Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tools of the Trade

Everything is interesting. Image from here.
Time to pull back the curtain and share a bit with you the things I use when I'm writing:

Dictionary/Thesaurus.com is maybe the one resource I use every time I've got a writing window open. I've got thesaurii here at the house but there's something about being able to type in a word then clicking on a synonym and checking definitions for similarities. It's enormously easy and convenient and probably too easy and convenient. I rely on this site more than I should.

Wikipedia is another resource that I use extensively especially when I'm researching weird stuff or history. Again I've got books on shelves here at home but when I need to wiki some shit to extrapolate possibilities, that's what I use it for. Now the caveat about Wikipedia is that it's not always as accurate as it could be, nor as reliable. That's why I visit the links at the end of the articles I read. And those links will lead to other links and possibly to typing something into the Google window at the top of my browser. That can lead me to a whole other kettle of fish and losing another hour or two if I'm not careful.

Let's see, what else? Oh, yeah, YouTube is a big way to do some research. Ever wanted to spend an hour or two looking at UFO videos? Ever wonder why a writer would need to do that? Me, too.

Duotrope has been terribly, terribly helpful in finding markets to submit stories to. It's a terrific place to do a lot of research on where I need to send things. Very highly recommended.

I use delicious.com to store a bunch of links I find online in relation to the project it's related to. I have stacks that are dedicated to particular stories or types of stories so that the links are easily discoverable know matter where I am when I'm writing. It's helpful to have a link to delicious on my phone so that when I'm stuck in line somewhere I can pull up a site I want to read.

Finally, Google Reader is invaluable for me to be able to keep up with the blogs I'm interested in. I don't get there every day and it's lovely to be able to get there and pull up what I'm interested in at the moment and catch up. I've got blogs in there that offer all sorts of insights and up to date information on just about everything. Also handy to have this one on the phone, too, for those long waits.

A lot of the web resources I use are transient, too. They depend on the story I'm writing and my interests of the time. As I noted above some of them land in a stack on my delicious account, but not all of them. I tend to rely on physical books for a lot of research as the ideas are the same whether from 30 or 40 years ago or on the internet today. There's something really nice about flipping pages physically, leafing through a book on the porch without a hot laptop on my legs. I highly recommend having physical books for reference. Dictionaries and thesaurii included.

Any sites you think I should use? Obviously this list isn't comprehensive but I'm always looking for new things to distract me. Ooooh! Shiny! SQUIRREL.