My writing favorites

Stationery store in Japan; many rows of pens for sale

Photo via Visualhunt.

I thought it would be fun to list my favorites when it comes to writing. These may not be the best by other people’s standards, nor even MY favorites overall, but they’re the ones I like or gravitate toward when it comes to writing (vs drawing, etc.).

My favorite:

Pen

My current favorite is the Pilot Frixion ball knock retractable gel pen in size 0.5 mm. Mine were purchased in Japan, not on Amazon, but the link should take you to the same thing. I love the bright colors and the smooth flow of the ink—and the best part? They erase! There is a plastic nub on the end that produces friction, and the heat from the friction erases the ink. So, you get the permanence of a ball point pen but with the edibility of a pencil. No smudging! I use these for writing in my journal as well as editing my work.

Pencil

I don’t actually have a favorite pencil at the moment, but I tend to prefer mechanical pencils for writing since they don’t need resharpening. A couple of clicks and I can write with a sharp point every time.

Eraser

Hands down, Mono erasers are the best erasers ever (they’re even cheaper if you buy the ten pack). I will never willingly use those awful pink rectangles that are standard in American schools ever again. The Monos erase cleanly and thoroughly without damaging your paper—even thin paper.

Notebook

Anything pretty that lays open enough to write. No spiral please. A ribbon to mark my place or a loop to hold my pen are bonuses.

App to write/type in

Plain, no frills TextEdit (like Notepad or WordPad, but for Mac, since I don’t use a PC). Once I’m done with my rough draft and the first round of major edits, I put the entire thing into Microsoft Word and format it to publishing standards. I don’t like all the bells and whistles of Word distracting me while I write, so I keep it as simple as possible at the beginning.

Word counter

Since I use TextEdit for writing, which doesn’t have a built-in word counter like Word does, I like to copy/paste my text into WordCounter.net. It does more than just count the number of words or characters used. It can also count the number of sentences or paragraphs you have, as well as the approximate time it would take to read the work silently or aloud. It also calculates the approximate reading level and keeps track of your keyword density, which means it shows you how many times you’ve used certain words or phrases. This comes in handy when you realize you have a bad habit of overusing words like “suddenly” or “he looked at her.” The site also lets you set goals for yourself or track your writing activity, to help you get your projects done. Pretty handy for a free tool!

Character naming site

I talked about this in my last post about naming your characters, but I like to use BabyNames.com and BabyNameWizard.com.

Music

None! That is, while I’m writing. I am easily distracted by noise, so it’s very difficult for me to write unless it’s quiet. I can do it (such as in a coffee shop or with my kids playing nearby with noisy toys), but I don’t produce my best work that way.

Place to write

In a quiet room, in a comfy chair. Our home is too small to have a dedicated desk for me, so I use my laptop on the couch for now. I’m in the process of seeking the perfect overstuffed armchair to claim as “my spot” in the living room. The place I plan to put it is by a corner window, since I love to look at trees to destress.

Motivator

I’ve participated in almost every NaNoWriMo since I read about it in a newspaper in 2002. Even if I don’t “win” or complete the story after “winning,” it is a great motivator to get writing! Plus it’s hard to find another group of writers so excited to work on their craft outside of professional writing conferences, and NaNoWriMo is free. Another good motivator to write is to have a writer’s group or friends who write, to keep each other accountable. My current writing group is comprised mostly of those who attended a local NaNoWriMo write-in last November. We just kept meeting even after it was over, and it’s been great fun, as well as a great motivator to keep plugging away at my current novel. Before I had a writing group I relied heavily on Critique Circle.

Writing blog

My favorite blog to read about the craft of writing is Gail Carson Levine’s blog. It’s targeted toward readers of Middle Grade fantasy (since that’s who she writes her books for) who like to write their own stories, but I’ve noticed in the comment section that I’m not the only adult there. I’ve found that a lot of writing blogs are very technical or focus on the process of preparing for publishing. But Gail’s blog not only answers the technical part of readers’ questions about writing, but it also dips its toes in a bit of whimsy while doing so, making her posts fun to read as well as educational. Sometimes I’ll read the question and think I already know the answer, but Gail always has a fresh take on it that I hadn’t considered.

Agent blog

It is well worth the dive into the archives of Miss Snark’s now defunct blog, as there are loads of advice that are timeless in there. But my favorite agent blog that is active is Janet Reid’s blog, where she answers questions from those seeking representation about the process of gaining an agent and about the publishing industry. She seeks clients in the mystery/crime/thriller categories, but her advice applies even to those who write outside of those categories. The comment section is extremely active and friendly, which is always a bonus.

Authors

My favorite authors to read are—in no particular order—Gail Carson Levine (MG fantasy), Robin McKinley (YA and adult fantasy), Sherwood Smith (YA and adult high fantasy), and Shannon Hale (YA fantasy). I love a good fantasy romance, which all of these women do excellently, particularly if it’s spun from a fairy tale. A runner-up would be Janette Rallison, whom I’ve only learned about recently through her Fair Godmother series. She writes mostly contemporary YA romances, which are fun and light hearted.

Who are your favorite authors? Your favorites to any of the above? I love good stationery, so if you have some recommendations I’d be happy to hear them!