Examining Your Writer’s Toolkit

Can you imagine writing a novel before there were computers? Or typewriters? Can you imagine writing a novel completely by hand? I certainly can’t and wouldn’t want to. Thank goodness for being a writer and born in the time we live (as far as technology goes)!

Now that I’m in the middle of a new project, I took the opportunity to update some of the tools I use. Okay, just one. But that has me thinking about writing tools and tricks in general. So, I thought I’d share with you some of my essential tools and tricks for writing and story building. Some of them are digital and some of them aren’t. The internet is great. But, sometimes to get ideas, you have to get out into the world and experience it firsthand.

  1. I made a small purchase two months ago. And no, it wasn’t a new computer (though I really want one!). Instead, I purchased Scrivener. I’ve only purchased one other app in my life (it’s the severe weather app from a local news station. Tornadoes, people). But, I’ve heard such good things about Scrivener from some of my other writer friends that I figured I needed to take it for a test drive. It’s not expensive as far as programs go ($45) and it packs a lot of features into a really simple format.And so far the verdict is: Scrivener is a great tool! It’s a database for all of your notes and it works kind of like a Pinterest board. I can put images, maps, and create categories for a variety of things like characters and places. It’s easy to toggle between everything and write at the same time. Right now, I’m creating characters and downloading images from Pinterest and plugging them in so I know what each person looks like. And I can write my story in the app too which will put all my notes right at my finger tips. J.K Rowling spreadsheets ain’t got nothing on this! 🙂 (Kidding. I love J.K. Rowling BTW). So far, I’ve written about 7000 words of NightWind and when I need to, I just flip over to my outline or a character to make sure I have the details right. What a lifesaver!
  2. Pinterest is a writer’s most beloved tool. What did we ever do without it? I’ve created character sketches and theme boards for my projects using this fantastic website. If you’re not on there, then get on there now and start looking. I’m convinced you can find anything you want on there. Here’s a look back at a post I wrote about using Pinterest. And you can get a peek at the design/story aesthetic that is the inspiration for NightWind!
  3. Okay. This one isn’t a digital tool at all. But, I’ve found SO much inspiration going to art shows around KC this year. There’s also something really special being among all that creative energy. It is SO motivating. Last weekend my boyfriend and I went to the Art Westport art fair. It’s a great group of local and local-ish artists showcasing their work. I found one artist whose work fit the color scheme and feel of the cover I’m envisioning for NightWind. PLUS, I got a great idea for a character detail for my heroine. Bonus. I just stood in her tent and kept turning in circles, taking it all in. I excitedly told her that her style and colors matched the vision for my next cover. She still probably thought I was nuts, though. Regardless, Nothing beats using the world around you for inspiration. Art shows are a great way to do this.
  4. Travel. I’ve written several times (check out this one and this one if you like) about how I use travel to enhance my writing. Travel was even the source of inspiration for NightWind. In 2016, I went on an amazing trip to Japan and some elements of that trip will make it into the project.
  5. Reading. You have to read to be a good writer. There’s no way around it. It’s so important to read in the genre you want to be writing it. You’ll learn lessons. Most likely if you’re a writer, you already enjoy reading. I find reading for research to be recreational AND purposeful at the same time. Luckily.

Having a well-defined toolkit is essential for writing. It will help you overcome those bumps in the road along the way to a complete story and it will help you as you’re creating the characters and building the world in which they live. Research, world building and character creation are some of the most fun parts of the writing process. They’re the easy parts. The writing is the tough step. And of course, there’s the editing and rewriting. What are some essentials in your writer’s toolkit? Please feel free to share in the comments!