On Writing: Tech Tools for Writing on the Go

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Banned Books Week is wrapping up, and NaNoWriMo will soon be upon us. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month; participants challenge themselves to write a 50,000 word rough draft novel in thirty days. Since I’ve recently attended a writing conference (which I will post about later) and am also planning to participate in the November writing challenge, I thought a short post about writing resources would be appropriate. Some of them are, no doubt, already familiar to you–though others may not be. I’m focusing on smart phone tools available for use on the go and with (or possibly without) internet access.

Nanowrimo.org — Signing up for the November challenge gives you access to all this site has to offer. There are word count bars, writing buddies to “compete” against, and forums full of advice and encouragement. The biggest resource of Nanowrimo is the wave of creative energy of an entire online (and off) writing community doing the same crazy thing at the same time!

http://ywp.nanowrimo.org  — The Young Writers’ Program is the site for Nanowrimo participants under the age of eighteen. The challenge is basically the same, but participants set their own word goals. The site is also geared to be friendlier and safer for younger participants.

http://www.merriam-webster.com — This convenient online dictionary contains articles about grammar and word origins, as well as definitions.

http://www.thesaurus.com — This online thesaurus does exactly what you would expect: gives the synonyms and antonyms of words you type into the search field. Easy.

Google Docs (or Google Drive) — You need to sign up for a Google account for this, but then you have a wealth of information at your fingertips. Google Docs allows you to create remote text documents using their wordprocessing software, which can then be downloaded by you from any internet connection. If you have a smart phone, you can also use the app to write. Google Drive allows you to organize your docs into folders.

Evernote.com — Since I’m currently writing this post as a note on the website, I would be remiss to not mention how wonderfully convenient the site, the widgets, and the accompanying apps are to my writing routine. If you put your phone in airplane mode, you can also use the app offline. Like Google Docs, Evernote allows you to write and organize your text. While the wordprocessing is not as easy as Google Docs, the widgets and the ability to easily put photos into my notes makes Evernote my primary writing tool. For example, I went to a conference; when given a business card, I would photograph it with my phone, then attach the photo into a note via the Evernote widget. In classes, I would do the same thing with the handout sheets–that way I could always have the information on hand without having to sift through a bunch of papers. The Evernote widget also allows you to record audio notes. I also frequently work on poems and short stories this way, and I also write in a daily journal via Evernote.

Email — If you don’t want to take advantage of the other sites and apps, you can always send yourself an email with whatever literary inspiration occurs to you. I actually wrote a chapter of my last NaNoWriMo novel as an email while on a class field trip with my son.

BigFoto.com  — This site allows you to freely download photos for use in blogs, etc.–provided you adhere to copyright and give the appropriate credit.

FreeMusicArchive.org — This music-sharing site is “an interactive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads” designed for the digital age. Again, you should always read the rules and give appropriate credit, but this is a great way to listen to some music while you write. When I podcasted years ago, I downloaded my theme music from this site.

Twitter.com — While many people seem to think of this social media site as a frivolous waste of time, I have found it to be an excellent resource. Twitter allows you to follow other people who post things you are interested in, using lists and hashtags as organizational tools. I’ve used Twitter as my online writing group for nine years; I have been offered writing opportunities, gotten free books, and kept in touch with friends and acquaintances all through the site. I find the phone app easy to use, and when I have a quick writing question– someone on twitter usually can answer it for me pretty quickly. I can honestly say that Twitter and NaNoWriMo both helped me achieve my first publishing credit. So far my credits are primarily for short stories and poems, and I’m sure my eventual novel publication will also be directly connected to those online sites.

There are way too many resources for me to name in a single post, but those are the ones that I use most frequently and find most helpful. I hope this post helps you also. Have a lovely week!

 

*I also hope to see you again next Friday for another flash fiction story, written for the #FridayFlash meme on Twitter. In two weeks, I will post writing advice I took away from the recent conference I attended.

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