Disclosure: I have no relevant financial relationship with Apple, Literature and Latte, Microsoft, or Dropbox. However, I am not against forging such a relationship. Legitimate representatives from these companies, feel free to contact me so we can chat.
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
― Ernest Hemingway
Writers are often asked about their writing work flow. For years, the mythology behind JK Rowling's writing process to create the Harry Potter novels has reached the stuff of legend. She has said she wrote out the initial draft by hand on napkins at a coffee shop. There is a paper spread sheet of her plot chart floating around on the internet. George R. R. Martin recently revealed in an interview that he writes his epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire on a DOS machine using a WordStar 4.0 word processor.
As most writers will tell you, explaining to someone how to write a novel is like explaining how to breathe. As Ernest suggested, writing may seem like an easy task, but it is actually a complex, painstaking, multi-dimensional endeavor...like breathing. While I cannot explain how to take the ideas from the recesses of your mind to lace a series of words that create a story, I can show you the tools I use to write down these words. I also recommend that you read Stephen King's On Writing to learn more about writing as a craft.
“Words create sentences; sentences create paragraphs; sometimes paragraphs quicken and begin to breathe.”
― Stephen King
I write on a MacBook Air 11 inches. I have inappropriate feelings for this machine. It weighs two wonderfully light pounds. It closes down so thin that you can easily jam it in a folder or small daypack. Most airports don't require you to take it out during the TSA check. For such a tiny computer, my MacBook Air is powerful. There is nothing that I have ever needed it to do that it couldn't. I love my MacBook Air because it takes up a tiny space wherever my office happens to be for the day. I can write on our kitchen table or a coffee shop or hotel room. I am actually sad that I will soon part with my MacBook Air in July, when I embark on a walkabout with my family. At that point, I will be using Chris's MacBook Pro. I feel like I am abandoning my computer, but the fact is we need to save space and weight. So we will be sharing one computer between the two of us, and it makes sense to take the one with the larger hard drive even though it is heavier and bigger. I will miss my old friend!
I discovered Scrivener recently and I have to say I love it. I wrote my short story collection The Black Rose and Other Scary Stories That Happened To Me! using this software. I am also writing my next novel on Scrivener. This program, which is a content-generating tool that allows writers to manage and organize large documents, is a bargain for $45. While I continue to us MS Word (see below) for shorter documents such as treatments, I use Scrivener for novels, story collections, and screenplays. The program has templates for novels and scripts. I could not go back to managing large documents without Scrivener. Even simple things, like renumbering your chapters, becomes a much easier task on Scrivener.
I have been using MS Word as a word processor since university. MS Word has the power of a machine gun, but I use it like a water gun. You should read Guy Kawasaki's APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur for a better idea of the killer features that Word has available for writers. I wrote my first novel, The Iris of Issoria, using MS Word. I also write my treatments on MS Word. When I send documents to my editor, I convert them to MS Word format from Scrivener to facilitate tracking changes.
I save all of my documents on Dropbox. This online storage system is useful when you use different devices to work on your project or when you change computers. It is also an easy way to share large documents that may be too large as files to email. I was so glad I used Dropbox when my computer crashed and I thought I had lost all my files. I knew my Dropbox files were safe. I was able to recover my files from the computer crash in the end, but I was still grateful to Dropbox for the peace of mind. Also, you don't need to be online to access your Dropbox folder on your hard drive.
I could not write without any of these tools. Well, I could, but then the process literally would be as Ernest describes....bleeding at a typewriter.
What writing tools can you not live without? Let me know in the comments below.
Be sure to download my Scrivener "guinea-pig", The Black Rose And Other Scary Stories That Really Happened To Me from Amazon. The four scary short stories in this collection are reminiscent of Mexican folktales such as La Llorona and Dancing With A Ghost. Be prepared to be scared.