Tools of the Trade

I am always keenly interested in other authors’ discussions about what they use for writing, whether pen and paper, typewriter, or computer. If computer, then I’m curious about what software they like to use.

Writing itself is probably the most important aspect and quite a few writers seem to like basic, no-frills, no distraction writing software. I’ve used LibreOffice Writer for quite a few years but have to admit that it has several features that I find annoying. For example, the text box that pops up to tell you what page you’re on as you’re scrolling. It’s annoying because it covers my text. The word suggestions, too, can be helpful but also distracting. They can also lend themselves to mistakes. Then there’s the hidden metadata which transfers with the text I’ve copied and pasted into Scribus. That’s handy for remembering formatting, but if I want to create a different formatting scheme, it’s a nuisance.

For a complex work, a way to keep everything organized is nice. This kind of software is often developed to accommodate writers of novels and plays, which I don’t write. Much of my writing is based on research, so this is what I need to organize.

So what are my preferred tools of the trade?

For research and organization I like Zim.

zim_screenshotZim is a graphical text editor which functions like a desktop wiki. I can create notebooks for various writing projects, pages for my main categories, and subpages as well. I can hyperlink these to one another, or to external resources such as a file on my computer or a webpage. I can even add images. One neat feature is being able to create checkbox lists. Very handy.

For writing, gedit.

gedit_screenshotgedit is a simple, open source, Gnome based text editor – no frills, no distractions, no metadata. It comes with just the few tools I need – spell checker and word counter. It also has a “sort” plugin for alphabetizing a list. Perfect for creating indexes.

For notes, reminders, and to-do lists I use Notes.

Notes_screenshotIt’s just a little plugin that came as part of Xfce Goodies, additional software and artwork for the Xfce desktop. It’s clean and simple and easy to use. Like Zim, I can create a group for each writing project. I can create tabs for lists and reminders.

Three simple tools to keep me organized and on track. It doesn’t get any better than that.

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