One of the panel questions I had at the Kannapolis Writer’s Block was “What do you wish someone had told you about writing when you started.” Honestly, there were so many things that I had trouble coming up with just one. That got me thinking about how to best deploy the avenues I have available to me as an author. My books allow me to be creative. My newsletter is aimed to keep people who enjoy said books informed as well as to get to know me a bit better. Facebook I post bits and pieces about my life, where I’ll be etc. Instagram I use to post cool pictures from Cons and signings. Twitter is mostly marketing stuff. So what about my blog? With so many channels why bother? That’s when that pesky question came back to me. What didn’t I know? I’m a programmer by day so I dig technology but really barely scratched the surface of what was out there. So I decided to use the blog to talk about technology and how it specifically can be used to enhance your writing and marketing for your materials. If you have questions or things you’d like to see, drop them in the comments.

On to the blog….

The Evolution of My Writing Process

For people of a certain age this is how you started writing.

If you were lucky it had a correction ribbon built in.

Since then there have been a few upgrades to the writing process. Over the past few years my personal writing process and the software I’ve used has changed drastically as newer and more robust packages have been introduced. As with most things in writing, my process works for me. YMMV.

 

Microsoft Word

In the beginning there was Word and it worked. In fact a lot of authors I know still use Word as their primary writing tool. The three failed novels I started were written exclusively in Word. Now, I don’t use word until I get to editing, where track changes and comments are essential to working with my editors. My big issue is Word as far as writing novels is the sheer size of the files tends to slow things down and makes it difficult to move around in the book, especially if you don’t write in a linear fashion. There is the option of creating a file per chapter to eliminate this but I find it difficult to work in.

So that led me to …

Scrivener (www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener/overview)

This is one of those writer issues that gets a lot of commenting. This is along the lines of Windows/Mac. Writers who like Word usually hate Scrivener and vice versa. My first book, Storm Forged, I wrote exclusively in Scrivener. The cards make rearranging or finding your work extremely easy. There are a lot of organizational features that I use, including keeping character bios, extra info and reference materials. Scrivener also outputs to just about any format from Word to PDF to Kindle/Nook that you could want. It makes sending out copies to my beta readers and editors much easier. My favorite feature is the project targets that let’s you track your progress on a project. It also make getting your daily word count easy if you track it and I do religiously. The down side is the spell check and grammar tools aren’t very good. When you export to Word, for example, the document lights up all the errors that Scrivener missed.

That leads to the next tool I use in my writing process…

ProWritingAid (www.prowritingaid.com)

Since the word processing is so bad in Scriver, I started using ProWritingAid to handle those duties, but it does SOOOOO much more. Not only can it do spelling and grammar but the tool will find words you are using to often (down is the word I’m replacing in book 2. Everything was freaking down when I was writing it evidently.) It will give you readability scores and how long a passage would take to read and a whole lot more. It will open your Scrivener project and you can run the tools on the material you wrote in Scrivener (which is what I do) or you can use ProWritingAid as your word processor and save it into the Scrivener format. Either way you get cleaner writing and can still output for your editor when you’re done. The down side is that large Word documents do not work well, so I don’t use it once I’ve sent in my manuscript. I just finished a new book using this method and it made a world of difference.


 

Evernote (www.evernote.com)

So Evernote isn’t part of my process per se, but I use it constantly to create my artifacts (or bible) for my books. The wonderful part is you can easily share these notebooks with anyone else. I used to use OneNote but my editor Erin couldn’t open the files. For book2, I moved everything to Evernote and now she has access to all the notes, pictures etc that I’ve built up over two books. My next thing will be to build a timeline that covers every book in the series so we can catch inconsistencies easier. There is a free version that works great, so no money out of pocket.


 

As I said at the beginning, this is how I work. Is it ideal to use four pieces of software to write and track a book? Not really, but I can pick and choose the features I find the most useful and saving time and energy makes the already challenging task of producing a 100k book a lot easier. Book 2 in Darkest Storm took me 5 months to write. Book 1 in my new series took two months using the method I laid out above. I’m not suggesting that using this method saved me three months. What it did do is minimize the amount of time I wasted searching for stuff or trying to line edit so that my beta readers didn’t have to deal with 4 million typos.

I hope you’ve found this useful. Please leave a comment or question or what else would you like to read about.

Until next time,

Patrick