Back in September 2013, I wrote this post about my “top 10 writing tools” and I recently went to link to it in answer to a question about things to go in a NaNoWriMo survival kit…. and realised how things have changed in 8 years (odd, that!)
So today, I figured I’d take a look back at my “old” list and update it for 2021.
Ten Things I Need To Write Effectively
1) Music. I still use Windows Media Player or Youtube for my music player – as Spotify doesn’t have a lot of the music I like to listen to in its libraries. I listen to a lot of game soundtracks and official OSTs, especially for atmospheric music without lyrics. Equally, my favourite rock and pop songs help me feel upbeat and motivated if I’m struggling with a block.
2) Idea Organisation Methods. I still use Evernote, however in the last decade they have changed their business model so I use a mix of places, including Google Drive, Dropbox, Workflowy, Evernote and Scrivener.
3) Microsoft Word 2007. I had to laugh at this point, because I used to use Word 2003 (in 2013) and now I’ve upgraded to….. *drummroll* Word 2007. Yes, in 2021. I’m a trend-setter alright.
I use Scrivener for my “story binder” but don’t tend to write the actual story in it. Over the past 2-3 months I’ve been trialling writing my novel scenes in Google Docs, but I’m finding some difficulties in this since I’m editing a previous manuscript. For a brand new document, this would probably work fine, but currently I have my current draft document, and my “plot” with scene list and notes for edits document both open.
4) Scrivener. I still love this program, and yet I still use it for storyboarding and as a ‘story binder’ rather than to actually write my stories inside. I’m getting used to the new version ready for NaNoWriMo this year, and I’m loving the changes they’ve made as I might even try to do some edits inside the program itself. But for plots, timelines, and a library of my characters, settings and magic systems, it’s grand.
5) Clothing. I want to write that this a newer ‘tool’ but realistically, I just didn’t think of it as an item when I wrote the last list. Gloves are a ‘must’ for me – I used to use fingerless gloves just because it was winter and I began NaNo at University in a not-brilliant-rented-student-room, but these days I wear these gorgeous writing gloves from Storiarts and they just get me “in the zone.”
I also have a hair ribbon that I pretty much only wear for Halloween and then the month of November and i’ve come to know it as my “NaNo” hair ribbon, so again, it just puts me in the zone. If you want to know a bit more about how certain things can be “anchors” for a feeling or mindset, I spoke about this on my podcast here.
6) Community. I barely read during NaNoWriMo – partly because I don’t want to accidentally steal, partly because time spent reading isn’t spent writing. But I have found that having my writing community on youtube and discord has been invaluable to winning NaNoWriMo while working a full-time job. Something about going through the process of writing together really does improve motivation, helps with those times we need to get out of our own head. I also use Youtube as a way to watch other writer’s get creative.
7) Drinks. I drink coffee maybe once a month, and drink herbal teas. I’ve also found that I need to stop drinking caffeine by 5pm, so for me, this looks like flavoured water, decaf teas, and various green teas for the mornings when I need a boost.
8) Keyboard and Mouse. Although I often write on my phone, I always bring the manuscripts together on my laptop and a mouse and plug-in keyboard are definitely pros in both my writing speed and in pulling everything together.
9) Food. For me, this is a mix of ‘unhealthy treats’ like sweets, chocolate bars, and even ice cream — but I also try to balance this during NaNoWriMo with batch-cooked meals I can easily reheat and healthier snacks like nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables, and bread snacks. It’s useful to have both food that requires me to get up from my chair, and food which I can access at my desk – so I don’t get up every five minutes to procrastinate by eating.
10) Knowing How You Work Best. This is likely the most important ‘tool’ for writing 50,000 words in 30 days. Having completed and ‘won’ the challenge for ten years, I have discovered what does and does not work for me. There is some variation over time, for sure, but some things are just… how my brain works.
Do you like writing for 1 minute or 15 minutes? How do you find typing on your phone instead of the computer? Are you better to write 100 words a day for 7 days or only write 3 days a week and increase the amount?