Avon Van Hassel

Building Worlds and Filling Them With Magic

I’ve seen a lot of people online asking lots of writing advice: how to write in deep PoV (Point of View), how to handle negative criticism, show versus tell, etc. I intend over the next few months to tackle as many of these topics as I can, but first I’m going to start with a very fluid and dynamic topic: tools. These are the tools I use, every single day, in my writing and in my life outside.

#1 Scrivener

I have a whole page about Scrivener because I am an affiliate seller for them, but honestly, I wouldn’t be if I didn’t fully believe in the product. Scrivener has changed everything about the way I write from how I organise my notes to how much effort I put into formatting. It looks intimidating at first, and it does have a lot of bells and whistles, but it’s well worth taking the time to figure it out. You’ll save so much time and energy that you can redirect into actually writing and polishing.

#2 Panda Planner

I discovered Panda Planner from one of those Bustle or Elite Daily slideshows about Amazing 5-star Amazon Products that Get Thousands of Reviews. And I’m a shopaholic who can’t seem to get her life in order no matter how hard she tries, so I fall easy to prey to those things. I have actually caved and bought very few of the items I’ve fantasised about, but the one I did actually think long and hard about was this one. And I have to say, it has actually helped.

Do you have one long to-do list with about a million things on it? Is it overwhelming to see that list with the little empty boxes and think, ‘how am I going to get all of this done today, on top of my family obligations and work, and oh yeah–I need to cook food at some point?’ I get overwhelmed pretty easily, and while to-do lists do keep track of what has not yet been done, they tend to grow faster than they shrink.

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My actual entry for today

 

One thing that Panda Planner does is it breaks down your tasks into Daily, Weekly, and Monthly blocks. Big picture, little smaller, and micro, down to an hourly breakdown of your day. It helps to see what needs to be done today, versus what needs to be done sometime this week, or at some point generally. The bathtub does need to be scrubbed, but does it need to be today, or can it be tomorrow or Thursday? It lets you focus on 5 main priorities, but also lets you list other, less important tasks that need to be handled. And if you don’t get it all done, no sweat, just add it to the next day, or week.

I can’t find the exact quote, but I read one once along the lines of, ‘maybe the reason planners don’t work for you is not because you don’t write things down, but because you don’t do them.’ It was more artful than that, but I can’t find it. And that was basically me: I knew what needed to be done, but it felt like just tackling one thing at a time wouldn’t be enough. Now, I only have five things, max, a day, that are priorities. Once those are done, I might tackle something on my weekly list, or I might watch Pirates again (for research purposes, of course). Of, if I don’t have five things that day, a weekly task will get promoted. So it really does help a lot more than you’d think just-another-planner will.

And, if you’re overwhelmed still, there is a website you get free access to with your purchase, where there are videos and published articles and all kinds of things to get you started strong, as well as two discount coupons to give to friends to help them get organised.

#3 Evernote

Evernote revolutionised how I used the Internet. Do you ever use that Pinterest extension for Chrome? The one where you hit the button and it lets you pin whatever site you’re on directly to a board? It’s basically how Pinterest exists at all (because manually adding pins is way too much bother). Well, Evernote is like that, except it’s like the app version of a 3-ring binder. You can use the Web Clipper function to pin websites to your Notebooks, which you can arrange into stacks. You can add your own text notes like any other note taking app, you can add pictures, schedule a calendar, share with friends. It’s pretty amazing.

evernoteunderthehood

Yes, I do have a note about poop and fart jokes from the 1700’s. Nothing but proper scholarship, here, folks.

Honestly, it’s unbelievably convenient. Seriously, sometimes I’ll get an idea in the middle of the night, open Evernote, and type it out, hence why there are so many notes with just one line of gibberish. It’s so easy to just move them around to the appropriate notebook, and you never have to worry about smudged ink or graphite or losing a note. And there’s a handy search feature that has saved my sanity on seriously countless occasions.

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So there you have it, folks, my Top Three can’t-live-without-’em tools. If you guys have any tools you like a in addition to these, do let me know about them in the comments, and I’ll check them out!

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