a blog by J.M. Cottle
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My writing toolbox

Since I’ve been mostly focused on writing my Camp NaNo novel lately, I haven’t done a blog post for a week. Oh no! This makes me sad. I thought it would be fun to take a few minutes and show you my writing tools before I dive back into the fray.

1. 750 Words

For brainstorming, I head over to 750words.com and let it all out. This site is cool because it’s a daily private journal that gives you badges when you reach certain milestones. Sometimes I rant about my day, but right now it’s almost entirely about my novel. By the way, I am an albatross, but I will be a phoenix again soon! I lost my phoenix badge when I had no internet in Britain. I am way too excited about little pictures on the internet.

2. WriteMonkey

My favorite text editor. I used to write my fiction by hand, and WriteMonkey is the closest I’ve come to recreating this experience on the computer — with a few features I really wish paper included. Wouldn’t it be awesome if notebooks kept track of your word count? I set my WriteMonkey up so that it looks a bit like a typewriter page, with a white background and dark gray Lucida Console text. My favorite features are the word count and progress bar, the sprint timer for word wars, the repository for keeping notes, and the ability to make the program fullscreen or not. The “Monkey says” phrases when the program opens are always fun, too. I rarely touch my word processor or Notepad anymore.

3. Pandora

If you need some writing music, Pandora is a great place to find it. If you give them a song or an artist, they will play similar songs, and you can tailor your station by giving the songs a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. For writing, I turn on my driving dance beats station, Monkeys Typing, or my downtempo world electronica station, Manatees Typing, and just let it play. One cool thing is that since I have a free account, they’ll stop the music after an hour to make sure I’m still listening, and this forces me to take a break for at least a few moments and re-orient myself. Sometimes if I don’t take a break I forget to do things. Small things. Like stretch my legs. Or eat.

4. Irish breakfast tea

I don’t like the taste of coffee, which makes me feel like a heathen in the world of writers (p.s. I love being a heathen), but I do drink tea. Not for the caffeine, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t have any effect on me. I just like tea. Especially Irish breakfast tea in a tin. But any kind of tea will do. Having something to sip while I’m thinking helps me focus, and it also helps me feel all literary. Don’t underestimate the power of feeling literary.

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