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Making A List: Gadgets Writers Can’t Live Without

As you may have seen if you’re following my Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr, I’m doing a regular column for Book Country now. (By the way, Book Country is an excellent hangout for genre writers. Not just SF/F, but mystery, romance, etc. Get critiques, get writing advice, meet new people, it’s pretty awesome.) The column will focus on tech for writers and how to find the best tools so you can just focus on achieving wordcount.

One of the topics I plan to cover in the near future is good gadgets for writers. Not laptops — those get their own posts — but the other pieces of tech we find useful. For instance, I have a LiveScribe Echo Smartpen, a fabulous pen device that records what I write and digitizes it. It can also record audio while you write and sync it up with what you were writing at the time.

I find it very useful for crit sessions. I don’t have to write down everything a person said, but I can jot down a one or two word note, click it later, and hear their exact words on why my characterization felt flat. It’s also useful for journalists and students (for obvious reasons). One day I’ll write a full review.

So far I’ve got a short list of my favorite gadgets, but I wanted to throw the question out to my fiction writing friends. Are there any gadgets or pieces of tech that you’ve found helpful to have as a writer beyond your computer or cell phone? Things that either help you when writing or researching or even keeping your sanity when dealing with the business end of writing (taxes, promotion). Tell me about them in the comments. Don’t forget to tell me why you find them useful to you.

  • Katrina Drake

    Oh I have to go look into that pen! I might need to get that.

  • That pen sounds AMAZING. I am pretty devoted to my tiny LED floodlight, which both stands on its own and clips to things, giving me enough light to read or write even if I’m in a dark room where people are trying to sleep. (Apparently its official name is the Fulcrum LED Multi-Flex Task Light.)

  • Cecilia Tan

    Ok this isn’t exactly in the spirit of what you’re probably looking for, but headphones. I end up having to try to get writing done in many chaotic environments. Trains, planes, waiting rooms, coffee shops, lobbies, my agent’s living room, etc. My earbuds are easy to carry everywhere so they mean I can always “be alone” when I need to. (Most people are trained to realize when they see them that you can’t hear them and don’t give a damn even if you did. Thank you surly teens.) I’ve thought about investing in schmancy noise canceling ones but haven’t done it yet.

    If you get to looking at software, too, don’t laugh, I recommend every writer use a learn-to-touch-type program. Think about it. If you can make your typing flawless and faster than it is, you are saving yourself thousands of future hours of work in both actual writing time and correcting time. Everyone these days “knows how to type” but it’s such a basic skill that can be improved on.