Many a writer takes to Twitter to ask other writers their favorite mediums for writing. We writers all resonate with different methods – typing, handwriting, chiseling, hieroglyphs, whatever. What works for one writer may not work for another, so we love to compare our methods with each other’s.
The choices I make depend on the whims of the muse. Does it want the texture of a pen or of keyboard keys? Are my thoughts coming fast or slow? Did I start this project in Word or on real dead tree paper? All these choices to make the muse happy.
There for a long time, when I first got serious about writing, I often wrote myself into corners when typing, because I could type out garbage sentence after garbage sentence before my brain could muster any intention for the story. I soon realized I had to slow down. In an interview with Tim Ferris, Neil Gaiman talked about much the same thing. That typing allows writers to just put in everything, not forcing them to be choosy about their words the way handwriting does. Writing by hand forces me to slow down, think through what I’m writing as I’m writing it. I choose this method when I’m feeling my way forward on a story. When I don’t know where I’m going just yet, but I’m ready to start getting there.
Pilot G-2 BOLD pens do it for me. I love the way the ink slides glistening onto the paper, with broad, thick strokes. This makes for easier future reading of my spiky handwriting. But I can also wield this kind of pen in a more cavalier fashion than the delicate needs of a fountain pen. This probably has not helped my carpal tunnel.
College ruled notebooks forever. These have narrower lines than wide ruled, as the name implies. I learned in school to bring my letters all the way to the top of the line, so when I must write in wide ruled, a fraction of my ambition dies with every reach for the top of that extra distant line. I hear great things about this whole bullet journal fad, but I struggle to keep my letters on the same row without guiding lines. So, college ruled. My favorite brand: Mead. The pages have an almost extra broad feel to them than your standard 8.5 x 11. It’s roomy, and I like to spread out.
All this is to say, you now know what to buy me for Christmas. Unlike those myths you hear about writers with stacks of unused notebooks and pens, I use mine right up. Thanksssssssss.
I started out with Microsoft Word because that’s what we had on the family computer. Though a true struggle when it comes to more than basic formatting, this program has seen me through over a decade of writing. I dislike the default settings (because all my college papers and all manuscripts are required to be submitted a different way), so when I start a new document, my brain knows it’s time to get down to business when I make the format setting changes. So when I need a kick of familiarity, I take to Microsoft Word.
I also distrust cloud sharing. Like some old fogey. So I keep backups of my files on Word in 3 different computers. Longer projects also live here.
Ah, Google Docs. How I hate its file sorting system but love the ability to edit my documents on any device. I took to using Google Docs because of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign I was writing. I kept getting ideas on the go – while sitting in doctor’s offices, standing in line, sitting at the laundromat. I had little extra time at home for writing, so I would take out my phone and type new ideas straight into the master file. Now I write short projects on Google Docs, again so I can do so from any device, but also because Google Sites does not allow mobile editing.
Which brings me to my next point!
I found Google Sites when I needed a place to post a homebrew Dungeons & Dragons campaign where my players could access the details, all in the same location. Google Sites was both free and simple, preventing me from getting bogged down in the small details of setup (because I will). Downside: I could not make edits on mobile. So oftentimes I would type up descriptions and details on Google Docs and then port them over to the site when I reached a PC.
Now I make a new, private site for collecting all the details of a project into one place. Kind of like Scrivener, but more user friendly. I dig having links to pages specified for each character where I can collect details, backgrounds, pictures, and research links all together. On another page, story outline. On another, notes. Plus, I can upload whatever I’ve written to get the same rush of satisfaction as uploading fanfiction to the internet, privately. Having all the details on one site makes it easy for me to flip around to get the information I need while I write.
What methods do you like to use for writing? Got a program or a trick you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments! I would love to hear from you!
To keep up with future author updates, weekly flash fiction, writing advice, and book reviews, subscribe to my monthly newsletter!