Writing Tips #5 | Writing Tools I Love to Use | Part 2

by - March 08, 2019

Most of you probably have Microsoft Word on your computers, especially if you use Windows. It’s a great program to help you write and create a great piece of writing.

When I’m "pantsing" a novel, I tend to have about seven documents open:

1. Bits of Planning

2. Discards
3. Documenting my Progress
4. Notes
5. When Editing…
6. Images
7. Novel

(Two of the above documents--Bits of Planning and When Editing…--could probably be included in the Notes document, but I like having them separate.)

Bits of Planning is basically what it says: longer notes/plans for my novel. I didn't include it in Notes because my notes are shorter than an outline, so it keeps me more organized. In Notes, I keep track of my characters' names and where they live, etc. (However, if you didn’t want so many documents, you could definitely just use Notes for this purpose.)

Discards is one of the most important documents I have, and here’s why: If there’s a part in my novel that I love, but can’t use, I cut it from my novel and paste it into Discards. That way, I still have the piece of writing, but it’s not messing up my novel. (Trust me: you don’t want to make the mistake of deleting it! Guess who’s learned that the hard way? Yep… Learn from my mistakes!)

Documenting my Progress is one of my favorite documents because I can see when I started my novel, when I reached 1,000 words, 5,000, 10,000, and so on. It’s keeping track of my progress. I like to mark the date when I reach another 5,000 words—or another 50 pages. It's just something to celebrate! Of course, you can customize your document, but this is what I like to use.

Notes. Yay, notes! I love this document because I can keep track of any notes that pop into my head. Characters' first/last names and ages, for example, is something good to add into this document as well. You can add anything to this document that you don't want to forget.

When Editing... In His Hands (the novel I most recently completed) was the first novel to undergo this document! Basically, when I realized something needed fixed, I quickly wrote it down. Why didn't I just fix it right away? Well, I usually don’t want to take the time to go all the way back through my novel and fix the problems, especially if they’re big. In addition, I don’t want to use up my creative energy fixing something that I can do later—I want to use that energy to write the rest of my novel first! (But, of course, this also posed problems. I am no longer editing my novel because it needed too much work, which I'm not willing to put in to it. If you're going to be a pantser, you have to choose wisely how you edit!)

In His Hands--Novel. Need I say more? ;) This is the document where I actually write my novel (In His Hands, for example). I love making fancy type for my chapter numbers. It makes it feel like a real book. I use Blackadder ITC font, size 16, for my chapter numbers, and my novel font is Times New Roman, size 12.

* * *

So there you have it! For all you pantsers out there, I hope you have found this helpful.

Of course, I always suggest that you outline your work, but I completely understand if you have already begun and want to keep going. I think you should keep going and just finish it. That's what I did. Then, you can go back through your novel and make edits and changes.

It will be hard, and it will take time. But it will be worth it.


let’s chat!
So what about you? Are you an outliner or a pantser? Have you tried both options? Which do you find the most helpful?

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