Tuesday, June 09, 2020

3 Best Productivity Apps to Write Faster

By Laurence MacNaughton, @LMacNaughton

Part of The Writer's Life Series

JH: Getting more done in less time is something pretty much everyone wants to do these days (and not just writers). Laurence MacNaughton shares three apps that can help you achieve that goal.

When New York Times best-selling author David Weber suffered a terrible accident and broke his wrist into 57 pieces, it might have ended his writing career forever. But instead, he adapted by using software that ended up helping him write faster than ever before.

How is this possible?

Sometimes, changing how you do things can make you more productive than you ever dreamed. There’s a lesson in there for all of us.

Probably every writer alive wants to be faster and more prolific. The sooner you can finish your book, the better. If you want to be a professional writer (or heck, even if you just want to finish your novel this year), you need the right tools for the job.

Here are three free or low-cost productivity apps that can help you write faster and finish sooner.

1. Dragon NaturallySpeaking

When David Weber first told me about speech recognition software, I was initially skeptical. This was a few years back, before all of our devices started becoming voice activated.

It's one thing if you have Alexa in your living room. But what about using speech recognition software for writing a novel?

Dictating your fiction isn't a new concept. Back in the era of typewriters, some of the most prolific authors dictated their stories. Erle Stanley Gardner, the creator of Perry Mason, wrote more than a million words a year, and nearly 100 novels in his lifetime. He dictated to a team of secretaries who jotted down his prose in shorthand, and then typed it up for him. He also sometimes used a Dictaphone, which was an analog voice recorder the size of a suitcase.

These days, you get to be like Erle Stanley Gardner without having to hire an army of secretaries to keep up with you. Dragon NaturallySpeaking is a surprisingly accurate text-to-speech program that allows you to dictate your writing at a speed that probably doubles or triples your usual writing speed. It's worth every penny.

David Weber told me that he averages better than 200 words per minute, and I can personally back that up. I’m a fairly fast typist, but I'm ludicrously fast with voice recognition.

It's not flawless, and there is a learning curve. But when I finally got the hang of it, the boost to my writing speed was incredible. Plus, I believe the writing comes out subtly sounding more conversational and easier to read.

You can try the subscription-based Dragon Anywhere for free, but I recommend actually buying it for your computer. It is such an incredible timesaver that it will practically pay for itself in a week or two.

You can get the program on Amazon or directly from Nuance .

(Here's more on Getting Started With Dictation)

2. Canva

When writers aren't writing, we’re marketing. Every author needs the ability to quickly and easily create small graphics for your website, social media, or even just for your own inspiration.

Canva lets you do that easily, right in your web browser. Canva even offers a wide selection of free templates you can use to create a book cover. I talked in-depth about using Canva for book covers here.

Canva is free to use, if you upload your own images or choose from their free library. Get started here

Edit from Janice: Book Brush is a similar program and the one I use. They also have a free version, and a monthly plan. A good second option to try out as well.

3. GQueues

It's tough enough to keep your priorities and deadlines straight even before you add fiction writing into your schedule. I've tried every time management system and organizing app I can get my hands on. The best program for me is GQueues.

At its core, the app allows you to create any number of "queues" (basically folders) and then create individual tasks within them. You can drag tasks to reorder them by priority, or move them into different queues.

Ultra-useful options include the ability to tag tasks, create "smart queues" sorted by tag or due date, and set up automatic reminders in your email. If you use Gmail on Chrome, you can get an extension that allows you to create tasks right from your email inbox. Super handy.

The basic version is free. You can also pay a small annual fee to have it on your phone. Get it here.

One More Thing

Being more productive is a mindset. The more efficiently you can utilize your time, the faster you can write, and the faster you can achieve your goals. While no app can make you a better writer, they can give you the opportunity to become a better writer. And that's priceless.

By the way, if you enjoyed this article, come back next month for my article about the four must-have writing apps that can transform the way you write.

Have you tried any of these productivity apps, or have other suggestions? What has your experience been like? Leave me a comment below, or contact me on my author website at www.LaurenceMacNaughton.com.

Laurence MacNaughton is the author of more than a dozen novels, novellas, and short stories. His work has been praised by Booklist, Publishers Weekly, RT Book Reviews, Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews. He lives in Colorado with his wife and too many old cars. Try his stories for free at www.laurencemacnaughton.com.

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About Forever and a Doomsday

Crystal shop owner and quick-witted sorceress Dru Jasper is the guardian of the apocalypse scroll, an ancient instrument of destruction held in check by seven bloodred seals. All but one have been broken.

Now, a chilling cohort of soul-devouring wraiths has risen from the netherworld to crack open the final seal. If Dru and her misfit friends can’t stop them, the world will come to a fiery end. No pressure or anything.

These freakishly evil spirits can kill with a mere touch, making them impossible to fight by mortal means. To keep the apocalypse scroll out of their clutches, Dru must solve a 2,000-year-old magical mystery, find a city lost in the netherworld, and unearth a crystal older than the Earth itself.

Can she elude the forces of darkness long enough to save her friends and safeguard the scroll forever—before the undead break the seventh seal and bring on doomsday?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Indie Bound Kobo

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