Organizing My Cluttered Mind Part 1: The Tools

     I am not the world’s most organized writer.I admit it. I have the best of intentions. I sit down with my notes, my research, and anything else I might need for any given project., but inevitably, it ends up hopelessly mixed up and all over my work surface. Eventually I just give up and try to work in a sea of papers and tears of frustration!
     I have tried to organize using technology using a few different means. At first, I switched from handwritten manuscripts to using MSWord. That helped a bit, insofar as it allowed me to eliminate the risk of writing a story into the wrong notebook.
    Along came the early 2000s. I stumbled across WriteItNow. The ability to separate my book into chapters and scenes was a handy addition to my writing toolbox. Making character profiles was both easy and had a great deal of depth. Creating personality profiles, character biographies, and keeping notes was easy. I didn’t need as many physical papers while writing. One notebook for quick jotting is all I needed.

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    Finally, last year, I saw Scrivener for the first time. I fell. Hard. It has nearly everything I love about WriteItNow, plus it is super easy to use the software. There was definitely a learning curve with WriteItNow. Creating your own custom templates for projects was not quite as intuitive. And despite my love for the older software, I was not going to find much in the way of tech support. I slowly began transferring to Scrivener. I completed my projects that were closest to completion, then started new projects directly in Scrivener.
    It has done a lot of things very well. The corkboard feature is a favorite, allowing me to jump to the section requiring my attention ASAP.
    The main writing surface in Scrivener is set up quite simply. It is a basic word processing software. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that Word has, but it doesn’t need it. If your goal is to write a manuscript, report, for any heavily text based document, you don’t really need 200 fonts for those types of projects.

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    There are a lot of features I enjoy with this software, including the ability to create ebooks in the format of your choice. If you plan on making your work available on multiple eBook retailer’s sites, this can save a lot of time. My only real gripe about the software is that the character and location profiles are very basic. Basically just a worksheet to fill out. Even after using the software for a little over a year, I still miss the much more in-depth options provided by WriteItNow 4.
    The final piece to my organizational puzzle is my note taking. In an effort to eliminate the use of a physical notebook, I have been using Evernote for the last couple of months. Since my cellphone is always with me, I have the ability to not notes whenever inspiration hits. It is a simple interface, that has won me over due to how easy it is to retrieve this information from other devices for use in my story.

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    Now, as I’ve learned today, while visiting each piece of software’s websites, WriteItNow apparently released version 5.0. Now I know I will be upgrading, to see if Raven’s head has been listening to the wishes of their customers. It will be interesting to see how I feel once I’ve been able to explore the improvements they have made to the overall experience.
    For the writers out there: what do you use to keep yourselves organized? Is anyone still using pen and paper? Typewriter? Is MSWord still the norm, or are people using other pieces of software to organize their thoughts and put them into a publishable form? I look forward to hearing about other people’s methods.

Here are some links to these pieces of software, for anyone who might want more information;

WriteItNow
Scrivener
Evernote

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One thought on “Organizing My Cluttered Mind Part 1: The Tools

  1. Nice post!

    I use MS Word for pretty much everything that is Manuscript based and some reasearch, like character files etc.

    I also have and use a lot of notebooks. The old paper and ink method for research and jotting vague ideas. I have large A4 notebooks for each of my main projects, so I don’t need to scramble about looking for stuff. There are sketches, plot points, character description etc.

    Then, I collect a lot of books on various subjects as well as using google and wickepedia.

    Personally, I never got on with Scrivener, but that’s just me. I do use OneNote on my Windows phone if out and about to jot notes and ideas.

    I’m a mixed bag really, but a liitle more ‘old school’ I think! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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