General · Social Saturday · Writing

My Go-To Writing Items!

Hey guys,

I thought you guys may be interested in finding out the six things I have to use every day to get some serious writing done. By serious writing, of course I mean any writing. These aren’t overly complicated things, and no I’m not going to be talking about needing a laptop/ computer because that is obvious- I will hover briefly mention my notepad!

So let’s start at the beginning!

  1. Comfy trousers

Comfort is the key! We are living in a world where it is starting to acknowledge that we can be productive from the comfort of our own beds- although I don’t recommend it, once you start associating bed with work it stops being a relaxation area and you can seriously damage your sleep.

However, since the millennial boom businesses and home workers have all found that comfort and productiveness go hand in hand. Gone are the days of sitting at awkward height tables in work approved attire and having to focus in terrible lighting. Well, depends on where you are…

However, from now I presume that you are writing in the comfort of your own home and therefore have no dress code. If you do however have to write outside the home, at the library for instance, simply find comfy clothes that you can be seen in public with (leggings and oversized hoody work wonders and can still be pulled off!).

When I work I need to be able to sit in the clothes I am in for long periods of time, I don’t really want pinching or rubbing because I’m in a restrictive piece of clothing. I want baggy stretchy trousers that move with me.

  1. Pinterest

I need inspiration in my life because the muse doesn’t always like me, okay, she hardly ever likes me. So, to counter this I have set up a few inspiration boards on Pinterest. One with writing prompts and one with image prompts; although they can appear very similar on Pinterest (because they are all image based), prompts attempt to push you in a direction whereas an image prompt merely say ‘ooh look, what do you think this could mean?’

Depending on the project I am working on, depends on where I am looking. When I am working on a larger project (My NaNoWriMo project perhaps…), I create a specific board for it and spend a bit of time finding some inspiration. However, if I decide to work on flash pieces for my blog, I may turn to the prompts or images and set myself a challenge of coming up with several stories.

Either way, Pinterest is one of my most valued inspiration stores and continues to be a vital part of my writing day. Just be careful, it is easy to get sucked in to Pinterest and find hours have passed and you haven’t actually written anything!

  1. My trusty idea goldmine

Remember earlier I mentioned that I would be talking about my notepad, you thought I meant writing my ideas in them didn’t you! Nope, that is not a part of my ‘writing day’ as you will; I do that as and when inspiration hits me.

However, I do pull out my little goldmine of snippets, characters and plot points when I need to push a story forward. When I start writing, sometimes I need to think of another beat or discover that something is missing and I cant make the leap. Maybe I need to add another character, maybe I need to find a unique gift. Either way, flicking through my trusty notepads generally comes up with an answer.

Which is why I will always advise starting and maintaining a writing notepad, keep it with you if you can and when things hit, write them down:

  • Character names (I like creating lists on separate pages; male, female, human, fantastical)
  • Places that are unique or have something you want to work into a story (if you treat it like a scrap book and include a reference photo, even better!)
  • Interesting plot twists
  • Forms of conflict (try finding both internal and external conflict, because at some point you’ll need some!)

Forever hoarding my little nuggets of writing gold.

  1. Scrivner

Scrivner has been my go-to programme for writing since I first won NaNoWriMo in 2015; it has a multitude of features that boost the writing process. I like that I can keep majority of my information on one file and that it automatically backs itself up.

scrivener logo

One of the features I am in love with, is that you can colour code areas or flash cards (when looking at the corkboard setting) so that you can choose the areas of the project you want to work on. I tend to set my novels out where I have chapters in folders with separate cards for scenes. Which means when I only have a little time, I can pick a scene and just write.

This leads on to the other element I really appreciate, the separation of scenes means that I am less likely to read through the work I did yesterday because that will be on another area of the document. Whereas on a Word document (for example), I have to scroll past everything I have done to get to where I want to work on, and if I am working on a scene between scenes previously worked on, I have no choice but to actively read my work to find out where to write the scene.

This wastes precious writing time, especially when you find yourself tempted to start editing because you have spotted mistakes!

  1. Dropbox / Cloud

I have recently become a ‘Dropbox’ user after having my computer basically destroy my work. I needed somewhere quick, portable and free to store and access my work from. So I chose Dropbox, but another growing example would be ‘The Cloud’.

This is where you store your documents on the internet; in a secure and private area of the internet mind. One of the best features is that you can log on to your Dropbox from any device and have access to every document you have saved there.

The current down side to Dropbox is the capacity, it is very limited unless you want to pay for it; therefore I only really keep my active projects in there. At the moment, I have my short stories for my anthology collecting nicely in there, a few flash fiction pieces that I need to edit and my NaNoWriMo project!

  1. External hard-drive

So what happens when I am finished with a project and no longer actively work on it, well I take it off Dropbox and save it to my external hard drive. As the idea of losing (at best) days of work or even (at worst) years, is absolutely terrifying as I know what it is like; I needed somewhere safe to store my works for the long run.

This is especially important when I write my short stories, I never know if/ when a short story will be needed. I can, in essence, create and edit a short story every week; however I only submit a handful to competitions and magazines for publication, and even those I submit may not be accepted.

I refuse to leave it to chance, hoping that my computer never breaks. Having the copy saved to my external hard drive means I can literally pick up all my projects and carry them to another computer.

Tip: Something I have set up, especially when the number of documents started to grown, was an excel spreadsheet with every piece of work on there. Split into two sections, short stories and flash pieces; I included the title, general topic information, word counts, themes, genres. Then, when I see an advert for a competition, the first place I look is here to see if I have a previously worked piece I can polish up and submit. This prevents me from searching through every document in hope that I have one and then giving up and writing another from scratch.

Are my items similar or completely different from yours? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to try out some of your go-to items!

Thanks for stopping by,

Helen x

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