The hardest part of creating anything is knowing what to release when you are done. What to let go of, peel away, discard, trash – for creators, those are fightin’ words!
As a writer, I can easily believe every, single word that flows onto the page is liquid gold because the process of writing can feel so laborious.
I have a true love/hate relationship with writing – sometimes I have to drag myself to the computer, other times it feels like flying.
But always, it is an emotionally charged, volatile, consuming process. And because I put such a big part of me into it, it feels death defying to even think about doing nothing with something I’ve written.
Even worse, to hit the delete key.
Usually I have to write paragraphs or pages of drivel to get to anything that resembles work I’d consider acceptable, but I’d never get to anything good without writing all the junk.
But what to do with the junk?
Keeping a wadded up ball of tinfoil next to my keyboard reminds me everything I write isn’t gold. It whispers, “Let go, peel away, discard, delete, trash…release.”
When I don’t write often enough, (note to self: that means every day), I tend to horde what I do write and treat it as precious.
When I write voraciously, I am better able to write and release – to birth it into the world and let it go. To help me do that, I rely on some neat tools.
…is Scrivener by a company called Literature and Latte. Where was this little gem when I was doing so much academic writing? If you’re in school, get Scriviner now and never look back.
Scrivener was originally designed to help text-book authors organize their chapters, subjects, themes, and data but it was quickly embraced by fiction writers who needed a system for organizing and quickly retrieving information about all their characters, locations, and dialogue.
Scrivener has a lovely visual component to it as well – you can type things on virtual 3×5 cards and pin them to a virtual cork board then move them all around.
You can add tags so, for instance, you could instantly sift through hundreds of cards looking for every instance of “Cathy” or “Germany.”
As a non-fiction writer, I use Scriviner to capture, organize, and catalog stories, metaphors, quotes, people, references, and chapters. Literature and Latte created a second software any creator will love called Scapple – it’s like mind mapping…but better.
…is a website I love, well no hate, ah you get the picture.
It’s called 750words and it’s a place to regurgitate all the junk that has to come up before the good stuff, or a place where you can exercise that long dormant writing muscle.
The goal is to write 750 words every day. It doesn’t matter what you write, just that you write. If you’re competitive, you can share your writing or join other writers and compare your writing times.
One of my favorite features is the ability to track my writing time so I can see where in my 750 words I worte quickly and were I slowed down. This helps me identify what put me in that coveted and elusive writing “flow” and where I got distracted or bored.
…is Evernote – what a godsend this little app is. It synchs with my iPhone, my iPad and my computer. It works with PCs and other mobile phones and tablets too. And the more I use it the more I can’t live without it.
I get some of my best ideas when I’m away from my computer – out walking the dog, exchanging a curtain rod at Bed, Bath, and Beyond – and I need to put those ideas somewhere fast.
I used to jot them down on scraps of paper or send myself an email. If I was at my computer I tended to open up a word document.
Now they go on an Evernote “note” in a designated “notebook.” I can add tags and can search under any term used on any note. A great tool when I’m standing in the frozen food aisle thinking, “now what kind of ice cream did my family ask for?”
One of my notebooks is called “Blog Post Ideas” and it’s filled with notes that are just a title or the beginning of a thought or even entire paragraphs. The notes save and synch automatically and it makes my life a breeze.
Basically, Evernote organizes my miscellaneous mind.
Now if only I could use it in the shower…
If you write – books, blogs, papers, reports, assignments, scripts – you are a writer. In the comments below, tell me about the tools you use to make your writing time more productive and please share any “tinfoil” tricks you have to stay focused.