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How I Write

How I Write

We all have our particular setups for writing or creating. Sometimes I hear my friends’ creative process and I think what in the world made you decide to try that? My process might not work for anyone else but I’ve found I love several of these tools.

Location

While I like to shock my system and change locations, I typically write in only a handful of places. I have a special writing area set up in my bedroom with a comfortable chair and table. I also like to write at Starbucks (not because I drink coffee). There are 3 Starbucks that are convenient to my house and my daughter’s sitter (with free wifi and somewhere to sit out of the heat). I usually drink the green tea lemonade.

I also work quite often at a local coffee shop called JoZarra’s that has the best wheat-free chocolate chip cookies and chicken-salad ever. (My daughter gets so mad when I got without her and she misses out on their grilled cheese and brownies.)

Tools

(Like my location piece, I change this up as I need to to spark my imagination.)

Tablet

I write long-hand on my tablet most of the time (so I don’t have so many paper pages to transcribe!). To do so I use a combination of tools: a Google Nexus 7 Tablet, a Wacom Bamboo stylist, a handwriting recognition app called 7notes with Mazec, Evernote and Fade In Screenwriting Software. (See below for more details on each piece.)

The Google Nexus 7 runs on Android and that, with it’s price point, was part of the appeal to me. I already had an Android phone that I had been using for a while, and I’ve never owned anything Apple. Nothing against them. I just didn’t want to learn how to use new software. With the price on this over $200 cheaper than the Apple Mini, I really didn’t see any appeal in new software. I’ve been using this for over 7 months and I love it. It’s small enough to hold in one hand while I read a book or write, and fits nicely in several stands. I’ve had no trouble at all with the interface or the device.

Battery life is amazing. Even if I use it every day for several hours, I don’t usually need to charge it more than once a week. I found that if  searching for WiFi if it’s in my purse kills the battery worse than anything else.

Wacom Bamboo Stylus

After my daughter broke four “cheap” styluses, I ordered this fine-point Wacom Bamboo Stylus. My daughter has a $5 cheap one she gets to use if she gets a treat of playing on my tablet.

The Bamboo is made from brushed aluminum and is just the right weight to have balance and not need added pressure, but also doesn’t wear your hand out from holding it. It has a 4mm tip. (About half the size of a normal stylus.) It quite smooth to use. I’ve been using it for about 4 months and I can tell it’s going to need a new nib soon, but the replacements are cheap. Even at $18-25, I’ve found it more cost effective than buying a new stylus 2-3 times a month.

7Notes with Mazec

Okay. This one has a weird title. I know. I think that ever time I suggest it to someone. But, as far as handwriting apps go, 7Notes with Mazec just works. I have terrible handwriting, and it still works. It even has learned my half-cursive, half-print mess and rarely gives me the wrong word. I had to stumble around buy several apps, test them quickly, and return them before settling on this one. You don’t have to worry about any of that Graffiti shorthand mess, if you recall trying to use a Palm. (If you use Apple, give Penultimate a try.)

Evernote

You can read more about my dependence on Evernote in this post. I love it’s Clipper. I love that I can keep notes simultaneous on all my devices. I love that it reads images if I search for a word.

Fade In Screenwriting Software

Out of all the wfade in showriting software out there, I’m sure the biggest question is why would a novelist use a screenwriting software? First, it’s not that different from Scrivenger, Celtx, Storist, Storybook or any of the other Novelist softwares. But each has it’s own grouping of features.

I needed a really specific combination of Linux, Android, and Windows compatibility. Scrivenger has a Windows desktop program, but only has iPhone support. Storist and Storybook don’t even have Windows compatibility (totally iOS based.) Celtx has Windows, Mac, Android and iOS compatibilty

Integration wise- Fade In uses Dropbox to backup all your files and work between devices. When on the Linux or Windows platform, you simple save to Dropbox. You do have an extra button to hit to sync to Dropbox from the Android app, but it’s virtually painless. (If you’ve never used Dropbox, it is a cloud storage service that allows you to access files across multiple devices. The first 2GB of space are free.)

I  found Scrivenger and Celtx a little cluttered to be honest. My favorite aspect of Fade In is the clean, clear screen. It helps me focus, with access to only the basic features I need immediately. If you open the image full size you can see the interface and might be able to pick up a bit of what my current project is about. I also like that it is very easy on the eyes as I might be writing for several hours. (I’ll be discussing it more in depth in a follow up post.)

Fade In has programs for Linux, Windows, Mac, as well as iOS and Android apps. Celtx does have an Android App but I found their Windows platform a bit clunky. They have redone their website since I purchased Fade In so they may have updated their program as well. Celtx has several additional programs like Scout where you can take images for scene setting and another for doing storyboards. (Fade In is text only. I use Evernote for my images.) All of these software’s have free trials. (Celtx’s desktop software is free.)

Desktop

As far as computers go, I have an HP laptop running Windows 7 and Linux Mint. My desktop computer runs Linux Mint.

Handwriting

As I mentioned at the beginning I use a handwriting recognition software on my laptop. For quite a long time I had Moleskines and Leuchtturm notebooks everywhere. I like to write things out but I had trouble finding the notes I wanted and got very overwhelmed trying to continue with handwriting fiction, if I need to skip ahead in the story, or adding notes.  I know many author’s prefer to write long hand. Steven King mentions it several times in On Writing.

I do still keep a Leuchtturm notebook for my journal and to jot notes in while I am out in town. I prefer the Leuchtturm’s to the Moleskine’s because the paper is thicker and creamier, and the bindings of the notebooks are thicker and harder to damage.

And You?

How do you write? I’m very interested to hear your suggestions and tips.

 

  • Loretta

    I love that you have it so you can *write* even when you’re on your tablet or at your computer, that’s a brilliant solution. I often prefer to write things out longhand and I usually end up typing them out later, unless of course I lose the paper or spill coffee on it…

    • I was terrible about loosing my little scraps of paper too and it was costing me a small fortune to have them typed up because I never got the time to do it myself.

      The 7Mazec app works great on smartphones too. I used it on my Revolution and now on my Galaxy SIII as well.

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