So you have a new writing app you're dying to try, eh? Well, before you sit down to take on that big writing project, consider giving that app a solid test run so you can learn all the ins and outs first.
Photo: Marco Verch
There's this feeling that comes with a fancy new piece of writing software, or productivity software in general. It's a feeling of potential, of power, like you've suddenly found the secret that's going to help you to finish your novel, your screenplay, or that school paper that decides whether you pass or fail.
Unfortunately, that feeling quickly fades when you realise you have no idea how to use it. If there's one thing that will freeze your flow into self-manifested writer's block, it's an app's learning curve.
This happened to me during last year's NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. I finally decided to give Scrivener a try and thought my novel was the perfect maiden voyage for the preferred vessel of many writers.
I was wrong. I didn't really know how to use the app to its fullest, and even taking a few minutes to look something up was enough to disturb my flow — which is vital when you're trying to crank out at least 1600 words a day. I quickly ditched the app and used a regular ol' word processor for the rest of the month. Oh well...
Sometimes the hardest part about writing isn't finding ideas or knowing how to begin, it's maintaining a flow so you actually finish what you started. It's not quite total writer's block since you're already on the move, but a writer's road block, if you will. This trick that Star Trek. The Next Generation staff writers used can help you keep on truckin'.
Look, it's great that you've found an app that will help you write better, but play around with it for a while before you try anything big. You'll avoid disrupting your flow, and you'll find out if you actually like the program as much as you think you do. It's a test drive, plain and simple.
If fiction is your game, bust out a short story or two. If you're trying to write a screenplay, start with a short so you get used to all the hotkeys. These apps are tools, and a tool can only be useful when you know how to use it properly.