A frequently heard manta among writers is “hone your craft”, and it’s true–writing is a craft, just like woodworking or glass blowing. And just like those crafts, you need the proper tools in order to bring your artistic vision to life. Hence, the writer’s toolbox.
Of course, many of a writer’s tools are intangible. We need things like a solid understanding of grammar, punctuation, and the many nuances of language. If we decide to write in a dialect we must research that area of the world, watch and listen to native speakers, perhaps even track down someone from that area to answer our questions about local colloquialisms and syntax. In fact, a strong tendency toward research is probably a writer’s greatest tool. We must understand what we know, and what we need to learn. The devil’s in the details, as they say.
That’s all well and good, but what about the tangible tools? First and foremost, you need a comfortable place to write. It doesn’t have to be a desk, the location only needs to allow your words to flow. For years I wrote propped up in bed, and then while seated on a stool at the kitchen counter. Some like crowded coffee shops, others a silent library. Either way, a good location is essential.
Once your writing space is secure, you need to decide how you will write. Pen and paper, quill and parchment, on a laptop? In this day and age you will certainly save a few steps if you utilize some modern technology (check out Kevin Hearne writing with an old fashioned typewriter here.) but there is something to be said for getting the words out longhand. As for software I use regular old Microsoft Word, but I have many friends who swear by Scrivener. To each their own.
In my opinion, the best, most important a writer can have is networking. Whether online or in person, getting out there and meeting other writers is the best thing you can do for your craft, and your writing career. It’s how you will learn about conferences and events, writers groups, and other events. And the amount of beta readers and editors and cover designers you can meet at one decent-sized event beats hours of internet searching any day.
What’s in your writer’s toolbox? Tell us in the comments!
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