a blog by J.M. Cottle
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My writing toolbox, take two

Hello, friends! I thought I would take a break from writing for Camp NaNo to tell you about my favorite writing tools. I already did this two years ago, but I’ve got some cool new things to share that have been helping me a lot.

1. FocusWriter

Most important is the word processor I use for my actual writing. FocusWriter is a lot simpler than WriteMonkey, and it happens to have the exact set of features that I want without anything extraneous. It opens faster, it doesn’t require you to memorize keyboard shortcuts, you can have more than one document open at once, the menus hide away until you need them, and, best of all, it’s a very minimal word processor, not a text editor, so you can use italics. Basic formatting is not a fiddly distraction for me – it’s integral to my writing.

2. Scrivener

I never thought I would actually pay for writing software, but it turns out that Scrivener is really useful for keeping track of all the various materials one collects while writing something long – especially when doing research for historical fiction, such as the WWII novel I’m writing with my partner. It’s also really good at outlining, if you’re into that sort of thing (and I am – dear lord, I am obsessed with outlining).

3. Grooveshark

I like to make soundtracks, as if my novels were movies. It’s really helpful for getting into the mood. Grooveshark is excellent for making playlists. It even has all the weird types of music I require.

4. Webster’s New World Dictionary & Thesaurus

So I can’t really link to the actual thing I use, because it’s a desktop program that came on a CD with my monstrous physical dictionary. I can’t carry that thing around all the time, but it’s good to have a dictionary and thesaurus right on my computer, for those times when the word I need is right there, at the tip of my fingers, but I just can’t reach it… If I didn’t have that software, though, I would use Merriam Webster’s website.

5. Lestat’s Café

Being on the night shift, my days off happen to be at night. When everyone else is asleep and everything is closed and there is nothing for me to do except sit quietly in my room and try not to wake anyone up. Fortunately, I discovered this awesome café that’s open 24 hours a day, serves food as well as coffee and tea type drinks, and has sort of 1700s France-inspired décor (of course, since it’s called Lestat’s). This is only helpful if you live in San Diego and you are on the night shift. If you are, let’s hang out sometime, seriously.

Okay, back to writing!

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