revisit toolsSeveral years ago, I was working on my second manuscript and I wrote about what tools I used to get the job done. (It was a terrible story that I never did finish, but that’s irrelevant. I did mine secondary characters from it and gave them their own story, so it was useful, at least.)

What did I use then?

Paper. Fancy journal, legal pad, graph paper, steno notebook–whatever makes you feel good.  We’re writers, and if you want to be a smart writer, you will write everything down somewhere.  Might as well make it a central place.  And believe me when I tell you, when that paper is full of your story, of your imagination, your muse at work… you’ll know why you write, if only for a moment.

I’m still a paper fanatic. And I still use a plain old spiral notebook. I write down character sketches, outlines, scene notes–you name it. It nearly always starts on paper before making its way onto the computer.

A binder, preferably one-and-a-half inch, sheet protectors, and a hole punch.

I don’t really use a binder anymore. I’m more likely to keep things in Evernote or, as I’m going to discuss later on, Scrivener.

An All-in-One Printer.  First of all, they’re just not that expensive anymore.

I definitely still use a printer. I print pages multiple times for edits. I just edit better on paper (no surprise there).

So what tool do I use the most now?

Scrivener. Although I still make use of paper, I keep my entire outline in Scrivener. I didn’t for the story I wrote before my current one. I kept them on index cards. Then I got sick and didn’t write for a month. And misplaced my cards. Scariest week of my life, thinking I was going to have to recreate that outline.

I also keep all my research in Scrivener, as you can just drop entire web pages in there and access them from the program.

Further, all those character sketches and pictures of what my characters look like? All in the research binder.

It’s basically my go-to for everything.

What do you use to keep your writing organized or to get more accomplished?

I’m fascinated by other people’s process, so please share in the comments!


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  1. Great post, Lori! I don’t write things on paper first–my handwriting is terrible from disuse! I have tried cards and post-it notes, but I’ve discovered that my tried and true method is to use WriteWayPro for outlining, character sketches, storing research, and writing (of course). Once that first draft is done, I print the whole thing out, stick it in a binder, and read it, editing with a red pen. Then everything goes into Word for edits until the galley, when it gets printed out again. So my basic tools are my laptop, a printer, binder, three hole punch, and red pen. :) And because I write historicals, tons of research books.
    Marin McGinnis | New Blog Series! Victorian FoodMy Profile

  2. Author

    Sometimes, I just feel limited by all that white space on a computer screen but a notebook is my best friend. Makes no sense.

    We’re the same on that paper print-out though. I edit so much better on paper.

    Thanks for commenting!

  3. Author

    I’ve only used One Note once and it is a lot like having a story notebook. I liked being able to create different pages for each note.

    Thanks for commenting!

  4. Gosh, I feel so neanderthalish or maybe inept lol. I use Pages (Apple word processor) And then save everything in folders. If I’m away from my computer, I type things in Notes (another Apple ap).
    My original research when I first started writing and needed to learn a lot about victorian clothes, and aristocracy, and servant,s and food, etc., etc., I used index cards and filled photo boxes.
    Did I mention I never go back and look at those cards now? But I do revisit my files located within my “Research” file on my computer.
    I wish I knew how to use scrivener or any of those things, but I’m so busy right now learning social media stuff and then squeezing in writing, plus my day job and life’s constant emergencies, that there isn’t enough time in the day. For now. Thanks for another thought provoking post!
    Kimberly Keyes

  5. Author

    Thanks for commenting, Kimberly! I used to manage mine the same way, using Word. Each Scene was it’s own file and I titled them by number and then a very short description. It definitely worked for me, but Scrivener lets me see everything in one place and move things around easier.

    If life ever calms down (as if), I learned most of what I know of Scrivener from a free webinar given by Joseph Michael. He gives them periodically. I’m sure the paid course is more in-depth, but the free one was enough for me.

    On another topic, I’m reading Lover’s Leap and loving it! I mentioned it on Heart-Shaped Glasses, a collaborative site I’m a part of.

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