The last decade has seen an increase in programs to help writers plot, write and read their books — but there are also plenty of non-writing tools that writers can use to help them create their masterpieces. At the company where I work, CompletelyNovel, we use digital tools every day to streamline their tasks. Here are our top 10 tools to help writers write.
If you’re working on a Microsoft Word file or similar, regularly save your file to Dropbox. That will keep an archive of all previous saves (just in case the worst happens and you accidentally delete the whole thing! It sounds silly, but it’s guaranteed to happen to every writer at some point in their careers). It’s free to download and easy to use.
2. Google Docs
Working via a Google Document is particularly great if you’re collaborating on a project with another writer, or are enlisting the services of an editor. It allows two people to log in to the same document and work on it at the same time. It also automatically saves your work for you, so you’re less likely to lose it, should your computer suddenly fail, or you accidentally close the window. To make use of it, create a Gmail account and click on “Drive.” You can create all kinds of things!
4. Sticky notes
Most computers come with sticky notes in some form or another. They look and work a lot like Post-it notes that you can stick to your desktop to remind you to do something. They’re also great if you need to quickly jot something down in a rush, like a new scene or story idea.
Most people will recognize this as the “undo” key. It works on most programs and browsers — just hold down Ctrl and press “Z”, and watch that paragraph you just accidentally lost, reappear! (If you use a Mac it’s Cmd + Z.)
Pressing F11 in any window will allow you to go into “Full Screen” mode. This eradicates any distractions, such as your email blinking in your start bar, or your Twitter tab — and allows you to concentrate on writing. (On a Mac it’s Ctrl + Cmd + F)
If you’re trying to create something — whether that’s a story, a book cover or even book-themed gifts — Pinterest is a great tool that allows you to take useful advice articles and images from across the Internet and pin them on your own board. It works in the same way as a corkboard, and is great for creating moodboards to help you describe a character or location, or to keep track of your favorite websites.
This nifty program is free to use and works in your Internet browser — allowing you to easily create flowcharts and diagrams. If you’re stuck in your plot or are planning your novel, this is a great tool to help you visualize your thoughts and help you analyze how you might get from “a” to “b.”
9. Gmail Streak
This app uses your Gmail account and was originally designed for those working in sales. The app works with your emails and lets you create a “box” for each contact and track their responses. This app is perfect for any authors who are sending out to agents, competitions or press, as it’ll allow you to schedule chase-up emails and ensure you aren’t accidentally submitting to the same person twice.
After a day writing indoors, it’s always a good idea to make sure you get outside and stretch your legs/eyes. But for those days that you just can’t bear to change out of your pajamas to go to the shops and get some food — there is HungryHouse. Enter your postcode and search a range of takeaway restaurants that will deliver to your door.
Sarah Juckes is Communications Manager for CompletelyNovel, where this post first appeared. CompletelyNovel is an online publishing platform and author community that aims to make book publishing simple through use of online tools.