Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Favorite Writing Toys . . . Er, I Mean Writing Tools!

You might say I'm an easy hit for innovative software, especially when it comes to my writing.  Recently, I've fallen prey (in a good way) to three items I'd really like to share with you.  You may have heard about them elsewhere, but here's my take on them.

And it isn't that I don't love a moleskin journal, or a tiny leather-covered note pad in my purse along with my favorite pen for jotting quick notes.  It's just that there are so many wonderful, time-saving items out there, and it's tempting to try them out.

My problem is:  I try them out, I love them, and then I want to tell someone else just how great they are!  So, here goes . . .

First up, my first find and the one I've been using the longest, Scrivener.  Scrivener is similar to a word processing program, and it took a long time and lots of consideration to make me believe that it would be better than Microsoft Word, which I've been using for decades now.  Not too long ago, my friend and fellow writer and blogger, Joe Bunting, shared his thoughts on Scrivener.  Joe's overview provides useful information and images I'd provide so I won't be repetitious. Please take time to read Joe's review.

What I will share is that my writing life has become much easier since purchasing Scrivener (by the way, you can get a trial program for 30 days).  I like the way that everything I want at my disposal is right there on Scrivener.  No switching between documents, folders or files -- it's all in one convenient place.  Currently, Scrivener is relatively inexpensive ($45 for Mac, $40 for Windows).  And it comes with a great manual and tutorial.

Second in my lineup of new tools is Evernote.  Evernote replaces all the documents where I saved quotations, the folder in my email for blog items I wanted to go back and read, a stack of paper of things I'd printed out to read.  The beauty of this software is that it captures all those things for me in one place, and it does it all for FREE via my browser!  I refer to it as my online filing cabinet.  A search feature is included and the use of tags makes it easy to categorize things for searching.  I've not yet been disappointed with the software, the tutorials or finding help.  And I love the elephant!

Here are a couple of images showing how Evernote appears on your screen, depending on your operating system and personal setup:

Windows version

Mac version

And for those of you interested, Evernote has a phone app as well.

Third and last is my newest find, Mind42, a web-based mind mapping tool that I'm falling in love with.  Not being artistically inclined, the thought of drawing a mind map has left me feeling awkward and somewhat faulty in my efforts.  And it's free!

For me, the clarity of the design of the mapping in Mind42 was what won me over as I compared a variety of offerings:

Additionally, Mind42 is user friendly and an intuitive program to use.  So far, it hasn't disappointed me.  

I checked out several other free mind mapping softwares, including:

  • FreeMind (I didn't find this user friendly and not well supported);
  • (navigation seemed awkward); and
  • Mindomo (here again the process seemed awkward).
Don't hesitate to check out several as one that doesn't work for one individual may work expertly for another.

I also downloaded and tried out Cayra, but didn't like the way images on the map moved around on the screen as I added nodes to my map.

This has been a long post, one filled with lots of information.   But it's information I truly wanted to share with those of you interested in writing and finding the newest and most helpful digital tools available.

I'd love to hear back from you about what you're using and why you like it or your comments on any of my new toys that you've tried out.

Happy writing!

Disclosure:  I am not an affiliate of any of the companies mentioned herein, nor was I asked by any of them to give a review of their product.  This is purely based on my own experiences and the desire to share them with you.  However, the FTC (yes, part of our government told me I must) requires me to let you know that I'm in no way being paid for anything written here nor do I receive anything if you buy any of the products above.  So long!


  1. Sherrey, This is such an impressive post. I appreciate you sharing these tools and explaining how they work for you. I use Evernote and like it a lot for organizing ideas and documents in one place but now you have me intrigued about Scrivener. Thanks for a great post and links to Joe Bunting's review.

    1. Kathy, I'm not really sure what inspired me to step out of my norm for my blog writing, but I feel I'm getting such a handle on my writing with these three new aids and then your recent social media post and pointing me in the direction of Shirley Showalter's blog where I found more good ideas that I couldn't hold back. (That's a terribly long sentence and would likely garner a low grade on any paper!) What I'm trying to say is that I feel sometimes we need to step out of our memoir writing mode or our spiritual journey mode and share what's working for us. Perhaps I can say that you've inspired me in that regard. :)

      Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words of encouragement.

  2. Sherrey, I totally agree with your statement about stepping out of your norm because memoir writing isn't just about writing anymore. Social media/marketing have become a non-negotiable part of the package so it is very important to keep sharing what we are learning. I feel so honored that you feel I have inspired you. The feeling is mutual. We inspire each other. :-)

    1. Kathy, we finally returned from an emergency trip to Bob's brother's yesterday, having helped our sister-in-law place him in a nursing facility. Not an easy thing, but we all managed well. Anyway, while scrolling through emails, I noticed you had posted here again and I was delighted to read your note. And the reason was that as I caught up in Google Reader I thought of you because you were my "inspiration" to try reading blog posts there. It's a beautiful way to stay on track! Thank you again for "inspiration."


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