The classic stereotype of a writer penning the next great novel in their moleskin notebook is a bit dated, particularly when technology has grown leaps and bounds to help facilitate your writing, whether in the form of editing apps, inspiration tools or time-management programs. Abhorring the modern writing world and all that is available to a writer seems to me to be a bit of status thing, invoking the classic artist martyrology – that if you don’t suffer for your art, it’s not art. Let me tell you: this is 19th Century trope that just. Will. Not. Die. Writers are usually artists but they are also craftspeople in a skilled trade. They have to work really hard to do what they do and they produce thousands of pages before they ever write a paragraph of magic. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying or has a magic genie lamp stashed away somewhere.
Technology is all about making our lives easier and even though it sometimes seems like the easier things get, the more time we waste, I have to say that the following tools for writers seem to be excellent for increasing productivity, efficiency and overall inspiration to get you back to doing what you do best: writing!
- Imagination Prompt is a great tool for someone who just doesn’t know how to get started. Whether you are a serial blogger or are working on a short story for publication, the simple push of the button on this site can really help get the wheels a-turnin’ and the words a-spinnin’. With writers, it is often just a tiny push we need to get past a block and then a cascade of ideas can come tumbling down to us.
- ZenWriter is a downloadable app for PCs that is meant to minimize distractions that can take away from your writing productivity – provided you are doing your writing on a computer, which is likely these days. Journalling might seem romantic but it can be a bit of a time waster as few people will take the time to transcribe what they have written in a notebook into something on the typed page. Additionally, things can look really different when written by the hand and just might not have the same punch when they are put into more conventional printed formats. Either way, something like ZenWriter is good for keeping you focused on your writing and includes therapeutic music and natural scenery in the background to help you relax and get your work done.
- Stayfocusd is a similar idea to ZenWriter, except that it is a Google Chrome app that limits the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites. It is completely customizable and can block entire websites, because who’s kidding? We all have a secret love of Buzzfeed or Distractify or some other evil click-bait webpage that is just so interesting you can’t help yourself. This is how the internet can destroy lives people. Put a timer on it and stop wasting time. Get ‘er done, as we say in Alberta.
- Cliché Finder is helpful if you don’t want to suck as a writer. Cliches might seem like the best thing since Betty White but, trust me, they do worse for your writing than a thousand monkeys on a thousand typewriters. At least the monkeys might show a shred of ingenuity because it is unlikely that they have cultural memes that can penetrate their writing the way clichés can. But enough about monkeys, just use this app to seek out those sneaky stereotypical similes and destroy them.
- Meetup.com is a website that might help you find writing groups in your neighbourhood. Check it out or post there to find like-minded people who are interested in working on their craft as much as you are. It will get you into the habit of writing for your group, editing and proofreading the work of other people, and might even throw in a healthy dose of competitiveness that will get your creative juices flowing. Cliché alert! Should’ve ran that one through number 4! See? Even the most practiced writers fall prey to classic failings now and again. Get on the technology train and get moving.