Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Five Top Tools of the Writing Trade by Diana Flegal

A friend of mine was drinking coffee from this mug when I told her I just had to get a picture of it.

Friends of mine would tell you I ought to have one of my own :-)

I thought today I would list a few favorite tools I recommend to aid writers and see what you all had to say about them. If you had tried them or what is helpful to you and your writing. Maybe you have a better idea.

I sit at my desk most days perched on a big blue exercise ball or balance ball. I got this idea from friend and author Loree Lough and bought mine at K-Mart. I even took 'Big Blue' with me to a local writers conference and sat on it while I taught.I think it helps with posture and core strengthening and since I sit at my computer all day- anything that will help is good. Be sure to inflate your ball with the right amount of air to ensure the correct working height.  And refill it when needed.

Then recently, a client of mine, Jeanette Levellie purchased a standing desk. Have you seen these things? Jeanette blogged about her new acquisition and  claims it is saving her time. ?? Stop by and check it out.

Another cool writers tool is the lap desk. Mine has a wooden top with an attached bean bag underbelly. It sits comfortably across my lap and supports my laptop, allowing me to work from my couch when I tire of sitting at my desk. It helps me talk myself into doing a little more work before calling it a day.

By far though, one of the coolest writer tools would have to be Dragon Naturally Speaking by Nuance. You talk- it types. A friend of mine got a new Mac Air. He discovered it had this feature (Dragon Dictate) built right into it and demonstrated it for me. Wow. That ALMOST convinced me to become a Mac owner. Nah... I prefer a computer that is compatible with the rest of the world. (Please Mac owners- no letters or snarky comments. I understand. I own a Honda. :-)

And finally- ambient coffee shop noise has been shown to increase productivity and creativity. Personally, I have found it conducive to caffeine overload. When I listen to the coffee shop noise, I do seem to be more creative- but then like Pavlov's dog, I must have more coffee, then I am creative and then I must have more coffee...and here I sit writing my blog at 1:22 am. Hmm. But I am feeling very creative :-)

What writer tool have you found that is helpful or time-saving for you? I would like to know. Please share.
And happy over the hump day to you!



Karen Nolan Bell said...

My best tool is my timer. It keeps me on task by limiting my time on social media, keeps me from being distracted by other little jobs around the house, and forces me to tough it out until my writing time is over.

Anne Love said...

I think it's actually the stimulants in caffeine that increase productivity--not the ambient noise. :)

Tom Threadgill said...

+1 for your comment on using Macs! I do use a lap desk, put in earphones, switch on Pandora and Coffitivity (very low), and sit in my recliner. It's the only way!

Caroline said...

Loved the cups pic! Want them both. :) Some of the ideas resonate w/me & will work on putting them to practice. These aren't exactly tools, but being my a window w/a wonderful view--but not too distracting--is a life saver on the eyes. And a big desk is a necessity to me! Gotta have it. :)

Linda Glaz said...

Ahh, yes. Caffeine!

Anonymous said...

I am very interested in the Dragon Naturally Speaking that you described. I've been told by our writer's group to tape myself talking and then write it.:)

Lisa M Buske said...

I too love to sit on the exercise ball for the same reason Diana.

Jeanette, I need to look into the "standing desk" as our tall kitchen table tends to serve as this purpose for the very reason you purchased one. If we had more room, that would be the next investment to save for.

I have a lap desk (aka - breakfast-in-bed tray table) I use and my Dad made me an angled foot stool for when I work from the couch or sitting on the deck.

To see pics of the stool, visit my blog:

My greatest tool is my "lists". These keep my attention focused and prioritized. I have it in a medium sized notebook and travel with it so when an idea, event, or "oops" come to mind while out and about, I can add it to the lists.

Great blog Diana, and I'm enjoying reading the thoughts of others too.

Lisa M Buske

Robin Gilbert Luftig said...

I love your list.

Special coffee cup. Check.

Lap table. Check.

Dragon. Check.

But I'd be lost without my online thesaurus. I'm afraid I'd use the same words over and over if I don't have my online crutch.

Great post.

David Stearman said...

Collaborators, Editors, creative friends--anyone to bounce my typically unorthodox ideas off of.

Lisa Lawmaster Hess said...

I love the exercise ball idea! And, like you, I find I get a little more work done thanks to my lap desk! Fun post, Diana!

Linda Bonney Olin said...

I'm a peek-and-poke typist, so I use Dragon Naturally Speaking on my PC (not a Mac) to save time and my arthritic thumbs. It works best for new text, not so convenient for editing.

I have the version that you can train to convert dictation from a digital voice recorder as well as from speaking directly into the headset microphone. That works best if you use the headset microphone to record into the digital voice recorder.

I love my little SONY ICD-SX712 recorder - Nuance (maker of Dragon) rates recorders for compatibility and this model rated high. Got it on Amazon for $128 in 2011. BTW, its "meeting mode" did a champion job of recording the workshops I taught last month at Montrose Christian Writers Conference, when the conference's recording equipment wasn't available.