Okay maybe not improve your writing but create a decent environment for writing when you should be doing other things. This post is about how technology can help you as a writer. Lets be perfectly clear all you really need to be a writer is a piece of paper, a pen, and a story to tell. But you also need time, and that’s what this is really about, making the most of your time. Lets say you have a 9-5 day job with an hour lunch break, you have a family at home and other commitments how do you make the time to write. Well you have a PC at work and a pair of headphones, should you get to work a bit early and leave a bit late you could get two hours of writing time to yourself every day. Lets face it when you sit on that comfy sofa with the remote control in your hand and the kids finally in bed the motivation to get working is tough to come across.
So back to work, and technology. You could quite easily write using pen and paper in your new found writing time, or use MS Word, OR you could try and justify or bribe the IT guy to put a few legal and free programmes on to your computer
Celtx and Dropbox
Celtx is a free and open source screen writing programme a kind of Final Draft for the masses, dropbox is an online cloud storage site, which also allows you to install a folder on to your PC (or Mac or Linux) which will automatically sync to everywhere else you have the folder installed such as your home PC. So you could start writing at home and pick it up at work and vice versa.
The use of these two programmes has been fantastic for me, as I write with a partner so we can collaborate on scripts and see instantly when the other is updating something, we just have two tabs in each project (a his and hers if you will) and we can make whatever changes we want to that whilst being able to see what the other is up to.
A PDF Reader
Another amazingly useful tool, as if you are going to be a script writer you need to be a script reader. Not in the professional sense, but you need to read scripts. You wouldn’t become a novelist and never read books, or a film maker without watching films. Scripts are easily available online and google is your friend, sites such as mypdfscripts have a huge supply of professional scripts in PDF form.
So once you have a stack to read, how do you read them? Well for me the best way is on my phone. Most smartphones have a PDF reader built in such as ibooks for iphone or goodreader for older iphones and ipods or even Adobe reader for Android phones. A phone is always with you (unlike an expensive tablet), waiting for a bus, have a look at a script, on the loo, have a look at a script, just really bored in a meeting, pretend to check your emails but actualy have a look at a script. Whist we’re on the subject of phones it should also be noted there is a Celtx iPhone app which means you can do all of the above with your own script and make changes though I wouldn’t advise actually tring to write something with that virtual keyboard.
Twitter and the Internet
When I first logged on to Twitter I didn’t really know what to do with it, it seemed a bit like an RSS reader for celebrity nonsense and for some; that is exactly what it is. It’s also an amazing networking tool, there are tonnes of film makers and writers on Twitter that are in exactly the same boat as you, day job, struggling to make it, learning. MEET THESE PEOPLE or at least virtually meet them look for hashtags to do with film making or writing, check out their blogs. The UK Scriptwriters podcast by Danny Stack and Tim Clague is a great use of your time on the way to work, Chris Jones author of the Guerilla Film Makers Handbook is amazingly generous with advice on his blog. Scott Myers Go Into The Story Blog is full of inspiration and experience. Lucy Hay has a fountain of knowledge at Write Here Write Now. Not to mention something I have become involved with #scriptchat which is a gathering of writers online every Sunday night at 8pm on Twitter to talk through various writing topics and speak to guests. Once a month those of us who can, meet in person in London. It’s networking made easy as we’ve all met “virtually” and have something to talk about straight away (at least I hope, being one of the new moderators my first tweet up is a week on Thursday ). It’s really quite amazing how helpful and open other writers can be, and why not start a blog of your own and share your own experiences, it might be a form of procrastination but it’s still writing and it gets you thinking.
In terms of tech these are a few things I rely on, and are basically, Writing, Reading, Networking. No matter how you do it, these three things really go hand in hand to make you a better writer, leave one out (I’m looking at YOU networking) and you really are missing out, technology is just one way that can help you do all of those a little bit easier, you still need talent and motivation
All the blogs I’ve mentioned should have links embedded and here’s a list of a few film related Twitter people to follow, not forgetting you can join us every Sunday at 8 by following #sciptchat