Tech to the Rescue: Top Tips and Tools for Today’s Writers

There are plenty of Tools for Today's Writers that will make your freelancing life easier

Photo by CC user Unsplash on Pixabay

Having the right habits and software at your disposal can set you above the competition. It can be hard to know where to start with so much variety available in software and apps on the one hand and writing and interviewing techniques on the other. Here is a primer on some of the options available.

Writing Software

There’s great software available for writers apart from the costly Microsoft Office suite. LibreOffice Writer is the most powerful free and open source alternative to Office, including many of the same features. WriteMonkey is a streamlined, minimal (yet powerful) text editor and FocusWriter strips the features to a bare minimum to help you avoid distractions. Freemind is one of many free mind mapping programs. There’s plenty of software available for more specialised writing too. Celtx is a free scriptwriting platform ideal for solo writers and small teams, Sigil allows you to create your own eBooks and Scribus is used to design magazines.

Interviewing Tips

The interviewee wants to see you being interested and engaged, otherwise they’ll lose interest. Taking notes and multitasking presents a challenge because it reduces your ability to process and focus on what’s being said. Capturing the nuances in body language and tone of voice are equally important, to keep the flow and vibe of the conversation flowing. Prepare for the interview by knowing what each party is expecting, be present during it by matching their energy and, most of all, be genuinely interested in what they’re saying or it’ll show.

Recording

Typing or writing during an interview can be annoying and distracting either in person or over the phone. Recording calls and in-person interviews is the easy solution. Using your phone as a microphone is easy enough: set it up a flat surface or a little stand and use a recording app. Various call recorder apps also exist for manual or automatic recording, and let you sort, playback and upload with ease after you’ve recorded.

Automatic Call Recorder on Google Play expands these functions, allowing you to bookmark key points in the call (for later review or annotation) and protect calls with a PIN code. Automatic transcribing is also available from other apps although the AI is highly imperfect and it struggles with accents. You can try using Voice Base (the first 50 hours of which is free) to see if computer generated transcription is worth your time.

Transcribing

If you lack the time to transcribe or it’s not worth your time, you can hire a transcriptionist. Using Facebook or TaskRabbit can connect you to cheaper freelancers if you want to avoid the higher rates of a professional, or you can go to transcription companies. You can also have these companies record and transcribe your calls instantly. Turnaround times, costs and standards vary from service to service, so know what you’re getting into. Rev charges a dollar-a-minute and offers a 24-hour turnaround, whereas Scribie costs $3 a minute but has an 8-12 hour turnaround and offers lower rates for longer waits.

You’ll setup design will vary according to your skills and preferences. You might also consider mixing it up and trying out new tools to inspire creativity. Why should your set-up be any more limited than your writing style?

Paige Carter is a freelancer who does PA work, writes, blogs, and also makes sales calls for her friends business. She enjoys the variety of work and writes about some best practices and top tips in her articles.

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