Monday, 25 January 2016

Writing Tools

As someone who is always writing, whether it be a short story, poem, novel or something else, there are certain programs I use which help ensure that I get things done quickly, accurately and efficiently.

There are a number of concerns with writing, first off the spelling needs to be correct, then the formatting needs to be perfect and then if publishing you need to use a combination of these.

Of course, the first thing you need is something to write! My motto has always been, write as much as you can, whenever you can, and although some of it may not be very good, a few gems will shine through. Another good reason for writing a ton of material means you can then go back to what you've written and mix a few bad writings to make one very good writing. Most of the time, first attempts are a stepping stone to greater things.

So, to the tools I use. I'll keep this simple, as it's the way it should be. I use two free word processing packages for very different tasks.

Some people may ask why I don't use Microsoft Word, as that is available on PC, mobile and tablets. The simple answer is cost. Why pay for a service when the free versions of the programs mentioned below perform better. I tried Word Online, but found it clunky and a lot more hassle than Google Docs.

Google Docs
Writing can take part at any time. I can be on my phone on a journey, or relaxing with my tablet, or sitting next to my laptop. What Google Docs allows is a platform where you can access your writing from the Cloud, meaning whatever you write is kept in a safe place on Google's servers, where it can be accessed on any of your machines at any time as long as you have internet connection (and who doesn't have internet connection these days?)

Being able to write on the go, and carry on writing from the spot where you left off on any machine is a Godsend to us writers. Google Docs allows formatting and other basic features which will let you compose a decent document.

Even the mobile versions are capable with Google Docs (this article was written on a tablet using Google Docs). However, should you want your documents to be even better formatted, then the online version is an improvement.

Google Docs is the number one word processor I use for just banding out text. It's fast, reliable, and doesn't complicate things. No need to think of anything but what you are writing. No writing if you lose power or your PC crashes. It's all backed up in real time, and always there for you to retrieve it.

LibreOffice 5
Usually if I'm writing for my blog, Google Documents is adequate, however sometimes when more formatting is required, or when I need more variety of fonts etc, LibreOffice 5 is my go to word processor.

LibreOffice is an office suite much like Microsoft Office, however it's free and easier to use. Some people complain that it doesn't look as nice as Microsoft's Office, but it can be easily modified and its looks add to the reason I actually use it!

LibreOffice 5 is used when needing to publish to Amazon, it's files have been proven to be cleaner than Word when saved, as to make published books look more like the work you spent hours formatting.

The whole office suite is fast and powerful, and of course more than competent with handling any files you throw at it.

More recently a version of LibreOffice called OpenOffice (which was actually the original code for Libre) has been released for Android called AOO (Android Open Office) which means there is no need for a PC to be used.

There always comes a time when you need to send of your work to someone else. Thankfully, both Google Docs and LibreOffice 5 are great for doing this.

Your files in Google Docs can be shared to other people by simply using their email address. More and more business use Google's office suite, so most of the time it's no issue. For those who are stuck in the dark ages and only use Word, your Google files can be saved as Microsoft format files (ie .docx etc)

LibreOffice can save as .docx files as standard, and they are highly compatible with Word, so there are rarely any issues on standard written documents. More and more companies, including the UK Government are using .odt files, which LibreOffice does as standard, so again no issues there.

Writing is fun, and the tools you use to write make a big difference. Being able to write an article on any platform and carry on writing same article on different platform is the biggest winner, and the reason I stand by Google Docs as the best writing tool for writers.

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