So what’s your tool of choice?

Forty-two weeks after the second day of the new year

As she has told you she would do in her post last week, Author has spent the last few days taking care of those last bits that still bothered her in the manuscript of her next book for you, those that did not allow her to reach the “Yes, that’s it” feeling she is looking for. And while she did this, she also went through the entire document, chapter by chapter, clearing it. By clearing she means that she worked with all tracked changes, highlights and comments visible, everything she has done in the manuscript in its editing and reviews, and she removed these, leaving a clean, untracked, unmarked, uncommented text. No formatting yet, other than what she is used to working with for her own comfort, the layout she originally started with when she first opened this document: her preferred alignment, font and font size, indents and spacing. Nothing that conforms to either of her chosen publication formats, only the layout that is most convenient for her whenever she works on a document.

And she did it all in Word. She worked on the same Word document she has been working on from the beginning, the one she wrote the story in, edited in and ran the initial reviews in. When Author works in Word there’s a certain focus in her, a focus that comes easily, kicks in with little effort. She has worked with Word long before she became a writer, and is so familiar with it that when she writes in it, she doesn’t need to give attention to anything but the thoughts in her mind that she is putting into words. She automatically works with all the software’s commands, and so her focus is where it needs to be.

In her post twenty-four weeks after the second day of the new year, Author spoke about the need to adapt to the use of new tools as you find yourself having to prepare your manuscript for publication, turn it into an ebook and perhaps also a print book if that’s what you choose to do. But you should also have one main tool that will accompany you from the beginning to the end, that you will use throughout your entire work process. The bulk of the work, the creative steps that entail in them prolonged durations of deep thought and concentration on the story and the way it is written, requires you to work in a medium that won’t take you away from those thought and concentration, from what your story needs. This should be a software you are completely familiar with, so that you won’t need to think about technicalities, waste time looking through help files or online resources for the meaning of commands and functions instead of focusing on your story.

For Author that main tool has been Word. Of course, you know by now that there are other tools that she uses. You know that she uses Indesign to prepare her finished manuscripts for publication as paperbacks, and she’s shared with you that, unlike with her previous two books, with her next book for you she has decided to expand her use of Indesign to the in-depth review, that “Okay, I need to focus now. Everybody go away!” step, because by now she feels more comfortable, more familiar with this software and wanted to use its print book layout she felt was most efficient for her purpose. As for her ebooks, she uses Word to prepare their layouts, but her recent quick read of her next book for you was done in the Amazon Kindle Previewer. In both cases, the in-depth review and the ebook quick read, she chose to use not her regularly used software—Word—but other tools because she wanted specific things from these two steps. But still, the basic tool that accompanies her entire work process is Word. It is the one software she uses throughout it, and the Word document with her manuscript in it is updated to the very end, so that once Author’s work process is completed it holds the final version of the manuscript that she can always return to.

Author does wonder, though, if that might change as she becomes increasingly familiar, increasingly comfortable with Indesign, which certainly seems to be the case. The day might come when she would write the very first word in a new story in it, not in Word. That Indesign will be where her path from thought to publication begins and ends. It’s possible, experience changes how Author does things and her preferences change as her work process develops, and as what she needs from the tools she uses evolves.

Author and Sister’s tip for you this week, especially for the new writers among you: try to choose a software you’re completely familiar with to write in. A software you’re comfortable working with, in which most of your work will be done. If that software isn’t suited for the very last stages of your work, preparing your chosen publication formats, then at some point you will find yourself working with other tools, that’s unavoidable. But you need that one tool, that one software that will accompany you from beginning to end, and that will eventually hold the final version of your manuscript. With time, experience might change what software you work with, and the place each tool (or tools) you choose takes in your work process, but when you’re a new writer, you shouldn’t have to struggle with the use of the tool you’re using for your creative process or jump from tool to tool as you complete each step in your work. Your mind should be on your story and on yourself as its writer.


2 Replies to “So what’s your tool of choice?”

  1. Good post. I have been surprised at how many authors still write their books longhand. But maybe that’s because it’s the “tool” they feel most comfortable with. Also- please think about submitting a post to Readers Review Room for the “blog “post” feature on the website.

    • Hi Jena,
      I think it’s important that a writer use the most comfortable tool for her or him. The thing about writing longhand is, that at some point the writer has no choice but to transfer it all to some software. Also, longhand makes the editing and several reviews on the way to completing a book more difficult, and the writer runs the risk of missing something. That’s what I like about Word, I can make endless changes and be able to track each and every change backward at any time, assess and reassess and make decisions at each and every point in my writing and not miss anything. InDesign allows that too.
      Also, I confess I can’t read my own handwriting 🙂

      And sure I’ll be happy to submit a post to Readers Review Room for the ‘blog post’ feature. Thanks for suggesting it.

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