Friday, November 4, 2022

What We Use to Write

Everyone is going to be bored with asking this question year after year because my answers haven't changed in a very long time. 

Writing Applications:

1. Word for Windows. I started with Word way back in the stone age. It's what we're required to use in my professional life. It's where I am most comfortable. Could I learn something else? Yes. Other authors extol the virtues of Scrivner, for example. But there's significant learning curve. Why spend time on that learning curve when I could be use the time and brain space for story? Not to mention that whenever I see authors compare notes about something like Scrivner, I invariably hear that plotters love it and pantsers hate it. Add into it that in the day job, it's literally my task to learn all the technical things. I don't have to fully learn a thing. I dip my toes in just enough to understand a technology, write about it, and then walk away to go learn about the next thing. I am not all interested in forcing myself to do that super deep dive into a new writing software. Word is simple. I don't have to think about what needs to happen to create a file I can submit to an editor or to format for self publishing. I've learned enough tricks in the application that I can make it do just about anything I need it to do. The only down side is the fact that grammar and spell checker in Words are idiots. They are tweaked for business speak. Not fiction. For that reason, neither can be trusted. I fully admit to being horrified at how many actual words aren't in the spell check dictionary. I wish I'd kept one example for you but I naturally can't think of one at the moment.

4theWords: 4theWords is an online gamification of word counts. It isn't a competition - you aren't competing with anyone else or even with yourself. You fight creatures who have been infected. If you defeat them, you've helped cure them. As you 'battle' creatures by attaining a word count in a set amount of time, you win in-game cash and prizes. This really is a case of the pen being mightier than the sword. There's a narrative story arc through the game that you can follow and a million special events that take place in the game through out the year. It works because there's a vibrant community in the game and with the developers. It's a fun, supportive, no pressure way to practice. To experiment. It's private enough that you can try out anything you'd like with writing and not have to worry about it being seen. If you like what you come up with, you can publish your work to the other writers on the site. Or take your work out into the broader world. I like it just as a means of experimentation and a bit of a sandbox where I can low-stakes mess around with words and bits of story and thought.

OmmWriter: OmmWriter is a lightweight environment meant to eliminate distraction and help silence the critic. The writing screen is tiny and sits within a full screen landscape. OmmWriter blocks all other alerts and notifications that run underneath. You won't hear your email pinging into your inbox, for example. You determine your preferred landscape, your preferred color scheme, and your preferred background sounds. Some are natural, some are musical. You can decide whether you want a key stroke sound or not. If you do, you pick from a variety of sounds. This is purely a drafting tool where the point is going fast without much thought into spelling, grammar, or structure. It's about getting words down and shutting down analysis until you copy and paste the words into something more formal. Like Word. Upside: Very inexpensive. Very zen. Does reduce distraction and helps induce flow. Downside: No formatting at all. When you pull your text over to Word, you will need to format the text into something decent.

Bonus tool
Tidal: Music streaming. I do not live by words alone. Music is vital. Especially whilst living in a house of four adults, three of whom are hard of hearing. I am not being facetious. Everyone in the house but me has or needs hearing aids. It is very loud where I live. A good play list and noise canceling headphones are a necessity.

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