5 Nifty Google Writing Tools

Author:
Publish date:

Hi, writers,

Maria is likely sipping exotic neon cocktails and hanging out with top writers as the Maui Writers Conference wraps up in Hawaii, so this week I’m taking over The Writer’s Perspective and the WD fort in Cincinnati, wearing an old lei from a luau-themed office party.

I originally planned to blog about nationwide newspaper cuts (our local Cincinnati Enquirer mentioned today that 15 newsroom staffers have accepted buyouts), but I’m working on some great material for the January/February issue, so let’s go with a less grim topic—let’s go with some of my overly abused Google writing tools.

Here are five free, simple, nifty writing tricks I picked up as a reporter that can be surprisingly handy when editing or writing.

Google Phonebook: Looking to hunt down the phone number of that mysterious source before deadline? Go to Google.com and type “phonebook: John Smith Nevada.” Now you have all the John Smiths in Nevada, and you didn’t need to root through any hulking yellow tomes.

iGoogle: My over-checked guilty pleasure. At iGoogle.com, you can set up a custom web page, and you can even tailor it to your own writing and reading ends with a database of free widgets. For instance, mine has both of my e-mail addresses plugged into it, seven news feeds, a word of the day, an artist of the day, a dictionary form, a thesaurus form, a daily literary quote and a strange “Writer’s Idea Bank” tool. Overkill? Probably. Perfect for compulsive e-mail-checking writers? Definitely. (Requires free Google account.)

Google Docs: This is a relatively new one in my lineup, but one that I’m increasingly using. At docs.google.com you can find the tech behemoth’s free online word processor, which allows you to write, edit, save and even format your material as you would in a normal program. Upside: You can access your writing anywhere without a flash drive. Downside: No internet connection? Ut-oh. (Requires free Google account.)

Google Calculator: I didn’t get into writing because I was good at math, so it’s a good thing search engines are. Simply type “456*993” into the browser and you’re a whiz. If you still remember what square roots are, you can do those, too.

Define: The crown jewel, crucial for helping your writing (or settling arguments) when you don’t have a dictionary or Internet connection handy. Text message Google with your cell phone (466453) and write “Define: Athabascan.” Soon enough, your mobile phone is telling you all about Alaska and Western Canada. Texting Google also works for movie times, weather and directions.

For more, visit google.com/help/features.html. What are your favorite writing gadgets and widgets?

Read on and write on,

Zac

--

Zachary Petit
WD Managing Editor

Shawn Nocher: On Letting Your Characters Lead

Shawn Nocher: On Letting Your Characters Lead

Author Shawn Nocher discusses how thinking deeply about her characters lead her to a breakthrough when crafting her debut novel A Hand to Hold in Deep Water.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 570

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a summer poem.

How I Sold the Cover of My Latest Book as an NFT and What I Learned

How I Sold the Cover of My Latest Book as an NFT and What I Learned

When faced with the difficult task of promoting his novel Catch 42: A novel about our future, writer Felix Holzapfel had a wild idea: Why not use non-fungible tokens?

Bridget Morrissey: On Taking the Leap from YA to Adult Fiction

Bridget Morrissey: On Taking the Leap from YA to Adult Fiction

Author Bridget Morrissey explains the differences in her process for writing her first adult debut, Love Scenes, compared to her YA novels, what she wanted to explore in adult fiction, and more!

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Awdl Gywydd Winner

Learn the winner and Top 10 list for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the awdl gywydd.

Kara Holden: On Adapting a Person's Life for the Screen

Kara Holden: On Adapting a Person's Life for the Screen

Screenwriter Kara Holden shares her experience with writing the script for Clouds on Disney+, and how she decided what moments of her subject's life to include in the film.

4 Tips for Setting a Novel in a Place You Don’t Know Well

4 Tips for Setting a Novel in a Place You Don’t Know Well

You want to write your story in a place you're not familiar with, but how can you do it justice? Kim Hooper, author of No Hiding in Boise, has some tips.

Alka Joshi: On Allowing Characters to Inform Your Sequel

Alka Joshi: On Allowing Characters to Inform Your Sequel

In this article, historical fiction author Alka Joshi explains how the characters from her first book inspired the sequel, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur, and how their story managed to surprise her.