Tools I Use

Macbook Air 11.6″ (2012), OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.1

While I still think Window 7 is the most efficient operating system out there for multitasking, I’m getting along fine with OS X. Programs crash in it more often than they did in Windows, but it’s not totally intolerable. And the hardware of the Air is amazing. I love this little machine. Every little thing about it is well-thought out. It’s svelte. It feels solid and strong (within reason). The keyboard and trackpad work, somehow, exactly as you want them too–perfectly responsive, without any finickiness. And that’s a big deal. I’ve never used a Windows trackpad/keyboard that didn’t have palm recognition issues–causing typing all over the screen, really screwing things up and irritating the hell out of me. And the screen is bright, clear, sharp–wonderful. It’s also nearly instant-on, and very fast to reboot if necessary. It has battery life which totally satisfies my needs. And Apple blew me away with the speed that they got my built-to-order MBA to me. I ordered on a Thursday and it arrived at my house the following Tuesday (after being assembled and shipped from CHINA!). For the money I paid, this thing was worth every last penny.

Scrivener

Another good alternative, if you can’t afford Scrivener or are on Windows or Linux and always have internet access when you want to write, is Yarny. It’s free, and it’s excellent. That said, if you’re on Mac, and you don’t always have internet access, I highly recommend Scrivener. It’s great. I’ll write more about it later as I use it more, but for now I’m thrilled with it.

Toggl (toggl.com)

As a writer finally getting serious about writing (imagine that), I’ve realized the value of tracking both the time I spend writing as well as my word count. Both tell me how much I’m doing. One tells me how much time I’m literally putting in, and the other tells me how productive I’m being. Toggl is a free tool (another web app) which makes it extremely easy to track a project (or book). I use it regularly and highly recommend it.

WritersDB (writersdb.com)

You’d never imagine it would be the case, but it turns out there aren’t a lot of tools out there for tracking word count over time. WritersDB gives you that capability. It’s not as intuitive to use as it could be, but it gets the job done. Every day after I do my daily writing (a minimum of 5 minutes a day), I put in my total word count then check the graph it automatically produces (which I also have embedded on my My Word Count page on this blog). I find it motivating to see some visual evidence of my efforts. Ideally–and perhaps I’ll create this tool myself eventually–I’d like to see a writers productivity tracker which would combine the functionality of Toggl and WritersDB. It’d be handy to have the time I spend writing timed, and then after I finish a writing session and “stop” the timer, I could enter the total word count and see both graphed over time.

Anyway, there you have it: those are my primary tools for writing. If you’re on a Mac or PC, I still recommend the above, but Scrivener is also worth a look. The nice thing about the tools above is that #1, they’re all free; and #2, they look and function the same on any system which has a Chrome (or Safari) browser. The only con I can think of is that all three require internet access since they’re web applications.

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