Sunday, September 24, 2023

Want to write a book this year? These tools can help

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2020 was not the year I wrote my first book – but that’s the year I started thinking about it. And like a freelance writer, I decided to take advantage of my position and get advice on how to go about doing it from people much more accomplished than I was under the guise of researching this article. . Here is what I managed to learn.

One way to take notes

Apparently, the books don’t fully spring from the ether. You kind of have to work on it, brainstorm different ideas, research, and take notes before you can really get started. News for me, but hey.

Chris Bailey, author of The productivity project and Hyperfocus, and productivity guru all around, is obsessed with taking notes for his books. He has legal notepads hidden in his house, carries a small notepad when he walks around town, and even has a waterproof notepad in his shower. If he cannot devote his thoughts to paper, he uses Simplenote.

Brian McClellan, epic fantasy writer, author of The powder mage series, is a little less over the top on note-taking, but he also prefers the paper approach and carries a notepad with him – or at least tries to do so. Every time he leaves it in his car, he “pulls out” his smartphone and uses any preinstalled notes app.

Both authors emphasized that the tool you use for taking notes doesn’t matter as much as the act of taking it. Notes can be anything from a cool word or magical system idea to transcribed conversations or annotated historical documents. But whatever their form, they will probably be the basis of your book.

Certain (all) types of writing applications

Sadly, neither McClellan nor Bailey have a super secret writing tool that does all the work for them. They do, however, have a few suggested apps to use while you do all the work.

For short works with a single character point of view, McClellan uses Word 2003 – not outside of some sort of George RR Martin adopts like a defunct writing technology, but because that’s what he has. “Writing is the most important thing,” he explained of Zoom. “It’s just a matter of reducing it. It doesn’t matter what you do.

For longer, more complex projects with multiple point of view characters used by McClellan Scribe. He said all of its note-taking, presentation and other book-focused features make it easy to keep its more than 200,000 words in some semblance of order.

Bailey has a different way of breaking his books into manageable chunks. It starts with a concrete outline, then creates a TextEdit file – yes, the TextEdit preinstalled on macOS – for each chapter.

A safe second copy of your work

Technical writers keep saving your work, but it’s even more important if you’re going to spend months or years working on a book. You don’t want a single spilled cup of coffee or a fallen laptop bag to wipe out your unpublished masterpiece.

McClellan saves all his files in Dropbox. And, although Bailey didn’t specifically mention the backup service he uses, I could see the little green check marks next to each text edit file on the screen share indicating that each was stored safely. cloud security. Personally, for all my articles I have my writing app Odysseus sync everything via iCloud.

If you don’t know where to start, we have a great guide here on Wired. Read it and go back.

Something to track your progress

Over the course of a year, writing the first draft of a book is incredibly achievable. At 1,500 words per week (or a few hours of work), you can write a draft of 75,000 words in 50 weeks. Put in a few more hours here and there to edit, and you could really be looking at a rough manuscript by December without having to do something crazy like lock yourself in a cave.


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