It's a somewhat geeky one, though, and will require you to read the instructions. Are you listening, Laura Eno? Stick with me, though, and I can GUARANTEE that you will write faster. Seriously, you WILL write faster. I'm so confident of this that I will WRITE IN ALL CAPS again.
Are you ready? Want the magic mojo? Want the zombie juice, the secret sauce, the +5 Potion of Productivity?
It's called AutoHotKey. It's a free program that you can download from http://www.autohotkey.com/.
So, you're thinking, enough with the hyperbole, Tony, what does it actually do?
AutoHotKey is a programmable automation utility. Now, calm down, you creative types... yes, I used the word "programmable". I didn't call it "customizable", because, although it certainly is customizable, you need to actually edit a script with some funky looking semicolons, colons, dashes and case-sensitive modifiers.
Is it worth the trouble? Oh, yes. Oh my sweet coffee-dripping loveliness, yes.
The program will let you launch programs, change window settings, perform complex actions and do all kinds of things with a single keystroke. But that's not important to you as a writer, is it? No, I know it's not. What I promised you is a way to write FASTER. Well, here it comes.
AutoHotKey will also serve as a customizable text expander. Any long string of text can be referenced by a very short string, which will auto-expand as you type. If your protagonist's name is Christopher, you could just type "C". No need to click a button, no need to do anything but keep typing. As soon as you press the space bar, AutoHotKey will expand "C" into "Christopher". You typed one character and eleven appeared - BOOM, you're 11X faster.
As you write your novel, how many times do you write your character's names? AutoHotKey would be worth it for that alone, but you can also replace other commonly used words, like this, said, you, will, that, and so on.
Here's part of the AutoHotKey script I have running right now:
:CR:tAG::the Avant Guardian
This script will automatically turn this:
“Y’ll never get away w/ ts, pv!” tAG sa, “tg wi stop y!”
Pv laughed, his voice rasping. “Tg is doomed! Th trap I set for him wi rid me of th pestilential obstacle once and for all! Now, my dear,” he sa, turning to pw, “I believe y and I have some unfinished business…”
“You’ll never get away with this, Professor Verbosity!” the Avant Guardian said, “the Grammarian will stop you!”
Professor Verbosity laughed, his voice rasping. “The Grammarian is doomed! That trap I set for him will rid me of that pestilential obstacle once and for all! Now, my dear,” he said, turning to Parenthesis Woman, “I believe you and I have some unfinished business…”
I actually typed 214 characters, but 317 characters appeared on the screen. Instantly, I typed 48% faster. Over the course of a long work, the ability to replace long strings of characters with short ones is a real time saver.
You can set up MS-Word to do auto-expansion, too, but if you don't use Word, you're stuck. Besides, you can use AutoHotKey for e.mails and other types of documents, too. Any word you type often is fair game to be automated. For example, this line in the script:
Means I only have to type "nt@" and "email@example.com" magically appears. Three characters becomes 21. It works on webpages, in e.mails, documents, any text entry field on your screen.
Granted, it takes a little while to get used to it, and the coding requires a bit of patience to make the expanded text appear only when you want it. However, this is one writing tool that y shd nt B w/t.
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