FRIDAY FUN: Writer Tools We Love

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: Do you use a software program, a specific type of notebook, a pen, a chair, some sort of tool that you feel is essential for your writing life? 

headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: This question is a perennial favorite, and looking back through the archives, I saw that my most recent answer (way back in 2010) was a thesaurus. While that handy tome is still always close to hand, and I have a particular affection for my growing collection of uni-ball rollerball pens (they now come in an array of sophisticated, “infused” ink colors!), I’m going to pick a more conceptual kind of tool for this go-round: mind mapping.

A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of being the guest on a mind mapping podcast, The Mind Mapping Show. In the episode, I talked about how I use mind mapping in my business and personal life, my penchant for mixing it up  (pen and paper vs. software), and how mind mapping helps simplify almost any process (including writing). The interview is a bit dated (I definitely need to do a new post about mind maps), but I hope you might enjoy it anyway.

I have also written about mind mapping – what it is and how to do it – here on Live to Write – Write to Live, so you can check that out as well, if you like. 🙂

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson: I collect rollerball pens and love the feel of them in my hand. With these pens, I prefer them to be heavy. But my go-to item on a consistent basis is a purple pen. Nothing fancy, just cheapy pens I’ve purchased from Staples or gotten from Planet Fitness. I used to favor blue ink, but now I can’t imagine writing in anything other than purple. Sometimes it’s amusing to think about things like this. And now I’m remembering those pens with multiple colors – blue always ran out, and red was quick to follow. Now I either use disposable pens (purple) or monogrammed pens (the rollerballs). I realize I don’t have much of a middle ground at the moment!

wendy-shotWendy Thomas: I was supposed to go to that Scrivener workshop this weekend and I was all prepared to learn about it and start using it in my writing. Can’t go, instead I’m buying the Dummy book and will be reading that and watching tutorials. You can bet I’m going to be having a lunch with Julie (who is attending) to pick her brain about the software sometime after this weekend.

Other than that, as far as software goes, I’m a Microsoft Word kind-of-girl, nothing fancy, just a place where I can type and format. Oh and I have to have a keyboard, none of this tablet typing for me.

As far as supporting tools, I *live* for very nice gel pens, they can be black or blue (red when I’m correcting papers) but they have to be gel. I’ve found that ball point pens create too much drag and if I write too long with them, my hand and wrist get tired (I know, weird – I blame carpal tunnel and Lyme Disease.)

I also love my notebooks, wouldn’t go anywhere without them – favorite include Moleskin and Clairefontaine  (I was even able to pick one of those up when I was in Paris, le sigh.)

Julie Hennrikus: This week I wrote about Scrivener, which in one of my favorite tools. But some of my favorites are old school. Notebooks. A nice pen. But the tool I can’t live without? Notecards. Plain old notecards. That’s where I start the plotting magic. Once I’m done with that part of my writing process (which takes a long time), I move the cards into Scrivener.

14 thoughts on “FRIDAY FUN: Writer Tools We Love

  1. I am a new writer and all of these tips are so helpful! Thank you. I have to have a legal size hard backed three hole punched note pad to write on and I prefer either jell pens in blue or very sharp Ticonderoga pencils, no cheap pencils have to be the good ones!

  2. I must say, from my experience so far, that my ‘can’t do without’ writing tool has to be Microsoft word. I am hand writing my first book at the moment and then typing it up on word. I am finding that I am changing what I have written along the way. Good old Microsoft! Thanks for the post. Mark

  3. For the last twenty or more years I have used TextAloud ( This is the best text-to-speech software I have found. I use it to self-edit. I write in both English and Spanish, and the Spanish voice has a really good accent. I never write by hand. My handwriting deteriorated to complete eligibility at least 30 years ago.

  4. Over the years, I have learned that it is important to be disciplined in such a way that as a writer, you can write anywhere. To be present to your inspiration. Meaning, if I am not near my writing studio I can write on a piece of scrap paper or make a note in my phone. Honoring the Muse in the moment of inspiration!
    But, I would say my favorite writing is done in the stillness and quiet of morning at my laptop. (And the essential writing tool-a cup of coffee by my side!)

  5. Thanks fo sharing. I’ve written my whole life in some form or other. Used to be with a fountain pen and notebook. Today it’s a gel pen – and I totaly relate to the comment re the purple pen, it my current favourite too! MS word for when I’m ready to get stuff typed up.

  6. My favorite tool is the table saw. A little difficult to write with, but noise, sawdust and cutting things in to smaller bits. How can that be wrong? 🙂

  7. I used Microsoft Word extensively. But thinking and typing don’t go together for me; I recently bought a Lenovo tab. I use a stylus to write using the app Stylus Beta. Fun.

  8. While I do much of my writing on Microsoft Word, I do not go anywhere without 2 sharpened Ticonderoga pencils and my notebook. I buy one notebook and write everything in it; meeting notes, ideas, doodles, scraps of music, pictures, everything.

  9. I used to have a favorite pen a rollerball gel thingie–black only because blue is too frivolous, even for me!–but then someone ‘borrowed’ it, so now I use whatever pen I can find that still has ink. I used to use legal pads when I was teaching, but now any old paper will do, esp. if I get an idea as I wake up tooo early or whatever. I swore by MS Word for eons, but can’t afford upgrades. Now I use Apache Open Office 4 which is free and uses all the tools and formatting of Word. For reasons known only to God, with Open Office running I am not haunted by writers’ block, as was the case with Word. My point is, use whatever you have–Lincoln scribbled the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope, so…

  10. I just have to feel something so intensely that I have to get it out. No particular software, pen, formula. I just have to be alone and feel like I’m dying to share whatever it is. Thanks for allowing me to share.

  11. Blank notebooks, a sharp pencil, index cards, a good fine blue ball point pen, my computer, word and scrivener for big projects. A girl doesn’t need much 😉

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