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Wednesday, February 20 2019 @ 08:38 PM EST

Writing Toolbox Guest Post - Alan Baxter

Writing Toolbox Intro: Last week, my Writing Toolbox - 5 Useful Tools for Writers post gained a bit of interest on social media from fellow writers. Discussions were started, and it was soon obvious how different everyone's writing methods were. So, I've invited a number of other authors to come along and show us what is in their Writing Toolbox, and tell us a little about how they approach the more 'mechanical' aspects of story writing. First up, dark-fiction authdog-lover and Kung Fu master, Alan Baxter opens up his toolbox for all to see...


Andrew asked me if I’d be interested in a guest post on my personal writer’s toolbox. I thought it was a pretty fascinating idea, so I was happy to get involved. I like to keep my toolbox very simple. I’ve tried a variety of more complicated things, but never got on with them. For example, I tried Scrivener and hated it with a passion.


Really, my toolbox contains two things:


MS Word



It’s fair to add one other thing to that:


The Internet


I use the net for research, obviously, as well as keeping abreast of current markets and all that stuff. But for the actual writing, I have my laptop and MS-Word, and that’s it. Everything is saved in Dropbox, which means it saves locally on my hard drive, but is also instantly uploaded to the cloud as well. And, because I’m really paranoid about losing work, I also email new manuscripts to myself and backup regularly to an external hard drive. Even so, one EMP and I’m fucked. I keep meaning to get books printed of all my stories, just for my own hard copies, to be old school safe. I did it once and have a hardback book from Lulu with everything in it up to about 2012 or so. One day I’ll get around to doing that again and get all my recent stuff saved too. Maybe I should do a book for each year of publication or something… But I digress.


So my toolbox is really just MS-Word. Not only the main manuscript, but all my notes and timelines are separate Word docs in the same file. I do quite often use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of novel timelines, especially as there tend to be two or three main story threads in novel length work, so I have a column for each.


I’ve also sometimes used my iPad and the Docs To Go app for writing on the run when I’m away from home on holidays or at conventions and so on, and I have that synced with Dropbox too.


Everything else is peripheral. I often use the notepad app and the voice memo app on my phone when I’m out and about or sitting on the couch ruminating. I’ll also send myself an email with ideas written down that way. But then I transcribe all those into Word docs saved to Dropbox as soon as I’m back at my desk. Similarly, I do a lot of mind-noodling with an old-fashioned notepad and pen, then transcribe that ASAP too.


That’s what works for me – uncluttered simplicity. Me, a blank page and my fevered brainmeats. Then I let it all ooze out.



Alan Baxter is a British-Australian author who writes dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu. He lives among dairy paddocks on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia, with his wife, son, dog and cat. He’s the award-winning author of six novels and over sixty short stories and novellas. So far. Read extracts from his novels, a novella and short stories at his website – www.warriorscribe.com – or find him on Twitter @AlanBaxter and Facebook, and feel free to tell him what you think. About anything.


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