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Before you start writing, let's talk about the computer tools you'll need. These fall into three categories. There are tools to handle your words; media tools for graphics, audio, and video editing; and an organizing system. For words, the tools that most people know best are word processors such as Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, and Google Docs. Word processors let you do such things as make words bold or change paragraph margins, but sometimes those functions actually get in the way of writing.
That's why many writers, including me, prefer to write their first drafts using a text editor. It doesn't have as many formatting options as a word processor, but in exchange, it often has extra features, such as a way to do complex text searches. Simple text editors include WordPad on Windows and Text Edit on Mac. My own personal favorite is TextWrangler. The third way to manage words is with a layout program such as Adobe InDesign. Now, you'll probably only need one if you do work that requires you to design pages as well as write, so you'll probably want to wait until you need one before you buy it.
So, those are the word tools. Next come what I call media tools. These are things that help you capture and manipulate audio, graphics, and video. I often need to interview people for the articles I write, so my two most important media tools are a phone system in a way of recording calls. I use Skype for calls and a Mac program called WireTap Studio to record them, and then I also use a headset from Plantronics to leave my hands free to take notes. But there are many other options, including call recording apps for smartphones.
You might also need tools to handle photos and video, for example to include screenshots or edit graphics. My own graphics toolbox includes Snapz Pro for screen capture on the Mac and Adobe Photoshop for image manipulation, but again, there are many other options. Finally, every writer needs an organizing system. I rely on my computer's built-in calendar to track to-dos and deadlines, and a folder system to store backups, source materials, and assignment details.
I also rather like a program called Scrivener. It's designed specifically to help writers organize their materials. But really, you can use any system as long as it works for you. That takes care of the technical tools, aside from the usual stuff you'd need to run an office. But the good news is that writing is a fairly low-investment pursuit. As long as you have a way to handle your words in media, and a way to organize them, you're all set to start writing.
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