Tools of the Trade

You don’t really need much to write. Time, a writing medium, gumption. But  there are a few tools I use to make everything a bit easier on me. On the off-chance it makes things easier for you, here are my tools of the trade.

Interviews

I use a Zoom H1 Handy Recorder to record all my interviews. high quality sound in a tight package that's easy on batteries.

I use a Zoom H1 Handy Recorder to record all my interviews. high quality sound in a tight package that’s easy on batteries.

I use a Zoom H1 Handy Recorder. It takes a micro SD card and 1 AA battery. The sound quality is excellent, it’s small, the battery is long-lasting and it’s really easy to use. I keep a 2 GB card in it and occasionally clean off old files from it. I rarely use it to play back tape, but the one time I had to, it worked out just fine after a little fiddling.

If it’s a phone interview, I plug my Olympus telephone pickup into the Line In jack in my recorder, and stick the mic side in my phone-side ear. Perfect way to record an interview over the phone. Picks up both sides of the conversation.

I usually take notes on my iPad using the Notes app equipped with a Zagg Profolio Keyboard (mine is older than the one linked; I know of a newer model that wasn’t sturdy enough and the iPad slipped out regularly so your mileage may vary). The bluetooth keyboard is responsive and has a very long battery life (mine always lasts at least 3 months before needing to be plugged in for a recharge). Downside is it’s a bit heavy; certainly heavier than a Macbook air.

When I’m going old-school, I prefer a 6″ x 9″ top-coil steno notepad. If I’m out reporting, I’ll take a skinnier 4″ x 8″ reporter notepad though.

Transcribing

I use VLC for Mac, and depending on the person I’m transcribing step down the speed one to two levels.

I type into Word for Mac 2011. My second choice is TextEdit. It seems to correct my typos better than Word, but it does so without telling me, which can be an issue. I haven’t used it since upgrading my OS to Mavericks but I assume the cloud feature would be useful.

Writing

I type notes and write on the go with my iPad in a Zagg keyboard case.

I type notes and write on the go with my iPad in a Zagg keyboard case.

For short articles, I write in Word for Mac 2011. I write my blog posts directly into WordPress.

For longer projects, I love Scrivener.

When I’m writing at a coffee shop, it’s usually on my iPad with my Zagg keyboard (above).

Editing

I haven’t found anything that beats Track Changes in Word. Except maybe a red pen and a clear desk. (But that hardly ever happens anymore)

For collaborative projects, I share files with Google Drive.

Photography

I shoot with a Nikon D80, with fast primes or my cheap but handy kit lens.

I shoot with a Nikon D80, with fast primes or my cheap but handy kit lens.

The best camera is the one you have with you. That’s why most of the photos on this blog were snapped on my iPhone 4S.

But the photos are always better when I take the time to shoot with my old Nikon D80. Recently, I’ve been shooting with a borrowed 35mm f/1.8. Otherwise, I shoot with an 85mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.8 or the handy 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6.

I often edit in Adobe Photoshop CS5. But sometimes just Instagram.

2 Comments

  1. Derek

    Nothing beats a Saskatchewan Rouughrider pen on the back of a Kit Kat bar wrapper for a first draft. Finish by transfering the novel into Word Perfect for editing.

    For photos nothing can beat the Polaroid SL64 for fast near lifelike images. Be sure to wait before peeling off the sticking paper.

    Like

  2. Pingback: How to: Record your Mac’s screen (with video) | Zoey Duncan

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