On technology and writing

I’ve recently changed computers, and I’ve had to reinstall quite a lot of programmes, which made me think about what I actually use. So I thought you guys might appreciate a quick run-down of what I use to write…

Laptop-wise, I’ve currently got a Lenovo ThinkPad T420 (older make & model because I like the keyboards). I was using an HP, but I think my hatred of that stemmed from Windows 8…*swears profusely at it* and it was also very laggy. Before the HP, I had a Toshiba (which I loved until it overheated as that model tended to do) and then a Lenovo…so back to my favourites, I guess!

I write in Word. I prefer MS Office, mostly because I’m used to the formatting options. However, I highly recommend OpenOffice – I really appreciate the fact that the files transfer between the two so easily, although it does make a mess of my formatting occasionally. I know LibreOffice also comes recommended, although I’ve never used it myself.

When it comes to actually writing, I use the headings and document map in Word to plot things out, and that seems to work. I don’t use Scriviner, although I know it comes highly recommended by many of my writing friends. I think I’m lucky as I have shorter books, so I don’t have as much to remember – I can imagine that chapter- and scene-plotting in a 150,000 word book would be a little different to my 30,000 word ones!

When I’m out and about, I tend to use Google Drive as I have my email on there anyway, so it means I can write on the go without having to install anything. I like that it’s browser-based, although I admit that I am careful about what I write on it…Google does have a nasty habit of snooping. I also have to be careful what I work on as I then have to remember to transfer it – that’s something I need to sort out!

A good timeline software is Aeon Timeline – again, I don’t use it, but many friends do. I personally have an Excel spreadsheet with names, note and scribbles on timelines and characters. On a slight detour, I was recently asked by @O_T_Curtis for some character sheets just so he could use them as filler. My response was a not-very-helpful “Uh…I don’t use them :-/” as most of my characters are in my head! My spreadsheets have name, trade and rank if needed, place of origin and any notes I need (usually “DEAD”). Beyond that, I know who they all are. However, I did manage to scribble him some notes and send ’em across, so I think that helped. What can I say, I’m a weird writer…

Back to writing! In web news, this blog is a WordPress one with a custom theme, and is hosted by the awesome Sirnet, who also helps fix things when I break my theme (which happens far more than I want to admit for a former web designer).

Beyond that, I don’t use a lot of other tools. Twitter (@writingandcoe) is my writer’s communicator and I use Facebook to keep in touch with my publisher, Grimbold Books. I do sporadically use AuthorRise for promo stuff but I haven’t found it very useful, mostly because it refuses to recognise Green Sky & Sparks and because it isn’t a very user-friendly site for actually doing things on. I’m also on the SFW Forums as part of the Swindon FreeWriters.

And that’s it!