Category Archives: resources

Writer Tools

writertools

Here is my compilation of tools to help writers write:

write or die

Write or Die– This online site provides a tool to provoke you to write in ‘freewriting’. Settings include word count, time, but the fun part is consequences. You can choose between spiders, grumpy cat, and a few others. Alarms include alarming and cacophony.

ywriter6mainChapter-by-Chapter is a free program that words with OpenOffice or MS Word to sort documents. I like having my chapters in a single document, and this programs let’s me find/replace but also compile them together into a single manuscript.

Grammarly.com is a browser extension (Chrome, Firefox, or Safari) and provides grammar checking when you type anywhere in the browser. This includes hints to corrections as well so you learn how to write properly. They also have Grammarly for MS Office

Paperrater.com is an online service to check grammar but also includes spelling and plagiarism. Readability statistics, passive voice detection, and more are also included for submission of up to 5 pages for the free version.

visuwordsVisuwords.com works much like a Thesaurus, but visually. This online free service uses a bubble/mind map interface. Type in a word and see what other words pop up.

Word to Pages helps the self-published author find out how many pages their manuscript has based on words, size font, and page size.

OpenOffice.org is free Office suite software compatible with the MS Office suite of programs. It includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, 3D drawing, and database.

Google Drive includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, forms, maps, and even click-and-build web sites. This is a free online service that offers many add-ons to each service such as CloudConvert (to change file formats), auto-bibliography, translate, table of contents, and speech recognition. This is just what I found for the word processor.

Coffitivity.com is a site that provides ambience of a cafe to help you write. I use this myself since music can often distract me when writing certain non-fiction. This is free.

Add in comments your favorite tools to write. I’ll be posting in the future the best books for an author’s library.

 

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Romance, love, and mushy stuff

loveromance01I don’t read romance and I although some of my stories have romance, it is not in the romance genre. That being said, I wanted to share a few resources for those who do, who might appreciate some tips and hacks.

Book Cover Design: Canva.com provides some lovely options for graphics but also layouts for book covers. This is great for ebooks. Printed books demand more attention. I also appreciate the costs ($1 for each graphic), so you can create a cover and use it commercially.

Templates can provide you a guide on creating a cover. This can be fun just creating one for fun. Romance Cover at GlassGiant.com.

Name Generator: Not just for romance, the FakeNameGenerator provides a database of names. This includes nationality, gender, and even age.

Marketing: How to Market Your Romance Novel on Pinterest, Goodreads, and more.

Romance plot: How to plot a romance novel.

Historical romance: Writing Historical Fiction provides tips but also the site provides visitors to look up historical fiction based on the era.

Writing Ecourses: Low Country Online Writing Courses for Romance Writers. Courses cost $20

More Resources: Writing-world.com provides a nice list of resources for romance writers.

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The joy and woe of Morning Pages

IMG_0099I’m once again trying the activity of Morning Pages. Julia Cameron of The Artist’s Way suggests taking some time each morning to write three pages, in long land, to provide clarity, ease anxiety, and clear out the cobwebs.

This is a great idea, except I’m not a morning person. I don’t wake up with anxiety, or thoughts, or anything but morning grumpiness. The last thing I want to do is slog through the process of long hand to write three pages worth of blithering. Three pages can take me quite a bit of time that I could otherwise be writing something I enjoy.

But I’m doing it anyway because I want to improve my handwriting and hope to find some insight, clarity, or, (dare I dream?), realization of myself.

Tips to morning pages:

Pick a journal with pages that fit your size. Currently I’m using a large spiral notebook but realized on Day 2 of morning pages that this is a bit too much to try to write three pages each and every morning. I would suggest a small notebook with lines that fit the time and effort you will put into your pages.

Pick a quality pen. For me, I prefer the chunkier size pens to fit my hand better, but the quality of ink is also important. My choice is the Bic four-color ink pen. The ink flows well, and the size feels good.  Sometimes I switch to another color for a change of pace. You may prefer a gel pen, erasable pen, or just a lovely pen to use for your morning pages.

This is my pen of choice with four different inks to choose from and a thick barrel. You can find various colors, but this one has black, blue, red, and green.

A fountain pen= I never used one of these types of pen, but they are pretty. You can get very expensive (over $200) to this more affordable model.
Erasable gel pens. I’ve considered this type, in case of mistakes. Gel pens can make pages sticky, but they come in so many colors that are bright/clear.
LED Night writing pens. I love this idea- a light for your pen so you can write in a dark room!

Make Morning Pages a ritual. This can include making a cup of coffee or tea, lighting a candle or incense, even saying a little prayer (to  your writer’s muse) for inspiration.

Integrate the Freewriting or Pomodoro techniques. Freewriting is writing for 10-15 minutes without stopping. This includes no corrections, no formatting, and no grammar/punctuation concerns. You just write nonstop.

Pomodoro technique is using a timer of 25 minute increments with 5 minute breaks between to get things done.

Adjust accordingly. I don’t believe in things being ‘one-size-fits-all’. This means if Morning Pages becomes too grueling, it’s okay to stop. Remember the goal- clarity, insight, and for me, improving my longhand. If your goals are not being met, it is okay to adjust the activity or even stop. Do only one page, write for time instead of the number of pages, or find another medium of writing/

What do you think: Have you tried morning pages? Do you think you will try it? Post in comments below.

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My experiment with Morning Pages

morningpagesThis past week, I’ve explored an exercise called Morning Pages. Julia Cameron of The Artist’s Way explains writing three pages, each morning, in longhand, is a great way to clarify your thoughts and remove ‘cloud thinking’ Sort of like quieting the ‘monkey mind’ in Zazen meditation.

I figured I’d give it a try. I got an old notebook, my favorite pen, and first thing when I got up, after coffee, and ready to start my day, I’d write those pages.

This is what I learned:

Three pages is too much. Two was a bit much for me. Writing in longhand is arduous for me. It hurts. My hand cramps. My handwriting is barely legible. The simple act of writing isn’t so simple for me, which is why I prefer to type. I forced myself to do write two pages instead. Even that felt like I was working through molasses. My monkey mind wanted to be free, and struggled the entire time.

Consider the size and type notebook. I used a composition notebook, which meant almost full 8×10 page, so a Moleskin diary provides smaller pages. Spiral notebooks provide a choice in size as well as writing on flat page.

I complained a lot. Because I didn’t enjoy the entire process, my ‘thoughts’ often centered on how I hated my handwriting, or that I had nothing much to write because my brain barely functions when I first get up.

Three pages took a block of time I could be doing something I enjoyed. While I struggled through this exercise, I wasn’t working on the number of things I wanted to get done (and would enjoy more doing).

On the other hand, I want to share my own advice on this process;

Don’t feel you have to do mornings. Select the time before you’re going to get started on writing to help clear the junk in your head. Since I write in the evenings, I’d write/type after dinner and before I started writing.

Keep a list of prompts to get you started. These can include anything from fiction prompts, to prompts that provoke insight into the inner workings of you mind.

Freewriting for 10-15 minutes instead. Freewriting does the same thing Morning Pages promises- to help with clarity. It can also jump start creativity. It focuses more on the nonsensical and unrestricted ideas in your head. In other words, freewriting is supposed to be a brain dump.

Go in with a better attitude. I fully admit I didn’t have the right mindset for it to work. Even if I started complaining/whining, switch to more pro-active thinking, and move on. Unhappy with the strain of thought? Scratch it out and start again. No one will read it.

Have you tried Morning Pages? Do you need to find clarity to sort out thoughts to write? What are your experiences in freewriting? Please comment and let me know your thoughts.

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