Tools I Regularly Use and Recommend.

Because I’m apparently not taking sufficient care of the Muse these days, I don’t have fresh stories to share right now. Thus, I instead present to you the tools I use to write and organize my ideas, in the event that you might find them useful for your work.

I was an ardent user of the now retired Writeboard. Though there are many who extol the virtues of Google Drive documents for rough drafts and editing, I found it lacking in comparison to Writeboard. I then stumbled upon Draft.

The feature I find most useful about Draft is the ability to review all previous drafts in their entirety. As I strive for brevity and clarity, sometimes I realize that what I had written in draft 2 is more useful than what I have in draft 7. It is easy to both review and compare what you previously wrote.

Draft also has a simple, uncluttered interface. The navigation is clear. The running list of documents (both in general and in any folders you have created) makes it psychologically easier to let go of (but not erase) those crappy first drafts, which often don’t seem as hopeless and terrible a few weeks or months later.

I use Field Notes to capture ideas and reminders. I’m fond of stationery and enjoy trying new notebooks. I’m that person who can spend hours at a stationery store, admiring all the different pens and pencils, looking with wonder at the staple-free staplers and brightly colored and curiously shaped sticky notes, and feeling the textures and weights of the pages in all the various notebooks. Many notebooks seem “too serious” for me: The sheets are crisp and formal, the cover fonts and designs are somber, and I worry that any scribbles from my mortal hand will ruin the pages.

An empty notebook is a useless notebook.

Field Notes are whimsical and hardy. As they travel through the world with me, the covers get dog-eared, pages crease, and the colors on the cover fade. Because they’re informal, though, these blemishes of time only add to their character and encourage me to fill the pages to completion.

I currently use bullet Space Pens to write in my Field Notes, though not because I am writing upside down, in oil, or in zero-gravity environments. Women’s pants often have small pockets and bullet Space Pens are small enough to remain inside the pockets. That’s it.

I otherwise am fond of Pilot G2 gel pens (ultra fine tip, usually black) and Marvy Uchida’s Le Pens (all the colors!). Le Pens have helped me get through many textbooks and journal articles.

Lastly, like this fellow, I am a believer of TeuxDeux. While I use Field Notes to capture the things I both need and want to do, TeuxDeux helps me schedule those things so that I actually do them. It is uncluttered, easy to use, flexible, and helps me stay focused on what I should do on a given day.

Though my penchant for paper makes me yearn for a paper-only organization system, the reality is that TeuxDeux is easier to manage. (As much as I would like to use the Bullet Journal system, I know I cannot sustain it.) I find TeuxDeux technical enough for efficiency and effectiveness, but not so technical that I spend a lot of time tinkering with it.

(May this be a sufficient offering to the Muse.)