As a full-time writer for the past 30 years, I insist on software that works well and allows me to maximize the number of words I produce in a day. Here are the ten tools I use.
Dragon Naturally Speaking
My main desktop computer is an iMac but my laptop is a Windows system because I dictate my content using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Note none of the links are affiliate links
I use this workaround because Dragon software has been discontinued for the Mac, but is maintained on the Windows system.
So I dictate using my iPhone and Voice Recorder Pro ( available for both Mac and Android) and upload to Dropbox. I can download that Dropbox file to my Windows system whenever I do a transcription.
I then use Dragon Naturally Speaking — the transcribe function to take the Dropbox file and turned it into text.
One of the main tools I use is Evernote because it works across all the technology that I use. It syncs from my iMac desktop through to my Windows laptop, iPhones and iPads.
I take advantage of this transferring by uploading my dictated copy into Evernote and when it syncs to the Mac desktop, I copy/paste the copy into the Mac Scrivener system. (Note the newer Mac and Win Scrivener releases no longer sync. The Mac system can read the Win files but not in reverse.)
To answer a question about why I don’t just work on the Win system, it comes down to editing and second drafts that are not voice generated. My word processor (below) and ebook layout software (also below) is Mac based.
As a word processor, Scrivener is designed for writers by writers and it is the best in the business. Its strength is in the editing and organizing of long documents.
And while I use it for articles, it is amazing for writing long works such as books and the organization of those words.
The one thing that I would add is that I do not use 90% of the features of the software and I refuse to let it intimidate me. If you try to understand and use the depth of features right out of the box, you’ll be tempted to stop using it. Use it as a simple word processor and learn to add features as you need them.
I also use Howler timer on my Mac system to keep track of the various exercises and amounts of time that I want to spend on individual projects in my day.
If I spend one hour dictating a story or series of stories, I set the timer. This allows me to set up 2 to 3 one-hour periods in a row and then take a break between them.
I find if I take breaks. I am much more productive than if I tried to ram through three hours of steady dictating and writing.
Pro Writer Aid
Once I have written something, the next step is to run it through Pro Writer Aid. This is a grammar checker that sits on my desktop and that I had the foresight to buy several years ago when it was first introduced as a premium model. It’s one of the best grammar checkers that I have seen.
Publisher rocket is software you use for keyword analysis and discovery.
If you’re intending to write about a specific subject, you can discover the competitive nature of that keyword or topic. There are four things that it will do at this point — and I emphasize this software is under constant development.
The four things include:
*discover which books and authors are competing in that keyword.
*category searches so you can identify and add the appropriate categories to your published e-book
*an AMS keyword search function.
This is one of my key tools for my non-fiction writing and I am a big fan of it.
I have mentioned Dropbox several times in this note. I use it both for a remote drive and transferring files between my various computer systems.
This is a must have for maintaining and backing up files.
Scapple is a free-form software graphics program put out by the Literature and Latte people — the developers of Scrivener. I use it for outlining books or with my current project, which is a multiple character and multiple book series, I use it to keep the stories organized.
Both Scrivener and Scapple are inexpensive compared to the value that they bring to the freelance writer.
Vellum is a Mac based ebook layout and design software that works to produce excellent ebook layouts that are ready-made for updating to all ebook retailers.
I use two graphics programs for all my work. The first is Canva for covers and simple graphics.
The second is the Mac-based Pixelmator which is an “rough” equivalent to Photoshop (but easier to use.)
And that’s it. I try to keep things simple. The discontinuing of Dragon or Mac set me back a bit but the workaround still allows me to be productive. And yes, this note was initially dictated and then edited and transcribed.