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Entries in workflowy (1)


Q&A, Part II: Online resources essential to the working writer

Nick Fox asks:

Q&A time: Are there any other websites/online resources you consider essential to being a working writer?

Depends how easily distracted a working writer is! For instance, I went just now to my Google Reader replacement, The Old Reader, to see which of the writerly blogs I follow I wanted to mention here, and I saw that Rock, Paper, Shotgun posted a review of a PC version of Space Hulk, which is a board game that seems to have a rabid following and one I suspect I might like...

Damn it. You see? For the easily distracted working writer, the best online resources are probably those that prevent said writer from accessing websites at all: something like Freedom (a Mac app) that prevents you from accessing the internet during a time you specify (there's almost certainly a Windows equivalent). Personally, to train myself to focus more I've been using the Pomodoro Technique I learned about from Ryan Casey's blogfree if you use a timer that's already on your iPod, cell phone, computer, kitchen stove, sundial, etc.

If this working writer is still undeterred, determined to gain inspiration and swears it's not procrastination, I'd say that the Wall Street Journal of the publishing industry today is The Passive Voice. It is biased somewhat toward the self-publishing movement, but once you read a few entries you'll have a hard time finding fault with his logic. It's through The Passive Voice that I discovered many of my other favorite blogs: TERRIBLEMINDSDean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch... It's a compulsively readable rabbit hole, my friend. I've learned a lot, but I can't tell you with a straight face that any of that time wouldn't have been better spent just writing. I think the authors of all those blogs would agree.

As for online resources, I will recommend this without reservation: Workflowy. It's a web-based to-do list that you can format any way you like and access from any computer with internet access. I use this to get track of everythingstory ideas, web project ideas, rough onlines, idea dumps, freewriting, websites/books I want to check out, even chores (the most-neglected category). It's replaced the tired old notebooks I used to carry with me everywhere. God help me if the site ever goes down...

A writing/organization program I frequently use but wouldn't yet swear by is Scrivener. If you're already someone who will spend too much time planning when you ought to be just diving in, Scrivener will not sing to your better angels. It is made for planning. But it has a lot of great featuresthe ability to rearrange your ideas and chapters on the fly and output the final product in any format you can imagine (docx, pdf, epub, etc.), a character name generator, an easy place to throw all your random research and notes, etc. etc. The website has a trial version so it's worth checking out if your interest is piqued! 

I'm sure I'm forgetting things. Any other websites/online resources I should have listed, intrepid readers?