Sunday, January 5, 2014

Covet a Writing Tool

Hey Everyone! I'm back from vacation and not a moment too soon. Chapter 1 of RoboNomics drops tomorrow (technically tonight) and I am extremely excited for you to read it! Yay!
In the meantime, I am thinking about something that I really shouldn't be, considering I am still coming down from Christmas gluttony and greed. I am thinking about a present to myself. For surviving the holidays perhaps? Sure.
Present to Myself
Okay, so it's not so much a present to myself as it is a work-related efficiency tool. I know I am going to be a complete and utter hypocrite here, in that I've asserted before that being a professional writer does not require much expensive equipment. Dollar-store notebooks, cheap but reliable pens, and either a cheap basic laptop or a membership card to a library system that includes free computer access (we're lucky in this country. Pretty much every major Canadian city I've visited and some not-so-major cities offer this service). Pretty much that's it. For five bucks or less you could get your writing career started since your most important resource is between your ears.
There are a few other tools, if you have the dough, that can make the entire process more streamlined and efficient. If you read this blog regularly you are probably familiar with some of the tools that I favor. There are tools for capturing ideas: Bath crayons for ideas that come to you in the shower, notebook/tablet in the nightstand for inspired dreams, digital recorder or shucks just your smartphone if you have one for sound recordings of ideas while driving.
There are tools for drafting: more notebooks! Or software made specifically to cancel out distractions such as Omm Writer. Or, you know, your modem's off button.
There are tools for compiling and editing drafts: Dedicated software like Scrivener that can convert digital text into widely accepted manuscript format. Or as I've shared here before, colored post-it notes for recording and coding scenes, and colored pens when editing for specific foibles.
But there is one aspect of the process that occurs for me at every step. That is, the converting of my handwriting into digital text. Up until now all of my notes, character sketches, setting details, random ideas and plot points -- if they made it from the nascent stage to the manuscript -- would have to be transcribed by me from page to screen. No longer!

I recently discovered these lovely things called digital pens! Basically the idea is that you take this pen with a sensor and real ink and write to your heart's content (okay, up to about 200 pages. But who's going to do that in one sitting?) and then you plug it all into your computer and press a button and voila! Digital text! Yay!

Apparently there are differences in models. Some have to use special paper whereas others (better ones, I think) can be used with any notebook you like. The only problem is that they are expensive. In the $100 to $200 plus range. But just think about it. The way I work, this little digital toy could cut my work load by at least a third. So I'm definitely dreaming about it.

What about you? Have you found a similar problem with audio clips? I don't usually record my ideas via audio devices mainly because I can't stand listening to my own voice recorded. But I'm curious -- it is very difficult to convert voice recordings to text? I'm thinking yes -- but if they have software for that it would be very exciting that they finally figured that out. Perhaps Siri is a clue: after all, she can listen to your voice and then do an internet search. Although she is not exactly very accurate...