Tools of the Trade: Editing tools for writers...

Let’s discuss what writers need beyond a pen and paper or that all essential keyboard especially when it comes to making revisions.  The best tools are an exceptional dictionary, a handbook guide to grammar, a thesaurus and/or rhyming dictionary, a set of resources for naming your characters, tool bars and a search engine ready to look up not just information but to confirm quotations and facts, and personally I never leave a desk devoid of a stack of chocolate. The Dictionary Why is it necessary? Today we have spell-check everywhere. Except the more you write the more you realize that spell-check is not a highly functioning tool. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used a relatively obscure word that a spell-checker embedded into major software has not been able to clear and identify. I have these Twilight Zone moments when I race over to an online dictionary like Merriam-Webster.com and console myself that I’ve spelled the obscure word correctly. When I am correct, I’m sure to add the word to the spell-check dictionary by right-clicking on the word in whatever program I’m using to add it in. But imagine if you’re sometimes using a small program like Notepad, or in two or three various email apps or web browsers, or you’re using Word. You’ll never want to stop and take the time to open every single place you have spell-check software to correct it. Not when you’re on a writing deadline. Ain’t nobody got time for that! So get a good dictionary, even if you only go online to Merriam-Webster Online and use it. Merriam-Webster Online is free and if you add it to your bookmarks toolbar, it’s right at your fingertips. Enter the word into the search box and it will...

Writers Journey: Writing is Hard...

There are things you should know as a new writer. There are things you should remind yourself as a working writer. The biggest of these is that writing is just hard work for most people. It’s not as fun as people think it is and once you do two or three paragraphs, it gets harder and harder to keep pulling out material. I once heard a great analogy for writing as a process: Writers, unlike other creatives, first have to make their material from scratch. A potter sits down with a lump of clay for example but a writer has to first make the clay with which to work; clay in the shape of the first words of any rough draft. Then a writer gets to work with those words like a potter works with clay. Making the clay can be boring stuff and very hard work besides. In this respect, writers are stuck with an extra layer of work above and beyond other artists. I would say that only a composer of music has the same experience. The composer must first have a piece of music with which to play his or her instrument. On top of that, nonfiction writing is quite difficult even for creative types. Technical writing is hardest of all; even technical writing about artistic endeavors. To explain the process of craftsmanship takes a certain type of person; one who is a good teacher, really, a good expositor. In art school, for example, some of the best fine artists can’t articulate how they do the most basic things. If asked how they made a certain stroke, they would be hard pressed to put that experience into words. This makes sense because many artists are drawn to a non-verbal medium in...