Writing tech I couldn’t live without

I am not one of those authors who writes on a typewriter. How do you delete?! No, I need tech to keep me organized and to give me the flexibility to jot down ideas or do actual writing on the go.

Here are the apps and gadgets I currently rely on the most for writing:


Logo credit: Evernote

I often get ideas for my stories when I’m riding a subway or walking in the park. I can either keep reciting the idea in my head over and over until it was pounded into my memory, or I can just make a quick note on my phone using Evernote. The app syncs notes across all my devices, so when I get back to my computer at home, it’s right there and ready for me to act upon!


The corkboard view in Scrivener keeps me organized.
The corkboard view in Scrivener keeps me organized. photo Credit: literature & latte

I wrote all of We, The Watched and the first half of Divided We Fall in Microsoft Word. Then I discovered Scrivener and it revolutionized the way I write.

Look, Word is a great app and I still use it for short things like letters and news stories. But novels, which can be 80,000 to 100,000 words, get unwieldy real fast. If you need to refer to some detail earlier in the story, you’ve either got to do a lot of scrolling, or try to remember a specific phrase and search for it in the text. If you realize Chapter 8 should really be Chapter 6, you’ve got to cut and paste (and it’s scary to do a Ctrl+X on an entire chapter), and then renumber all the affected chapters.

Scrivener does all of this for me and I don’t have to panic. It puts each of my chapters and each of my scenes into notecards that I can reorder at will through drag and drop. It all displays a list of everything in a convenient sidebar that I can use to jump around my book at will. And it backs up everything, so if disaster strikes, I can restore my project! I can even take snapshots of scenes I’m about to massively revamp, just in case I change my mind later. Brilliant!

Microsoft Surface 3

Surface 3. I don't use it to research plant cells, though. Credit: Microsoft
Surface 3. I don’t use it to research plant cells, though. photo Credit: Microsoft

This is my latest tool, and I’m already loving it. I needed something light and portable so I could write on the go without feeling like I was carrying a bowling ball in my backpack. I also needed something with a decent battery life. Finally, and this is critical, I didn’t want to pay heaps of money for a Surface Pro 3.

Surface 3, the Atom-based cousin of Surface Pro, meets these requirements handily. It’s a beautifully engineered device that’s perfect for writing at the café. cases. It’s not my main PC, so I didn’t need it to be super powerful. I just needed something with a clear screen and a decent keyboard that runs Scrivener okay. Sold.

My only complaint is that Microsoft totally gets you with the separately sold keyboard and pen. These things are essential to the experience, and you end up paying almost $200 more than you expected. I know, I know, I could have gone Macbook Air, but I’m stuck on Windows.

Oh well, at least it’s kept me writing! Time to finish that novel…

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