Every writer struggles with the actual writing part, one way or another. Especially when writing is just one of the long list of things that you have to do. A day job, caretaking, social obligations, and household chores are just a few interrupters of our precious writing time. But there are a few tools out there that can help you to plan your writing life.
These are just five tools to help you on your way to a finished novel, with each one helping you in a different step of your writing process. All of these are free with an option to take a premium subscription to gain access to more functionalities.
Plan your writing
I like NaNoWriMo because it forces me to write and aim for a target every day, but it gets harder after a while. I feel drained if I have to write every day without a break and NaNo doesn’t calculate those in its schedule.
Pacemaker.press is able to do just that, and so much more. It creates a schedule to fit your needs, for any length of time, for any unit you can think of. Use it to plan your writing, editing, reading, studying and even training in words, pages, minutes, blog posts, and many more options. If you know what works best for you, you can adjust your strategy to fit your work style.
I’m using one of my works in progress as an example. I’ve already written some of it and I set the deadline for my first draft on December 31st. I will start writing the rest of the draft starting June, taking the rest of this month to finish the draft for my short story collection. The total word count I’m aiming for is 90.000 words, but I could’ve gone for chapters, pages, or hours of writing. I added a few days off, but the beauty of Pacemaker is that it adjusts the schedule to your daily progress. If you decide to take one day off at the beginning or don’t make your word count, it will automatically recalculate. If you know that during the holidays and birthdays you don’t want to write, you can mark those specific days off or lower the word count as well.
One of the biggest pros of Pacemaker.press is that you can export your writing schedule and add it to your calendar of choice. You still have to go to the site to update the work you did, but you can check your daily target without going.
With a free account, you can create up to two plans. If you want to create a new one, you will have to delete another. The premium sub is $8 per month or $72 a year and gives you access to unlimited plans, more graphical options, private plans and full access to challenges.
Plan your day
Edo Agenda is new and I’m running the beta version right now. It combines your agenda, to-do list and journaling in one app. The idea reminded me of a digital version of a bullet journal, something that I tried to do, but was too much of a hassle. Maybe the digital version will stick.
I like that it’s an agenda, to-do list and it has space for notes. I won’t use it as a journal since I write in my paper journal daily, but my brain farts need to live somewhere.
Combine Edo Agenda with Pacemaker.press and you have a powerful tool to keep your writing in check.
Plan your project
The misconception of writing a book is that writing is all you need to do. As a self-published writer, the list of post-production tasks is even longer since you have to do the marketing, production and selling yourself.
Asana is an app that helps you to finish each project. Keep track of all the tasks you have to do in which periods. Set deadlines and get reminders when they’re drawing near.
I connected Asana to my Google Calendar so all tasks with a deadline will appear in there as well.
Another popular tool is Trello, which uses boards to plan out your project. While they work nearly the same, I prefer Asana’s look and feel. Asana has the option to create a board, like Trello, or a list, which I prefer. It’s nice to have both options.
Plan your world
When I first saw Notebook.ai, I knew this was what I needed for my fantasy world. I’ve been working on a story bible (more of a world bible) that encompasses everything I will write and have written on it.
Notebook.ai has one large pitfall. It seduces you to spend more time worldbuilding than writing. There are stories that don’t need as much worldbuilding and a free account, with access to characters, locations and items, is more than enough.
For my fantasy world, the premium subscription ($9 a month) is better suited, with additional access to creatures, races, religions, groups, magic and language. It’s a complete package if you want to create every aspect of your world. It’s not just for writers, but Dungeon Masters, game designers and other creatives can benefit from using it as well.
Why use Notebook.ai when you have another word processor?
What attracted me to Notebook.ai was the ease of use. It has a template ready for everything and asks questions to add more depth to the world your creating. It’s one big database that ties everything together. If you still want to turn this notebook in a book or your own database, it’s easily exported as a text file or Excel files.
Plan your outline
If you plan on using a paperless office, SuperNoteCard is the perfect tool for you. SuperNoteCard is an easy way to plan your story. Create scenes on a card and shuffle them around until your outline is complete. Tag your cards with characters, location and categories to keep everything organised.
When the outline is done, export the cards (and categories and references if you need those as well) to a Google Docs or Word document. It’s possible to write an entire novel using these cards since I can use the same method that I used for The Shadow Court.
Once you have everything planned, there’s just one thing left to do. Write!
What do you think of these tools? Will you use them or do you prefer other methods or apps? Share your favourite writing and planning tools in the comments below.