New Wave’s Top 5 Tools for Writers

What would a blog be without a periodic listicle? With that question in mind, I present to you New Wave Editing’s Top 5 Tools for Writers, curated by a so-called expert: me.

1. Lenovo ThinkPad Chromebook

If you are looking for an inexpensive laptop that you can dedicate solely to writing, I cannot recommend this baby enough. I have long thought that the ThinkPad’s keyboard is the most conducive to long stretches of writing, as the action gives a satisfying bounce and tap that adds to the experience. Add to that the attractive price tag of under $400 and you’ve got yourself a delightful workhorse of a writing companion.

The only downside to the Chromebook is its dependence on an Internet connection, which might prove distracting for social media addicts. The way I have managed this is to have one laptop (my sturdy 2014 MacBook Pro) that is used for work projects, general Internet surfing, and whatever else I need to do online. The ThinkPad is only for writing, and the Internet connection allows me to sync my documents to Google. That is the only Internet usage I will allow myself on this machine.

It also helps to keep the machines in different places, say on the other side of the table from your main machine, or in a completely different room. This helps to compartmentalize the two activities so that you are literally stepping into another mindset when you enter your writing space.

2. Writer: The Internet Typewriter

Writer from BigHugeLabs is a browser-based distraction-free text editor that autosaves your documents so that you can return to them every time you load up the page. If you upgrade to the Pro version ($5/month, $25/year, or $50/lifetime), you have access to automatically sync documents to DropBox, Google Drive, or other cloud storage options. You also gain the ability to export your documents as ebooks and to restore them to previous versions with revision history. And you get access to writing statistics that tell you when you are most productive and how much you write in each session.

I’m currently using the free version and simply copying and pasting the things I want to keep into Google Drive, but I can see myself purchasing the Pro version as long as Writer remains as invaluable to my process as it is now. I find it useful to have one of these distraction-free programs in the early stages of drafting my work, and this one comes with some pretty great features.

3. Grammarly

Grammarly is a browser extension that inserts itself into any field where you have entered text and tells you about all the mistakes you’ve made. It’s kind of like an irritating mansplainer except it has no gender and you’ve actually asked for its input. Create a free account to compile your personal dictionary and receive weekly personal writing statistics.

4. Noisli

If you’re like me, you’re an introvert. If you’re even more like me, you’re an outgoing introvert who is passively energized by other people. Sort of like a secret vampire. This means that I do my best work in cafés filled with ambient noise and opportunities for eavesdropping that pull me out of writing ruts and get me tapping my fingers on the keyboard.

Enter Noisli. If you’re unable to spend time in cafés, or don’t want to drop a couple bucks on coffee every time you need to soak up this energy like the daywalking creature of darkness you are, you can use Noisli, a website that allows you to mix and match various ambient sounds to create your own perfect atmosphere (who doesn’t want to sit in a night café next to an active railroad while ocean waves crash against the shore?)

This might seem like some bizarre post-human substitute for actually leaving the house, but it has worked well for me during times when I worked from home and needed periodic writing breaks, and it works well now while I’m living on a mesa in the desert and sometimes need to feel surrounded by the buzz of humanity in order to get anything done.

5. An excellent pen

When you need to step away from technology and get your thoughts down on actual paper, nothing beats the sweet satisfaction of a pen that writes beautifully and feels good in your hand. I use a handmade pen that my father got me from a craftsman in San Francisco. It helped that he had several pens on display that I could test out to see which one would work best for me. I’m more than happy to drop some dollars every now and then to buy the Parker gel refills it requires. It is now the only pen I will use when I write on paper.

Well, there you have it! Top tips from a so-called expert. These are just a few of the things I use to get in the zone (dude!) and increase my productivity. Feel free to get in touch with your own list of favorites.

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