07 June 2012

online finds 6/7: 5 organizational tools for writers

5 tools to organize your writing life
(image: "Calendar Series 4" by Maxime Perron Caissy)


The focus for this week's Online Finds is great tools for organizing your writing life. The five resources listed here are all easy to use, and, best of all, free to use. Enjoy!

1/ google

Google Docs provide a great way to keep track of your projects and ideas in a place you can trust not to crash if the rest of your computer fails you! The great thing about Google Docs is that you can sync it across multiple computers, and have access to your files everywhere you go. The other great thing about it is the ability to quickly and easily collaborate with writing peers; whether you’re developing a team strategy or roping friends into helping you edit your new novel, Google Docs makes it easy to get multiple perspectives gathered under one roof. Along with the Document tool, Google also offers Google Calendar. Through Google Calendar you can quickly and easily put together multiple aspects of your life. Whether you need to develop your own writing schedule or keep track of your kids’ summer activities, Google Calendar makes it easy to stay on top of all your obligations.


In a word, Remember the Milk is awesome. It’s a calendar. It’s your to-do list. It’s a fast and easy way to send yourself reminders of upcoming tasks and obligations. And with the ability to synch with your Google Calendar, it’s basically as close to a free personal assistant as a lot of us will ever get!


Where Remember the Milk is awesome, Bubbl.us is just plain fun. Bubbl.us is a free online tool that lets you color code your creative thoughts and processes. Great for brainstorming, charting, and generally organizing your life and ideas, it’s a great tool for any novelists who need to organize the plot, or any writer who wants to organize a book. And if any of you are like me, the fact that it’s color coded is just one more motivational factor to use this great resource.


If you’re a writer who wants to get published, Duotrope is the place to be! It’s a free resource that not only tells you about all the best journals, presses, anthologies, and so forth looking for your work, but also helps you keep track of your submissions with a free online submission tracker. The submission tracker also gives you a general idea of how long the places you submit to take to respond, so when the time comes you know exactly how long to wait before sending an inquiry about your submissions!


This is the only resource you have to download on this list … but it’s totally worth it. Storybook is a free Open Source program that allows you to organize your novel, or any written work. The software includes tools to manage chapters, scenes, characters, locations, and more. If you’re like me, and like to create character profiles before launching into the writing of your novel, Storybook not only lets you do that, but also makes sure you can easily reference those profiles as you write. You can easily create outlines or note pages for each chapter or section of a book and move them around as you need to. It’s a fabulous tool for when you have a big writing project with multiple elements you desperately need to organize and keep in one place.

Check these great resources out, and as always … ENJOY!


*****

Want to stay connected? I invite you to connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. And sign up for free email updates from this blog in the top right corner of the page.

***** 

Check out these other tips for writers on Our Lost Jungle:

28 comments:

  1. Oh, Lordy, I love organisational stuff. Can now avoid house and packing for a couple of hours while I play. Bonus: I can tell my husband it's your fault.

    Thanks, Khara!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blame gladly accepted! Just tell him, "Yes, I'm 'wasting time' now, but think of all the time I'll save later" : -)

      Delete
  2. Great list here, Khara! Hope you are enjoying the summer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Patricia---and you as well. I for one am not enjoying the summer so much as the air conditioning ; -)

      Delete
  3. What a cool list. I've only heard of 1 of these before. I'll be downloading #4 &5 later today. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm still playing with Bubbl.us and Storybook myself, but also having sooo much fun playing with them.

      Delete
  4. i use duotrope and google docs and know of storybook. i'm considering it a victory that i've gotten that far on your list! :) helpful post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most definitely a victory!! : -) Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  5. Am going to check some of these out, thanks Khara. Usually these tools all seem like so much extra work for me. Usually I stick to hand written notes in my Quo Vadis President. But there is def. room for improvement in the organisational facet of my life. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's true, there will never be a replacement for a good old handwritten reminder-- in a binder, on a scrap of paper ... on a used napkin ... : -)

      The nice thing with these is they are, for the most part, pretty user friendly and simple; I think Remember the Milk is the most complicated (and, admittedly, the one I use the least ... ha-ha)

      Delete
  6. I love organizing tools. :-) but I really dislike google docs, at least as it was the last few times I tried it. I am a fast typist, and the regular saving of the document leaves me with skipped letters every so many words!

    I'll have to check out duotrope, though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kirra, Duotrope is amazing! It is a phenomenal tool for keeping track of submissions; it has saved my life more than once!

      Delete
  7. Just wrote a long comment and lost it! Anyway, the gist--these are great suggestions. I love Scrivener; just organized a novel using it (sounds like Storybook is similar). I've used a color-coding system to track characters, just not a gadget. Will play around with some of these, like Remember the Milk. I haven't been using Google docs, either. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard really good things about Scrivener, Gerry. Thanks for sharing! I've also heard Storybook and Scrivener are similar, but I believe Scrivener offers more functionality so it's worth it!!

      Delete
  8. Khara, I appreciate the asides about how one can link with the other. That's beginning to feel like a major challenge. Not so organized if everything's somewhere else than where YOU are, right?!1!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sarah. I love how many platforms are now working together to help synchronize our lives. Sure, we could do the same thing in a good old fashioned notebook ... but doesn't it seem so much cooler to synch your life across computer, mobile device, space, time ... : -)

      Delete
  9. A few here I hadn't heard of before! I'm off to investigate. I need all the organizational help I can get. Thanks for sharing! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks, Khara! I signed up for Duotrope, and it's taken me all of about 3 minutes to love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you signed up, Bonnie! Duotrope really is easy to love.

      Delete
  11. Whee! I just discovered the "reader" button on iPad, and now can actually read the Jungle. (got a weird eye thing, and white on black imprints on my eyeballs like I'm-your-mama)

    Thanks for the round-up. I may have to give Google Docs another, better, look. Just getting started trying to find my poems. Three years worth scattered across several blogs, two computers, and too many ipad apps to bear thought. Then, there are the revisions. Almost (almost) enough to make me wistful over carbon paper and manilla folders.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hooray! Thanks, Barbara. I also have had to hunt down poems (and, in one case, discovered that I had accidentally deleted one--it still hurts), so I love the ability to organize and store them in multiple places.

      Delete
  12. Khara, thanks for this great list! I hadn't heard of a couple of them, and you reminded me that I'd been meaning to give Storybook or Scrivener a try, for the exact reasons you mention.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Elissa. Enjoy checking them out; I'd love to hear what you think regarding the differences/similarities between Storybook and Scrivener

      Delete
  13. Thanks so much for the helpful list. I love Google calendar and anything color coded. Can you explain why Storybook is better than plain old Word? Is it easy to share work done in Storybook or one of the other programs?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Julia, the big difference is that Storybook is very much like a storyboarding program; you can see various scenes side-by-side in one window, rather than having to have multiple windows open (as you might in Word or other word processing programs). So, you might be working on a chapter and have several smaller tabs with your character biographies or charts along the side. You can see screenshots of how the program works here: http://www.novelist.ch/joomla/index.php/en/screenshots

      (As far as sharing work from Storybook with other programs, though, I don't know that you can.)

      Delete
  14. I love duotrope! I get their weekly email, and I often find writing contests through that. Thanks for sharing all the other resources, too!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for your comments! Please feel free to share your thoughts here; I look forward to engaging in conversation with you!

Featured Post

Sankofa: The Power of Known History

I recently took on two challenges in the sphere of political and cultural advocacy: understanding the roots of our democracy and national l...