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Writing Software? Ask Anne The Pro Writer

Hi Anne,

I am just starting out as a freelance writer. I know that in order to write you just have to start writing and often it is with no particular subject in mind.  At the risk of sounding ignorant, I’d like to know if most freelance writers start a new document every day, use paper journals or some type of “writing specific” software.  Can you enlighten me?

Best regards,

Hi RB,

Thanks for writing, RB.

First of all, most freelancers make a distinction between journaling or writing practice, which often is just to start writing “with no particular subject in mind” as you said, and the writing we hope will bring us money.

Articles, books and stories you want to sell need a subject or a topic. In fact, the better we understand the purpose of a particular piece we’re writing, the better the writing is likely to be. Both kinds of writing are useful, but they are, for the most part, different.

I don’t know for sure, but I would guess easily 90% of the freelance writers in the world don’t use any special writing software. We just open a file, usually Word™ and begin. There are software packages out there that claim to make a writer’s job easier. I have one for novel writing. I haven’t found it particularly useful, but maybe I haven’t given it a fair trail.

There is also software to help screenwriters. I don’t know much about it since I don’t write for movies, TV or stage, but I suspect it handles the formatting required for scripts.

And yes, there are still some writers using paper and pen as a way to start, and others who are still working with real typewriters.

In other words, we find a way to get words on paper; the exact method doesn’t matter nearly as much as getting the writing done.



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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • admin

    As usual, Devon, you’re right on… I do remember the tight deadlines of newspaper writing. 😉 And so are you, Michele, don’t mean to leave you out.

  • I do what works best for the project. Most articles are done directly onto the computer. Many scripts are, although sometimes I still do first drafts in longhand. I often write the first draft of fiction in longhand — unless I’m on a tight publication deadline.

    And my journal is handwritten.

    I’ve tried many of the software programs out there, and found them a waste of time and money. I learn the standard format for what I write, set up my own template, and there we go.

    Everyone has to play around, see what serves the work best, and what serves the particular project best.

    Also, when you’re on deadline, you have to align your preferred process with the schedule.

    Devon Ellington’s last blog post..Tuesday, February 10, 2009

  • RB,
    It sounds as if you may be talking of free flow writing where you just write whatever comes to mind for however many minutes like I did in elementary and right on up to college and beyond. This is usually done to get ideas flowing, to write things down so you don’t forget, to practice for writing a specific piece of text – article, website content, etc.

    The object in question is whatever the writer prefers be it a journal or a Word document. I have read that some writers write several times a day, once a week, or when a new idea pops up; again the writer’s preference.

    I usually begin with traditional pen and paper and then transfer my written work over to Word. However I probably would not do that if I were to write a novella or novel.

    I have seen some of the software available and would not use it myself.

    Anne’s last sentence to you is 100% true.

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