Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tools of the Trade, Part 1 of 3

The next time you see a carpenter working you may notice there isn't a single all-in-one wonder tool but rather a wide collection of tools to choose from; and like carpentry, writing has many tools as well. What is in your toolbox? Do you use just one tool? Is that good enough? To illustrate my point, I'll use my own workflow as an example: 
  • Chicken scratch in journals, notebooks, and at 750words.com
  • Sublime Text 2 for "special" formatting and some other crazy stuff
  • Trello to organize ideas
  • Open Office to share chunks of words for critique groups (.doc files)
  • OmmWriter when I need to shut out the world and just write
  • Scrivener to bring it all together
For me, it is a hodgepodge of places where I find time to write: lunch breaks, coffee shops, heavy traffic. A lot of stuff gets scratched into small journals and notepads. The fun comes later when I try to decipher what I wrote.

Over the next 3 blog posts I am going to cover the above list in detail, starting here with the first two:
  1. Pen and paper. As easy as this sounds, it's not. For me, the pen has to be "just right" and the paper nice and thick. I was working through some Bic 537R's and moved on to a couple of Wexford .7mm's, which is a size I prefer. I'm always open to suggestions on finding the right mix here.
  2. Sublime Text 2.  This is a wonderfully simple yet powerful editor. I do a lot of web development programming in my non-fictional world and this is the tool of trade for developing code. You may never have heard of it, or if you have, you may be thinking I'm a nut job for offering this as a writing tool, but hear me out. This does what none of the others do. Multiple Cursor Control. Sublime Text may not be a good fit for every writer, but for those of you looking to work more effectively with plain text that will translate more cleanly to html, it may be just what you were looking for. It's the bee's knees. Check it out:

edit jan31
I wanted to provide several resources for Sublime Text:

       Next week I will cover how I use Open Office and Trello.


  1. Really curious to see how you use Trello. I keep all my ideas in Evernote. How do you make sure you what you've written with pen and paper makes its way into a digital form? I think if I did that I'd lose track of what I wrote on paper.

  2. ooo...I should have covered Evernote as well. Good call. I really only look at Trello from a 10k foot pass; it's really easy to get in the weeds. I mainly talk about how it may help a writers group and do a simple video, much like the above Sublime Text above.

  3. I should say I also use it as a tool to communicate with my editor, which is kinda silly since it's my wife and I could just holler across the house.

  4. I've used about half of the tools mentioned here.

    I lean more towards Google Drive over open office. It keeps my phone, tablet, & computer synced up. Select 'Available offline' and the tablet can edit anywhere.

    I also use dropbox to keep stuff synced up. I have a non-fiction reference document that I maintain as an XML document. I have a script that will sync that document to my personal webserver space, so I can access it in an easily readble 'published' form via an XLST transform into HTML5 web-app as well as a PHP script that re-organizes the materials into alternate structures. It contains links into Evernote for free-form text blocks. Probably gross overkill, but it's a geeky project and it works for me.

    I also carry a little leather travel journal everywhere I go that I pulled the original paper out of and replaced with a set of moleskin pads. I couldn't find exactly what I wanted in 1 piece, so I had to re-make a few bits into that perfect item myself. http://mike.creuzer.com/2010/02/leather-wrapped-travel-journal.html

  5. Thank you for bringing up Google Drive. I use it as well, but probably not as well as I should. Also new to Dropbox. Maybe I need a part 4!
    Curious how your sync script works. Was thinking about doing several blog posts on free website hosting and development for authors and this could play into that nicely. I really dig that leather travel journal. So...Christmas gifts next year?