Monday, 28 November 2016

Author Technology by Abie Longstaff

How do you use technology for writing?

Lots of my author buddies use Scrivener - writing software that allows you to organise notes and research alongside your manuscript. Many of my friends extol its virtues but, because my books are shorter than theirs, I've never felt the need to use it.

In fact, at first I thought I didn't use technology at all for writing:

I scribe longhand in notebooks, recording every idea in case one comes in useful later.

I scribble out my plots by hand

I research at the library or by reading through my own groaning shelves of picture books

Yep I thought, except for the final write up in Word, I can get by without technology at all.

I tapped through my phone feeling quite zen and satisfyingly Luddite. Only - up popped Twitter and Facebook and Blogs and my stash of Bookmarks and I realised that yes I do use technology for picture book writing - I use the internet. And I use it at every stage of the process.

1. For inspiration

I flick through the Comedy Wildlife Awards for photos of foolish animals
I use Google Images - eg I might simply type in 'penguin' to see if anything visual sparks an idea.
I have Pinterest boards to store ideas for my books - my Fairytale Hairdresser one is here and looks like this:

2. For research:

If I want fairy tales I use Sur la lune, which has a wonderful forum as well as research notes on each tale.
For myths I often visit Seven Miles of Steel Thistles.
Then, of course, there's the high-level scientific research we authors routinely have to do:

3. For writing advice:

I look on forums and sites like
Notes from the Slushpile
Author Allsorts
Girls Heart Books

4. For promotion

I use my Twitter and I follow the Picture Book Den Twitter
I use my Facebook
my website
and I blog here on Picture Book Den as well as other sites as a guest.

I follow a whole range of wonderful blog and book review sites such as
Serendipity Reviews
Story Snug
Nayu's Reading Corner
Heather Reviews
Tales of Yesterday
Luna's Little Library

So I guess I'm not as much of a Luddite as I thought!

What about you - what technology do you use for writing?

Abie Longstaff's latest picture book is The Fairytale Hairdresser and the Princess and the Pea.


Michelle Robinson said...

Laughing at 'Do squirrels have eyebrows' - I sometimes wonder what on earth people would think of me if they looked at my Google search history. 'Can goats swim?', 'Dog sitting in a swing', 'Particularly menacing cat', etc. I use the internet for research a lot, and Rhymezone is easily one of my most visited sites.

Juliet Clare Bell said...

I also loved 'do squirrels have eyebrows' -do they? I feel like I can get easily sucked into loads of online stuff so I am not generally looking to use more but those pinterest boards look interesting. What makes pinterest better for that than something else? Would you recommend it? And presumably you can keep it private? If it doesn't take ages to set up or work out, I might try it so I can have a pinboard for each book but would I get sucked in and spend ages looking at other people's? Thanks. Clare

Abie Longstaff said...

Thanks both.
I like Pinterest and find it v easy to use. You can keep boards completely private - I tend to have hidden ones for brand new projects and I only make them public once the book is contracted and coming out. Yes you can get sucked into a black hole of time!! But I find it jogs lots of ideas and it's handy to store all the visual info in one place. Digitally means you don't have to spend ages gluing and sticking a mood board.

Teresa Heapy said...

I use an online thesaurus and WikiRhymer and can't write without either! I also use Pinterest, particularly for non-fiction books. And I write loads of notes on my phone, just in the bog-standard Notes app - some of which I can't bear to delete now, as they contain the germ of an idea, or a key moment in a book.

Michelle Robinson said...

I use Notes, too (and have similar problems pressing 'delete'!)

Jeff Gill said...

I write almost everything in nvALT – the greatest and simplest writing app in all the world – which syncs via Dropbox to Byword on my phone. Long stuff does get moved to Scrivener for organising and redrafting.

I use RhymeZone all the time. (I’ve just had a quick look at WikiRhymer. It looks like it might be better. Thank you, Teresa.)

I also illustrate, which requires a bit of tech: an LED light box, a scanner and Affinity Photo (which I happily switched to after more than two decades using Photoshop.)

Jane Clarke said...

I love the 'research' bit - my first stop is generally Wikipedia.