If we think about the equipment writers use, we’ve come a long way from the good ol’ quill and parchment, haven’t we?
I’m from the generation that even used typewriters at one point of time, though to be fair I broke my typing skills on an electronic one – a fabulous piece of machinery from Brother. I didn’t just type on it, but generated graphs and charts and all kinds of drafts.
From there things moved to the computer, where I started out on that venerable tool for editing – WordPerfect. I would accompany my father to his office occasionally after school, and picked up computer basics as well as a reasonably fast typing speed. Indeed, I even adopted a typing style all of my own despite learning the correct method.
Microsoft Word probably transformed the lives of prolific writers, and if JK Rowling had it she wouldn’t have had to type out her entire manuscript.
Over the last decade or more, we’ve evolved to using a variety of software and technology:
This remains the no. 1 choice of word processor for writers all around the world. Google Docs comes a close second, I believe. I don’t use it much but some of my fellow writers are addicts. Here’s a helpful article to help you decide if you’re wondering which is best for you.
If you are looking for a tool to plot and outline their novels or books, Scrivener should zoom in to the top of your list. I have recently started using it and found it quite useful, though be warned that it takes time to learn. The good points though – you can use it for a month’s free trial version and then buy it at around $50, which I thought is a decent price point.
The best software for tracking of all kinds, submissions, word counts is a spreadsheet, and Excel quite literally excels at this. Once I have my raw data I create all sorts of pivots to check on my submissions and stats, though not too often because that might lead me into depression!
Grammarly and ProWritingAid
After completing a piece of writing, you can check your grammar and style using these tools. I have checked my pieces in the free versions but for my fiction I haven’t found it as useful and hence I haven’t purchased the paid ones.
Voice recognition software
This allows writers to dictate words and have it converted into text that’s typed out. This is slated to become the next big game-changer for writers, where you can get typed words at the speed of thought. Dragon NaturallySpeaking – Wikipedia Dragon Speech Recognition | Nuance is the most sought-after tool in this arena. I’ll be honest and say I haven’t tried this one, but I do use the speech recognition facility in Office as well as the Notes app on my phone. Those have helped me a lot in completing pieces at a faster pace.
Online systems like Submittable, Moksha and CLMP Submission Manager allow writers to make electronic submissions. Together with email, these systems make it possible for us scribblers to dispatch our literary masterpieces to journals anywhere in the world. Without the internet, this would have otherwise been impossible. As writers of a certain generation may be aware, this previously necessitated the use of IRCs or International Reply Coupons and a lot of sticking of stamps on envelopes!
There’s probably a ton of software out there which writers use but I haven’t mentioned. I haven’t counted social media sites or apps either – we all know they’re a time suck!
If you have any recommendations for writing tools, let me know in the comments!