Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Writerly Gadgets and Gizmos:


There's an App for that!




It's inevitable. It's unavoidable. No matter what your blog is about you can always find a list of iPod and iPhone apps that are the "best" for you. So I figured, why fight it? People don't carry around notebooks and pens like they used to. There are a few, it's true, but if you ask ten people for a pen, you might have one person hand you one. On the other hand, if you ask to use someone's iPhone, or even just a phone, everyone has one. You use your phone for everything else so why not use it for writing?

Here are a few of my personal favorite Apps perfect for writers.

Notebooks

I love notebooks. It's Notes on steroids. Notes with superpowers! Instead of seeing a full list of all your notes, it breaks your writing into "books." I have a book for church notes, for school, and my creative writing. I've written two school papers entirely on Notebooks. Technically you can sync your Notebooks app with your computer through Bonjour and SyncDocs. However, I have never used this feature because I find it more convenient to email my current note to myself. both email and SyncDocs require internet access so that is not a factor in which feature you make use of. A great feature I personally love is being able to lock specific notes and books. This may seem silly and you may think, why would you want some locked? Personally I don't like having to type in a passcode if I'm in church and going between notebooks and my iPhone bible. However, there are certain things I prefer to lock, like when I was working on something for my brother's wedding, I didn't want him to get a hold of my phone and find it. (Yes, my 22 year old brother still looks through me phone).
The downside? No spell check. Not that big of a deal if you're eventually going to have it somewhere with spell check available. A bit pricey at $5.99, it is a program I recommend reading into before purchasing. Read a Review by appadvice.

My Writing Nook

Who doesn't like the word Nook? One of my personal favorites (along with umbrella). My Writing Nook App is an extension of the website. The only requirement for this App is a google account. Though you can use the actual writing feature without it, you cannot sync it with the website without an account. I actually prefer the cleaner type of My Writing Nook compared to Notebooks, though as far as organizing goes it's not quite as effective. However, it does make it much easier to keep track of current files. My Writing Nook automatically syncs with the web to keep all of your documents current. It also has a built in Dictionary and thesaurus (my cheat spell check when I can't find a word). It's a much simpler program to use for those of us who don't want to take time to learn another. This google powered App is $1.99.

Wikipedia
It's pretty safe to say that writers know full well the amazingness of Wikipedia. This App is Wikipedia in all it's glory. If you try to get on Wikipedia via your bowser, it doesn't always turn out so amazing. I love the Wikipedia App because, well, it's free! who doesn't love free stuff? It's free, easy to use, and familiar. That is the great thing about it, we already know how to use Wikipedia!

Word Twiddle

Confession: I've never actually used this for writing. It's really just fun to me. I love it. It's like a random idea generator. You select what you're looking for ( up to three columns) and it spins out a result. Today I have it on Adjectives, Animals, and Superpowers (my favorite topic). It gave me: tender, manatee, superhuman intelligence. Now that isn't going to work in ANY story I have, but it could be a way to flex your writing muscles. Actually, that would be a rather fun story to write. Now I have it on Adjectives and occupation. It gave me Mundane and Needleworker. Usually the two and three column options don't help much. But if you just need an occupation, or a name, or a pet, it could be very useful. I say could because, like I said, I just use it to entertain myself. You can lock certain words, while spinning the others. You can save the twiddles you like, or just scroll through the library of words. I liken this to flipping open a dictionary and choosing a word, just with fun graphics! This fun App is $.99 (try the lite version for free!)

NameShake

So I love, love, love, LOVE this App! I use it all the time. It's really very similar to word twiddle, but just names. You can select gender, first letter, and origin of the name. You can get one random result, or view a list of names. I use it for both contemporary and speculative writing (usually this means changing the names slightly). Example: For my nanowrimo, I needed I girls name that sounded strange, it is a fantasy book after all. I selected girl, mythological, and let the letter stand free. I got the name Xantho. Awkward name, but I shortened it to Xan, viola! Instant heroine! In fact, I used NameShake to name all my Nanowrimo characters, and I'm very satisfied with all of their names, especially Xan and Raidin! This App, which includes definitions, is $2.99.

These are a few of my favorites, I hope it helps you in your quest to write more efficiently! Don't forget to take advantage of Apps already on your iPhone, like notes and Voice Memos!

Am I missing an App you simply can't live without? Or write without I suppose? Please enlighten me!

Monday, January 4, 2010

There is nothing more discouraging...

Than finding 160 typed pages of a book you know you have to rewrite... BUT my amazing youth pastor said to say no to discouragement! (and drugs)... So I threw my old binder in a deep dark corner of my room. Actually, into a box to take to my NEW room because I just moved out of my parents house! I also found a collection of my writing from 1993 up to 2000, which is actually pretty hilarious to read. One thing I have learned over the years is to never throw old writing away. Not because it could secretly be amazing, but because there may be an idea you had when you were fifteen, that is still a good idea. Just because the writing was bad doesn't mean the idea was. Also, it's good to laugh at yourself sometimes, and old writing is a great way to just have some fun!

Moving right along (hehe, The Muppet Movie). Last post I talked about writing in your "zone". Today, I thought I'd talk about something else I've learned recently. A lot of times we don't use tools we have readily available to us. I don't mean tools like a hammer, or even a dictionary. I'm talking about tools we already have in our brains. No, I'm not crazy! Somethings we take for granted, and kind of deprive our characters of them. Case and point: food. Everyone eats, but many times we don't allow our characters to enjoy a meal.

Food may seem like such a little thing, but it can be used for big things. A sit down meal is a perfect place for a conversation, or to get to know your characters. Last month I embarked on a literary journey to discover the many uses of food in fiction (this is making me hungry!!). This research paper (which I got an A on by the way)is what took up all my Nanowrimo time, but I had fun doing. Actually, it was the most entertaining research paper ever. What other topic allows you to use Green Eggs and Ham as a resource? Anyways, for the full paper: click on the link titled "Interesting School Paper" in the sidebar for all my fun projects last quarter. For just that paper click here

One more thing. Awhile ago I posted here about looking your best even if you aren't going anywhere. On that note, a friend of mine at Bachman's Sparrow took me out to the mall to find the perfect jeans. Click to find the complete Great Denim Adventure (and see my new hair cut!!).
 
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