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New Year, New Goals: Tools to make your writing life easier

Happy New Year!

A new year is the perfect excuse for a new start. For me, that means trying to tackle all the tasks that were left pending from 2020. As I was preparing my goals, I realized that I rely heavily on a set of tools that truly make my writing life easier. And not just for writing itself. Being an author is about a lot more than writing. Especially today, we must all wear multiple hats including writer, editor, marketing expert, social media manager, sales person, customer service and several more.

Low tech methods work, of course, but there are many software options that can make our life easier, just like typewriters are romantic (and I love pictures of them) but are not the most efficient way to get a book done nowadays. So because our time is limited and because I like to take the easier route whenever possible, I depend on technology whenever possible. I thought I'd share my favorites go-to tools to get stuff done fast and free up my time for actual writing.

Basic Writing Tools

  • Scrivener: I would be lost without Scrivener. Totally and completely. At its most basic Scrivener allows you to write in scenes, organize those as chapters, move them around and create versions, then compile your document in a perfect format to submit. But there's so much more to it. Scrivener has many additional features though. You can set writing goals, you can run statistics, you can use the cork board to see your scene flow. One of my favorites? You can create metadata tags that show up on your descriptive panel. This allows you to customize and track information scene by scene. I've used it for characters and locations, for changes, for timeline checks.... The possibilities are endless. I have an old post that talks more about Scrivener here. Cost: Paid but oh, so worth it.

  • Grammarly Not foolproof but a good check to ensure you didn't miss a comma or a typo. It also gives you marks on engagement and highlights repetitions. Feel free to override suggestions though. Grammarly is designed for clarity, and it doesn't like poetic liberties and sentence fragments which are totally fine in literature. Still very helpful to polish.

Cost: Paid

  • Google Sheets Yes. The free spreadsheets are perfect for character forms, chapter checklists and any other task that requires lists. I create all my edit tracking there as well.

Cost: free with any gmail.

New gmail account: click here.

  • FreeMind/ Drawio Flowchart and mindmap tools useful for outlining visually, creating timelines and plot connections. A virtual alternative to moving cards around. These are free options. Cost: free

Writing Support

  • Critique groups: I'm a member of Inked Voices and I cannot recommend it enough. You can choose a group or create your own. The owners are fabulous and welcome you with a personal touch. I have met some fantastic fellow writers and even though an in-person group is more fun sometimes, they are a lot harder to find. There are other options online as well.

Cost: It's paid but not too expensive.

  • Associations and free webinars/resources: Depending on your genre and audience there might be different ones for you. But with the pandemic, a lot of associations are offering resources virtually and at much more accessible prices. I rely heavily on the SCBWI, and the local chapter in Indiana where I'm the volunteer Technical Coordinator. Check out their offerings here:

Cost: Varies


  • Query Tracker: The most useful way to keep track of your queries, your wishlist agents and your submission. You can group them, f