Sometimes — seems like all the time actually — the hardest things to do end up being the most fun. This past year, I started to really get into writing. This was very hard for me, mainly because I just felt so intimidated by the idea. It didn’t feel like something that you could lightly say you did as a hobby. It’s like that meme that says “ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY WRITE A BOOK!” And, an English major I may be, but that doesn’t make me feel any more prepared to sit down and start typing. I’ve done it before for various classes, but it never felt close to my heart. It was an assignment, not something that I would slave over and genuinely pursue its real-life publication. The idea of being a published author among the sea of aspiring authors seems like one of those things that you imagine happening but don’t think actually will. But…it could…or won’t…or it could.
When The Idea popped into my head, it made me feel simultaneously excited and terrified. To quote the wonderful Emily Henry’s tweet, “the scariest part of writing for me is having a New Idea. You always know there is a chance you’re going to break it.” I most certainly didn’t, still don’t, want to break this idea. I’ve spent the past two months working on it nearly every day. It’s one of those things that you hold so close to your heart that you almost don’t want to tell anyone about it. What if telling someone about it ruins the magic?
So, after a massive amount of courage — and a few mental slaps to my own psyche — I decided that maybe, just maybe: I might tell someone what I want to do.
What do I want to do? I want to be a YA writer. I want to be a part of this crazy, amazing, writing world. I want to take people into the mazes in my head, with these characters that I’ve created, and bring them on the kind of fictional roller coaster ride that I crave every time I crack open a book. I want to have a chance to do every author’s work that I ever obsessed over some serious justice. I am so excited at the thought of all this, and it got me thinking: the best part about admitting this –regardless of the internet format — is it makes me feel like I have the ability to actually do it.
I want to try and make my idea the best end product that it could be. So, I’ve enlisted the help of some other aspiring author friends and the internet to help me. I thought it might be fun if I shared with you some of the tools that I’ve actually found useful! In all honesty, I feel like you really only need a few tools to jumpstart your idea. If you get too caught up in all the things that are supposed to help you write, you’re not going to really ever get much done. Obviously, not everyone is that way, and because that is my own personal mantra, I decided to make two separate lists of helpful tools. One that’s more condensed and includes only the things I’ve been doing, and the other that’s a master list of everything that anyone has suggested I take a look at or try and use. I will try and keep that list updated throughout the entirety of this process. Skim through the links and find what’s helpful for you!
What I’m using:
- Google Docs – this is a great free alternative to anyone who does not already own any kind of Microsoft word program. I recently built my own computer and forgot to budget in for the new Microsoft software. There are other various free knock off tools, but Google docs is the best. You can access it from anywhere, share documents with your friends, and there is even an app for your phone if you want to do some writing on the go.
- Master Outline Template – This is an outline from Better Novel Project. It is SO helpful if you like to really organize your thoughts. The author of this site compares plot elements from Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Twilight to help you construct your perfect story arc. All of the elements of the outline are explained in great detail, and I have found it to be the perfect way to figure out my ideas. I’m not using to a T, because the story I’m trying to tell isn’t necessarily a “Hero’s Journey,” but if your WIP involved a hero at all I think this will be super helpful for you.
- John William’s Playlist -this is something that I thought of myself. I wanted a little background noise that wasn’t lyrical songs. If you didn’t know, John Williams is an amazing composer who has written nearly every epic movie’s theme song. He’s done Star Wars, Indiana Jones, E.T, Harry Potter, and many more. I find it really inspiring to listen to — especially if a really epic or sad song comes on, it’s like it sets the scene for the ideas in my head to just flow.
What was recommended to me:
- Scrivener – this is a computer software that functions as an all inclusive, Microsoft-Word-but-better, tool that was made specifically for aspiring writers. It has a virtual corkboard for all your ideas, helps track your progress, various outlines, grammar, etc. It looks SO helpful and is honestly something that I am very tempted to try and use. The only set back is that it is not free. Sits at about $45 for Mac and Windows computers. Not exactly an expensive software, but you can only use it on the computer that you download it on. As well as taking me back to my initial point, too many tools: leads me to feel overwhelmed and not productive at all.
- Susan Dennard’s “For Writers” – Yet another thing that I will most likely look through once I am a bit farther into my own project. If you didn’t know, before New York Time’s Best Selling Author Susan Dennard was an author herself, she was a writing (consultant? teacher? advisor?) Basically, her website is chalk full of little bits and bobs to help yourself through the writing process. I’ve skimmed through it a few times, but have yet to take full advantage of ALL of the information she has available to look at — for free! In particular, she has tons of resources about the publication process. That, I will be reading in great detail when time comes!
- The Pub(lishing) Crawl’s Critique Partner Connection – if you’re not familiar with this blog already, go check it out! This is one of my favorites, and just recently they did a whole post about aspiring authors needing good critque partners. They have a way you can find your own in the post, and some great advice on the topic as well. I have yet to reach out to anyone looking for a partner just yet, but hopefully, I can take advantage of this great idea once I gain some more courage!
- Noisli – this is an app that’s designed to help you “block out outside noise, get quickly into the zone, increase productivity, and reduce stress!” Basically, it’s individually curated for each user as the best kind of white noise/background noise to help with productivity or relaxation. The app is currently $1.99 in the iTunes/Andriod store, but I believe you can use portions of it for free through their website. This is yet another thing that has been recommended to me – through V.E Schwab’s twitter to be exact – that I want to try and use but haven’t gotten around to just yet. The fact that it isn’t free is most likely the only deterring factor, BUT that’s not to say that I won’t cave soon.
- Cure for Writer’s Block – this was recommended to me by a fellow aspriring author as a great place to go if you need a little something to jog those creative juices! I haven’t really looked at it yet as I’m still in the outlining process but it looks promising!
- Passion Planner – I have seen this little thing all over social media, it’s basically an amazing layout to help those who need some scheduling in their lives. It has a spot for everything, your daily focus, weekly quote, a good thing that happened that day, to-do lists, your appointment calendar, and free space to put whatever else you need in. You can find thousands upon thousands of amazing photos of how people decorate these on Instagram and Tumblr. It’s kind of addicting to look at, and makes me really want one!
The majority of all the things that have been recommended to me I would like to try out eventually! I think in the beginging stages of this process, I’m going to have to stick to what feels plausible for my skill set. Anything fancy feels intimidating, and I suggest if you’re like me and you just now that spending money on lots of tools at one time makes you counterproductive, to just stick to your guns. All the info I listed above is helpful, but at the end of the day all you need is your brain, and some pen and paper.
Was this helpful at all? Should I do more of these? Have you used any of the stuff I mentioned above? Let me know down in the comments or find me on Twitter @nerddelizzie 🙂