My Favorite Writing Software

Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

I’ve been writing fiction and non-fiction for over twenty years and in that time I’ve used many different types of software, much of it user-unfriendly and in some cases user-hostile.

My writing processes depend upon a few go-to computer programs. It would difficult to work if I didn’t have these programs. Herein is my favorite software programs. Some are on my laptop and iPad, others are web-based. Two of the programs, MindNode and OmniOutliner, are Mac only, but there are similar programs for other types of operating systems

Mind-mapping: I’m a planner. I plan almost everything for a new book and even any half-complicated project. My plannng always starts with a mind-map. Currently, my favorite mind-mapping program is Mind Node 5. I carry planning via mnd-maps to extreme lengths. I even mind-map my novels before I start to write the first draft. I refer to these finished mind-maps as my graphical synopses.

I have a half-dozen mind-mapping programs on my laptop and iPad, but MindNode syncs beautifully and instantly while the others don’t. These others may sync eventually, but it usually involves some sort of intervention on my part, a definite disadvantage.

Here is a mind-map I made for this article before I started to write it.

Another mind-map feature I love is the ability to export the MindNode file to an OPML document (although most mind-maps will do this). I can open the OPML file in an outliner and I then have the skeleton of the piece I intend to write. I find this use of linking mind-mapping and outlining programs to be a great time and work saver.

You can find out more about MindNode at: https://mindnode.com

Outliiner: OmniOutliner is the progam referred to the in MindNode description. This article was written in OmniOutliner initated from the mind-map. Here is what the artilce looked like when I first opened the OPML file.

As you can see, I rearranged the topics slightly. Once that was done, I started writing this article. OmniOutliner can be used without the mind-mapping linkage and it is a very flexible and useful program. I also use it to construct slide decks (after the mind-map is completed).

OmniOutliner also syncs so I can open a file on either my laptop or iPad.

Here is a link to the website: https://www.omnigroup.com/omnioutliner

Writing Program: What can I say? How many writers swear by Scrivener? Many, many, many including me. I write all my books, fiction and non-fiction in Scrivener. I also use Scrivener as a container or collector for short writings. So, I have a Scrivener just for my short stories. Instead of use the word ‘chapter’, I use “Fantasy” and “Sci-fi”. The “scenes’ in each ‘chapter’ are complete short stories. In the sidebar, I list the publishing history of each story. I have another Scrivener dedicated to articles I have written. In this one, the “chapters” are “fiction writing”, “humor” and “publishing”. Each “scene” is a complete article. A third dedcated Scrivener is for my Faux News Network satiric blog posts. Go here for more information on Scrivener :https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener/overview

Webpages: Padlet is a website that allows creativity to run rampant. You start with a blank web page and add boxes to it. Each box can contain text, images, links, audio tracks, video clips, downloadable pdf files, drawings and more. The boxes can be rearraged into grids or columns or scattered about. The can be connected with arrows. I’ve created a number of padlets (as they’re called). Some of them describe my books in more detail than I can use on book seller sites. You can check out my padlets at this webpage: https://padlet.com/hanque

Integrated software: Coda is a recent addition to my writing tools. It’s a new class of software that allows you to have multiple types of pages or documents under a single header. I have 7 current projects in Coda. Some are projects to control new books, others detail marketing campaigns or meetings under construction. Each project has text files, spreadsheets, images, to-do lists, expense charts,a Gantt chart and other material all under a single heading. Previoulsy, all these would be separate files on my laptop and would have to be opened individually.

Coda has replaced Trello and Airtable for myt o-do lists and spreadsheets. While both programs are more robust, Coda is in it’s infancy and will gain robustness over time. You can visit the Coda website here: https://coda.io/welcome

In conclusion: While I still use a word processor, spreadsheet, a notebook and other programs, their use has declined as Coda and the other programs listed here take over.

I realize that the software programs we all use are a personal choice based on what works best for each of us.

I offer my list of favorite programs with the knowledge they won’t work for everyone, but perhaps they’ll benefit some others.

Do you have a favorite software program not listed here? Tell us about it.