Last week we met Nigel Bartlett, an author who resides in Sydney that I met at Melbourne’s Queermance Festival. Nic Starr also lives here in Sydney and I met her at the same event.
Nic dips between indie releases and romances for Dreamspinner Press, but I’m not going to say too much more about her as she’s written a lovely introduction in her guest post.
Over lunch one day, Kevin asked me about the tools I use when writing. It led to an interesting discussion about how technology can be used to complement a very creative process. Following that lunch, Kevin asked if I’d like to share that information on his blog. So here goes.
I come from a corporate background. I have always been extremely analytical and worked in the areas of process improvement and project management – data, spreadsheets, project plans and so on. My escape from all of this was reading and getting lost in stories, and eventually I started reviewing and blogging. One day someone (another m/m author) asked me why I didn’t write my own books. To be honest, I was surprised – it wasn’t something I’d ever considered, after all I was a process driven person, not creative. But the seed was sown, and now I can’t imagine not writing. However, I have managed to incorporate all my structured tools into my writing process. So, let me share some of those processes and tools with you.
Each of these tools help me streamline my process, manage information, and increase my productivity.
Scrivener – I adore my Scrivener! Scrivener is a piece of software that enables me to store my research, manage character profiles, and draft my manuscript. It allows me to outline my story and capture ideas. It makes a breeze of composing a synopsis, and can be used for formatting the final output.
Scapple and Aeon – Scapple and Aeon both integrate with Scrivener. Scapple is mind-mapping software. I use it as the first main step in my story development process. I brain-storm the story outline and capture in Scapple. I import into Scrivener, where each idea becomes a ‘scene’ in Scrivener. Once in Scrivener, I can re-order and modify as needed. Aeon is used to manage the timeline of my story. It’s particularly useful when working on series where you have overlapping timelines.
Dragon Naturally Speaking – I’m relatively new to the world of speech-to-text but I’m giving it a try and having some good success. I use Dragon Naturally Speaking when I’m sitting at my computer and it captures my speech and converts it to text.
Voice Record Pro – This is a handy app on the iPhone (it might be available on other platforms but I haven’t checked.). I use this when I’m out and about, or not in front of the laptop. I record my scene or ideas, basically anything I want to capture. The app syncs to my Dropbox account so I can retrieve the audio files later. Once I’m back at my computer, I transcribe the recording using Dragon Naturally Speaking. Voila!
Pinterest – I’m quite a visual person. Pinterest is the tool I use to save photos and music etc, related to each of my stories. I do keep a lot of images in my Scrivener research folders too, but it’s nice to have the inspiration boards on public display in case any readers are keen to see them. The photos might be inspiration pics of the main characters, or rooms of the houses where they live, or recipes they’ve cooked, music they listen to, and so on.
Evernote – Perfect for storing information. I use Evernote to manage lists of character names, future story ideas, and book title suggestions. I also clip articles to my Evernote that cover many topics related to the craft of writing and book marketing.
5KWPM – Another handy little app on my iPhone. I use it to do motivational writing sprints.
MS Excel – My key spreadsheets cover sales data, novel tracking (capturing all the milestones for each book), and my writing plan.
Dropbox – back up, back up, back up!
I haven’t gone into a whole lot of detail about each tool, but since I do get a lot of questions about my writing process, I’ve decided to do a more detailed series of blog posts on my blog in early 2017. If there’s something you’d particularly like to know more about, leave a comment and I’ll be sure to address it. I’ll also be inviting some authors, such as Kevin, to share their experiences.
Thank you so much for having me visit, Kevin. I’m looking forward to hearing how Scrivener is working out for you.
To find out more about Nic Starr and her books, check out her website.Thanks Nic. And yes, I love Scrivener, and like you, I record notes and quotes on my phone. You have me curious about Scrapple and Evernote, though. Something I’ll have to check out.
Next week will be our last Writer’s Tip for this series and comes from a Canadian writer who has been a guest blogger before on my site – Nathan ‘Burgoine.