Last year saw me complete and edit no less than two manuscripts. That’s good, but it’s not enough to get me writing full-time. So this year, I’m even more ambitious. In 2017, I want to publish not one, but five books. Yes, I know, my sphincter tightened saying it too.
Given I am a mum to a toddler and I work full-time, it’s
ambitious, utterly mindfudgingly insane. But YOLO bitches, if I don’t start publishing a lot of books soon I’ll spend another year watching my glorious dream disappear in a vat of sludgey self-loathing and word-turds. I’d rather cut out my left ovary and eat it than go another year without publishing (and that is saying something I have been a vegetarian for 28 years).
BUT, publishing five books in one year is not going to be easy. Over the past six months, I’ve been building up a set of resources to help me be super efficient. Besides, everyone knows I love to share my process, and what better way, than being totally transparent with all the tools I use.
So here is my list of 6 recommended tools to help you be as productive and efficient as you can in 2017.TOOL 1 – GRAMMARLY
Grammarly is an online proofreading tool that checks for grammar, punctuation, and style, and features a contextual spelling checker and plagiarism detector.
I had the free version of Grammarly forever. It’s not a secret my grammar is abysmal, my work generally suffers from comm-postroph-itis – a plague that infects my commas and apostrophes and either multiplies them to wrong places using its best mitosis impression or deletes them from the right places in a fantastic rendition of phagocytosis. I can’t win.
Grammarly is like a little box of editorial heroin. It integrates seamlessly with my entire laptop and fixes all the bad shit. By that, I mean, once installed it checks my emails, my Facebook statuses, any messages or tweets I send, it’s even checking this blog post as I type (and sure, it might still miss things, and it get VERY pissy when I make words up, but that aside, it is awesome sauce).
TOOL 2 – ONE NOTE
Everybody raves about Evernote. But I missed the boat. I’m sure it’s amazing, but I never mastered it, and I don’t think at this late stage I’m going to either. Not only that, I resent paying a subscription to store my thoughts and notes on multiple devices.
One of my goals this year was to find a better note taking system. I mean, yeah sure, I could use a pen and paper, and I’m even partial to the occasional Post-it note. But I’m also an occasional sufferer of extreme senile moments and I lose shit, including my glasses, although they’re usually on top of my head. But there are definitely post it fairies in my house.
I wanted a system I could take with me anywhere, would sink automatically across all my devices, integrate photos, draw unicorns in it by hand, write lists have tick boxes and different sections and folders for different projects.
One note does all of this, and it also does something else really exciting. It allows you to share notebooks. So I
forced encouraged the bloggers committee to store meeting notes and actions in it.
TOOL 3 – JOAN DEMPSEY’S Free Video Course
I’ve taken this course myself and it really made me think about my own writing. The free video training helps you determine once and for all if your writing is really any good. So you can stop torturing yourself and tearing out chunks of hair because you don’t know whether the hours of bleeding words is all just a big fat fucking wasting of time. Joan will help you focus on making sure your writing is as good as it can be.
Video One: Gain Fresh Perspective about why you worry that your writing isn’t any good, so you can easily overcome your concerns and focus on what matters most: making your writing the best it can possibly be.
Video Two: Distance Yourself so you can accept yourself as the writer you truly are (and not the writer you fancy yourself to be), and then do what you’re meant to do: take your writing to the next level!
Video Three: Use Simple Tools to advance your skills as a writer. Determine which tools have worked best for you in the past, and identify new ones that will elevate your writing skills even further.
Find the course here.
TOOL 4 – TRELLO
Trello is an organisational tool sent from the very gods of organisation themselves. I use this tool with Allie Potts my writing accountability partner. Together we share a board, we have tasks, to-do lists, checklists, completed things gold sticker stars for when we’ve been good girls and sarky comments and boards of eternal doom and punishment for failure!
The point of Trello is to keep us both focused, with three clear, stretching but achievable writing-related goals for each month. Open accountability because we can each see each others progress throughout the month.
It updates instantaneously, so there’s no hiding. But the best thing for me is ticking something off my checklist because it actually crosses out the task. Is there anything more satisfying than seeing an action crossed out? Don’t fink so!
TOOL 5 – DRAGON DICTATION
I mentioned this the other week, and eventually, I intend to give it it’s own post. But for those that missed the other post, I listened to a lot of podcasts talking about how good Dragon Dictation is. And I wasn’t convinced. I mean, who can actually write 5000 words an hour? That’s the equivalent of being able to parkour up the Empire State, one handed in a tutu singing ‘We Will Rock You in Swahili). Sure some idiot might be able to do it, but your average Joe can’t. But these authors were publishing 22 books a year. Clearly, they knew something I didn’t.
I tried speech notes, (a free online tool), it’s not overly responsive, nor is it fantastic with accuracy, but it was good enough to show me the potential dictation had.
It doubled my daily output in the first session. I went from an average of 1000 words a day, to an average of over 2500 words. That might not seem much but add it up over a week and it sure as shitsickles makes a difference.
Normal avg: 7000 per week
Speech notes: 17500 per week (and that wasn’t even using dragon)
With a little help from Santa, I invested in Dragon Dictation and on my first attempt I went from 2500 words per session to 4500.
INSERT SACHA F.R.E.A.K.O.U.T
Oh, the potential, suddenly that list of 30 book ideas doesn’t feel like a lifetime’s work.
I’ve set a goal to reach an average of – 3500 words per hour by the end of 2017.
TOOL 6 – WRITING BOOKS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT
How to Market Your Book by Joanna Penn – a good intro to marketing for any author who is in this for the long game. Maybe not for long term indies. But I found it super useful and learnt loads from it.
The Emotion Thesaurus & The Positive & Negative Trait Thesauri by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
The Emotion Thesaurus took my writing to the next level. It helped me to show not tell characters emotions, insert better subtext, and develop better action too.
The Positive and Negative Trait thesauri help me to create more depth in my characters, matching or opposing traits and giving me a wealth of information about how that would make the characters behave or feel or react.
Structuring Your Novel and Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland
I’m including both the full versions and the workbook versions in the links below, but I have recently read the workbooks. Another one of my goals this year is to write better quality first drafts, which means I need a little more structure and planning than I am comfortable with. The full-length books I found a bit too detailed and daunting, but the workbooks were actually, to my surprise, awesome. They gave just enough detail, and more to the point asked the right grey matter poking questions to get me thinking about my own books.
What tools would you recommend for writers to maximise productivity this year? Let me know in the comments.
Did you know the Bloggers Bash is running a blogger competition? Want to win a basket of blogger goodies? Check out the competition here.