released the Chromebook computers. They were cheap and came with a ton of storage in the Drive, so I bought one. It was a poor man’s MacBook Air. I loved the size of it. It lacked a light up keyboard which I wanted, but it worked. I tried winning NaNoWriMo the following year, failing at around 20,000 words. I followed it up the next year with my first “win” using the same Chromebook.

Not long after, I wanted something more. The Chromebook wasn’t cutting it. I wrote in the evenings back then and the dark keyboard was an issue. I’d sit in the living room with my wife. She watched television and I wrote. The lamp light wasn’t enough.

That summer, I bought an Asus Windows laptop with Windows 8 and a backlit keyboard. The interface was clunky but I got used to it. The only issue I had was the freaking space bar! When I typed, I guess the way I hit the bar wasn’t sufficient and I’d get frustrated as my words jumbled together.

computer-1839667_960_720Not long after, my wife started online schooling and needed a more robust computer than her MacBook Air. Her mom had a MacBook Pro, so with some cash and my Asus, we made a three way trade. My wife got the Pro, I got the Air, and my mother-in-law got the Asus. That set-up has worked great until recently.

About a week ago I got a new MacBook Air with a larger screen cause these older eyes had a hard time seeing on the smaller screen. Such is life I guess.

I’ve used several writing programs over the years but I’ve settled on two. My main writing program is Scrivener. I love how easy it is to change chapters, customize headings, and create usable files. And as far as cost, it’s one of the more affordable options. Of course, Open Office and the word processor on Google Drive are free, so there’s that.

I also use Microsoft Word. I’ve found as much as I love Scrivener, sometimes I have a need for the trusty Word program. It’s great for formatting paperback books. I use it for Standard Manuscript formatting when submitting short stories. I’m sure Scrivener could do it, but the program is so complex at times I can’t find what I need.

So that’s it, my tools of the trade. I work on a MacBook Air using Scrivener and MS Word. It’s worked so far, though I’m always up for learning new programs and practices to make my process better. What about you? What’s the set-up you use for your writing? What’s your go-to writing program? I’d love to hear if we’re alike or if you’ve got something else that works better.

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Morning Routine of a Non-Best Selling Author

My morning routine is simple and works for me.

I get up most mornings at 4 am. Yeah, I know it’s early. I’ve always been an early riser and it seems the older I get, the earlier I wake up.

I start the coffee and get my little chihuahua settled in on the couch.

I’ll read and play stupid little games on my iPad for about an hour. I’ve recently cut back on those “stupid little games” because my focus needs to be on something more worthwhile. It’s during this time of the morning I’ll read short stories. I subscribe to Daily Daily Science Fiction and EveryDayFiction.com. Both sites offer free flash fiction. DSF is only Monday – Friday while EDF is, well, every day! I’ll also read from the current issue of Nightmare Magazine, which I subscribe to (though it’s not free). However, they do offer some stories for free on their website.

Right around 5 am, I used to read whatever current novel I’m reading for about an hour. However, since the beginning of July, I’ve used that time to focus on my daily social media posts instead, if I haven’t done them the night before. I’ll schedule Tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram posts using Hootesuite. I’ve switched from Buffer to Hootesuite to better control what I’m sending out and hopefully not come across as spammy. In any case, it’s this hour of the morning where I get all that taken care of. I’m a bit more awake then (bless you coffee!) and my mind can focus better.

ChairBy the time 6 am rolls around, I’ll already have showered and dressed and fed my zoo. All 3 cats and 2 dogs get fed and the dogs taken out to do their business. I’ll grab something quick to eat for breakfast, usually the same thing: whole wheat english muffin with peanut butter. I don’t like wasting time thinking about something different to eat. The sooner I get it over with, the sooner I can get back to my work.

After all that, it gives me about an hour of uninterrupted time to write before I leave for work. My writing spot is a reclining love seat next to two large windows. I’ll open the blinds for a great morning view and my chihuahua joins me. She’ll perch herself on the arm or curl up next to me while I write.

It’s a quiet hour despite the rest of the house waking and getting ready for work and school. I can usually knock out anywhere from 500-1,000 words per writing session. Most mornings it’s my current novel or I’ll break up the work and switch to a new short story. When the hour is up, it’s off to work.

So that’s it. On the weekends it might differ slightly, but that’s my normal morning routine.

What do your mornings look like? Do you get more done? If so, I’d love to hear your routine. I’m always up for learning new ways of doing things. If your mornings are completely different, I’d love to hear that too!