In 2015, I overworked my hands and found typing extremely painful. I could, however, write by hand for hours with little pain. Writing in composition books didn’t motivate me, but when I got a leather journal that felt like it could be out of the story itself, I discovered my own secret — I write my best drafts by hand. A journal means there fewer distractions, no batteries to run down, no worrying about stolen laptops, and very little strain on my eyes or hands. Buying journals created by individuals also helped support people like myself. I have drafted my entire Sentarra series (excluding parts of the original 2011 book) by hand.
Recently, I purchased a journal from LeatherKind, a company that grinds scraps of leather from factory floors, presses it into the new leather-like material, and turns it into journals. My journal came with blotting sheets, which were at first both puzzling and annoying, but have now become my favorite feature. The pages are clear, but the ink won’t leak through, so I’ve been using the blotter pages to diagram maps, jot down ideas for other books, and generally make notes to myself. Beginning a new journal, even in the middle of a story, feels like beginning a brand-new novel and you feel like you’ve accomplished something as you see your progress through the pages.
When it’s time to type out my manuscript, Scrivener is my hero, especially if I have help typing my manuscript or work with the text out of order. Scrivener lets me keep separate documents for each chapter of my story and easily add or move them around. It also integrates with Aeon which is a timeline software that helps me keep track of my trilogy. When I move a chapter in Scrivener, Aeon will move the timeline so the events will match in both software.
Here are my favorite things about this writing software:
- No subscription Buy it once and it is yours. I already pay monthly for apps and software just to keep my business running –often paying more than I earn with the software. I’m grateful for a company that doesn’t demand you pay every month.
- Chapters are exported as one document and can be made into multiple types including EPUB, PDF, WORD and more.
- Files can collect videos, photos, and notes for research
- Binders can be created to see characters and locations at a glance
- Links can be added to any text that will lead anywhere within Scrivener or even to outside sources. Double-checking facts has never been easier.
- Distraction-Free Writing Scrivener doesn’t need the internet to function so you can avoid temptation altogether. It even has a view setting that can be customized for font and color without affecting the real text. So if you want to write with a green background in a yellow text that is large enough for Grandma sitting behind you to read – go ahead. When you leave the viewing screen, your words will still be 12 pt Times New Roman or whatever you set it before you decided to go funky. This focus-view screen also blocks out everything in the Scrivener program, leaving only you and your words.
By the way, if you have Scrivener or plan to purchase it, but feel a little afraid to get started, I’ve written a series of articles to explain how it works and how to use the program. To read them, visit my Quick-Start for Scrivener Page.
But what good is a fine journal if it doesn’t come with an equally good pen? I like ink that flows without effort, shines a moment, and then dulls into permanent words on the page. I have a fountain pen, but finding a matching cartridge has proved a bit of a challenge. Since I rarely buy the same journal from the same place, I’ve run into all sorts of paper but my pen choice rarely varies. I love to use Precise V5 Pens. They come at around a dollar a pen and I go through a lot of them, but they’re worth the price – at least until I get the hang of refilling my own pens. 😉
And that’s it! Pen, Paper, and Scrivner are all I need to produce a great manuscript. Of course, there are bells and whistles that are fun to incorporate when I need to break up my routine. If you’d like to read about them, let me know! November is the perfect time for exploring new software, tips, and tricks to get your manuscript written. What are your favorite tools?
P.S. Speaking of breaking up routine, November begins National Novel Writing Month. I am leading a group at a local library, so I am putting “The Creator” on hold for the month and starting with a new novel so I can write like everyone else. Because of the fast pace of Nanowrimo, I’m also planning on typing this novel straight into Scrivener. Are you planning on participating in Nanowrimo or any of the upcoming challenges on Stage to Page? If you’re interested in writing online with us, check out our Challenge Page for the current projects and join our Challenger Email List to be notified of new challenges and when we are doing live writing sessions together.