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The Writing: What tools or apps have radically changed (or enhanced!) your writing practice?

Hi everyone,

I’ve found that part of the interest with writers’ writing processes will land, too, on the ways that we are able to write, revise, and read depending on our technology of the day. So I thought it’d be fun to hear from everyone.

In the spirit of Mercury retrograde next week: What tools or apps have radically changed (or enhanced!) your writing practice?

My own answer below. I’ll be here for 45 minutes!

Image: Lozenge Composition with Yellow, Black, Blue, Red, and Gray, Piet Mondrian. Oil on canvas, 1921. Art Institute of Chicago. A square diamond canvas with bold black lines making a grid across from it from top to bottom. A triangle of yellow on the top left; a square of black underneath it; a smaller red triangle on the bottom left. A lone blue triangle hugs just to right corner of the canvas.

Two quick answers: Simplenote and Scrivener.

When I was first interviewing about my first book, I often talked about how I used to write while I was on the subway during my commute. This was possible because I started writing on my phone, a practice that many people I've met would balk at, but truly "created" time in my day to write, especially when I was working. The only rule: write as you have a thought and don't you dare tell yourself you'll "remember it later." You never will. Write, if you can, at the moment that you are thinking, and don't stop until you are done thinking. The resulting draft you write may be absolutely ugly. But through revision and patience, I turned most of those drafts into the poems that comprised my first collection. Simplenote is a cloud-based notes app that syncs across all my devices. I switched over to it after the Notes app on my phone completely lost a draft I had written. It has synced things very well since I've been using it—there's even a history feature that allows you to see different drafts that have been saved over time.

The second tool, Scrivener, was introduced to me by screenwriters and novelists and generally people who write things that require order. However, I've found it to be a very useful tool in just organizing my myriad notes and transcriptions. I still use InDesign to finalize my book manuscripts (really idiosyncratic to me), but it's so easy to move things around in this app, set chapters, etc, that it's been totally worth the money it initially cost.