One Writer’s Toolchain

by F.

I’m always tuning my writing toolchain, figuring out how to use what I have more productively or adding new tools. Right now, I’ve reached an equilibrium (probably temporary). My toolchchain is pretty standard. It comprises:

1. Circus Ponies Notebook. For my daily diary, random ideas, discovery or exploratory drafts, lines, kickers, leads, keyword lists, list of goals, and the other sorts of stuff that a notebook is for—in other words: notes! I love this app. It’s beautiful and powerful, and I think it’s well worth the money.

2. Moleskins. For pretty much the same stuff as Notebook. I have one of these close to every place I sit in my house, each with a pen or pencil on it. I like a variety of types because it seems to aid memory (“Oh, yeah, I wrote that line down in the big graph paper notebook, not the little reporter’s notebook.”) You’ll be surprised how much good stuff you capture this way.

3. DEVONthink Pro. For storing collected research. It’s just awesome, especially for clipping articles or pieces of them as you read on-line. I have a feeling the next version will really improve the interface. It’s fine now, but I have a feeling the next rev will be a big step up.

4. Scrivener. For writing drafts. I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said here. My relationship with Scrivener got off to a rocky start. We didn’t like each other at first. But it was a misunderstanding and we’ve since then fallen truly, madly, deeply in love. This app is an unfair advantage for writers who use it. Tell your friends about it and point your enemies toward Word on Vista. They’ll never catch up.

5. Nisus Writer Express. For preparing finals. I like the thesaurus feature especially. (Others like Mellel for prepping final manuscripts, though I haven’t used it in earnest.)