Tools for Writing Productively by Meggin McIntosh, PhD

In Writers
Feb 20th, 2013

pen holderThese are tools that I find helpful – and I’m a reasonably prolific writer. Some are “old fashioned” and others are “new-fangled.” Use the ones that work for you, but know that I highly recommend:

  1. I don’t think there is a day where I don’t consult this tool. I write so much that I don’t want to be using the same words over and over – so looking a word up here usually gives me an array of options.

  2. is a website where you type in the word for which you need the meaning and it draws from 15 – 20 different dictionaries. If you need additional information you can click on it right from that webpage. It’s fast and helpful.

  3. Mindmapping. Our brains organize more like a mind map than an outline. You can do your own mind mapping on a large blank paper or you can use software designed for mind mapping. This tool helps you be more creative and prolific in your idea generation.

  4. Digital recorder. Many people feel quite comfortable talking but not when asked to write. If this is the case for you or if you like talking instead of ‘writing,’ use a digital recorder to capture your thoughts.

  5. Dragon Naturally Speaking. This is another wonderful software product that allows you to talk instead of “write.” You can quickly train the software to recognize your voice and translate your spoken words to written text.

  6. Good paper, good pens, pencils, markers, or whatever it is that you like to write with and on. Hmmm…Although I would write on nubby, cheap paper with a ratty pencil or pen if I had to rather than not write, it’s worth it to get high quality materials – especially when that encourages you to write more. My most delicious and decadent source:

  7. Coffee, tea, water, soda, wine, or some other beverage that signals – to you – that it’s writing time. Since you want to have all the tools you need when you sit down to write, you might as well have your beverage of choice available.

  8. An envelope and a stamp (or a send button). Although most places now want your articles, chapters, poems, and other written material sent electronically, there are still those who request a paper copy. Have your envelope, stamp, or send button ready to use!

  9. A good computer with decent internet connection. Although you don’t have to have a computer to write, there may be a time when you really need the power that a decent computer offers you. In addition, no one wants to be hassling with dial-up or intermittent internet access when the time comes to access the web.

  10. A calendar/planner. The idea is that you actually schedule writing time just like you schedule other appointments. This is not the first time you’ve heard this idea, right? But…maybe you need to hear it again, just in case.

Surely one of these tools I’ve recommended will serve you – and I hope that several of them do. Choose one and give it a try today. You have nothing to lose except maybe some excuses. Tough love, right?

© Meggin McIntosh, PhD (also known as “The PhD of Productivity”®). One of the ways that you can learn from Meggin about productive writing is through her 30 Articles in Just 30 Days program (

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