I’m a sucker for electronic gizmos. You name it, I’ve fooled around with it – for a time, at least. After a while, I get bored and my insert-any-name-you-like-here gets thrown aside along with the garbage. Years ago, when I took company minutes, I had one of those mini recorder thingies that use micro-cassettes, but that didn’t work for too long. Got another one and that stopped working too. I read Tirz’s last post and remembered that I need to get a digital voice recorder. On Monday, I lost a marvelous sentence for the want of writing it down quickly enough. A digital voice recorder should be just the thing, right?
Well, I called around yesterday and got some prices. Jamaican retailers clearly intend for me to keep my cash safely in my purse. Therefore, I’ll pass on this particular gizmo, which means I’ll have to be vigilant about keeping pen and paper in my handbag.
To get back on point, I will admit these toys serve as a sort of distraction. Shopping is good therapy, which also works for me in the creative process. When I wish to avoid writing, I find all kinds of stuff to research, download, and think about buying.
As of yesterday, the new object of my desire is Liquid Story Binder. Corra, one of my writing buddies, had mentioned it while we were doing Nano. I looked at the Black Obelisk Software Site today, and based on the list of features, I think I’ll be dusting off the credit card in another day or so. I like the capabilities, plus it has a Mind-Mapping component, which I like very much. That gives me the ability to plot and write in one place, which I think is pretty cool.
But I’m not here to promote that particular software.
A few years ago, I bought New Novelist, another programme guaranteed to do something or other with my writing. Turns out I wasted $34.00. I filled in some details for a story I was writing at the time and that was it. I didn’t like New Novelist enough to continue using it. When the promotional emails started coming and I asked whether I could buy the upgrade at a discounted price, since I already had one version, I waited in vain for a response. I’m still waiting. A quick glance over there tells me the software is now selling for upwards of $50.00. Good luck with that, I say.
I almost got suckered into buying WhiteSmoke, but eventually stopped the promo emails I’d invited into my mailbox. If I ain’t seeing it, I won’t be tempted to buy it.
I’ve tried a fair number of demo writing software that have been on the market in the last five years or so, but somehow, no matter how nifty the programme, inevitably, I go back to good old Microsoft Word. It provides all the technical assistance I need in terms of finding repeated words, spell-checking (which admittedly, I don’t use often enough), and keeping tabs on my word count. I also like the smart function that determines the reading level of whatever I’ve written. Word also carries a host of other features I hear about from time to time through other writers.
So despite all the hype I’ve seen over the years, I prefer the brainstorm-paper-keyboard method: think intensely about the characters I want to write, jot down the plot points, and start writing. The whole business of sticking information into a form tires me out and once I input the data, I’ll never look at it again, but I think with Liquid Binder, the Mind Mapping aspect will work for me. That said, we’ll talk more about Mind Mapping in my next article.
But I thought it would be interesting to find out what software other writers use. I suspect there are a number of dinosaurs like me, who continue to use Microsoft Word or perhaps Word Perfect exclusively.
Are you faithful to one word processing package, or do you flirt with new products from time to time to keep tabs on what’s out there? And have you found any of these helpful? I’ll give feedback on Liquid Story Binder after I’ve played with it for a bit.
Happy searching, or writing, as the case may be.