Craft Week — How

Hi! Today’s topic is how I write.

I do 99% of my writing on my Macbook Air, Roo (named after E. Lockhart’s Ruby Oliver), which I bought myself as a book-deal present. Before that, I used a cheap little Asus netbook named Hermione. Having a computer that’s portable is super-important to me, especially now that I’m traveling more. But even when I was working full-time, I’d sometimes write on long metro rides or bring my netbook to the office and write for half an hour at Starbucks on my lunch break.

The other 1% is basically brainstorming. I make lists of names or plot points when I’m first developing ideas. I jot down bits of dialogue while I’m on the metro. It’s fun to look through old notebooks later and see these story-seeds sprinkled everywhere.

I know lots of people think Word is the devil, but I love it and *knock on wood* have found the Mac version not-glitchy so far. I’m super-familiar with it, because I’ve written books in it since I was thirteen. I like having the entire manuscript in one file, because I almost always start the day’s work by rereading and editing what I wrote the day before, and because something about the growing heft of it satisfies me. I love being able to use the track changes and comments features when I’m working with critique partners or my editor. And I like changing fonts for each major draft. (So far I’ve used Cambria, Palatino, and now Garamond for STAR CURSED.)

I’ve tried Scrivener, because I’ve heard so many glorious testimonials about how much it rocks, but it hasn’t worked for me. I keep going back to what I know. I do use it for my story bible, which is in sore need of updating. Basically, I have one file with three sections: characters, setting, timeline, and all the details as described in the text regarding each person and place and time, in the hopes that I won’t contradict myself and make continuity errors.

MacFreedom is a godsend. It really is the best $10 I ever spent, and I think it works on both Mac and PC now. This week I have been insanely distracted by all the tweets from BEA. There are weeks where I cannot seem to help checking my email every fifteen seconds despite the fact that I’m not even waiting for any particular news! And it is really, really bad for my writing to switch screens and check Twitter whenever I’m stuck. I need to stay in the stuck place and be uncomfortable and figure it out. Freedom turns off my internet to remove the temptation; I usually set it for an hour at a time. I don’t think it’s coincidence that I am most productive when it’s turned off or very, very late at night when the internet is quiet.

Write or Die is awesome. Rachel Hawkins wrote an explanation here in her JuneSploon post. Basically, I set a word goal — usually 1000 words — and if I stop typing for too long, the program will begin to delete my words! That’s the Kamikaze option. There are other options, but I find this one highly motivational. I use it when I’m drafting a lot, because sometimes being a perfectionist is counter-productive and I just need to stop second-guessing myself and get some words down. Like Rachel says, often these words are the good ones.

In terms of websites I love: Merriam-Webster is fantastic as both thesaurus and telling me the word’s date of origin. OMGThatDress is an awesome tumblr collection of period dresses where you can search by era; I’ve found tons of inspiration there. I also find Sara Zarr and Laini Taylor‘s blogs inspirational because I love the thoughtful, funny way they discuss the ups and downs of a creative life.

What about you? What are the programs and sites and blogs that help you write?

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