September 1 2016

My Writer’s ToolBox


No matter what task you plan to do, you must first gather the necessary tools to get the job done. Some would say all a writer needs is pen and paper, but I would have to disagree. I almost never write with pen and paper unless making a grocery list. Since I don’t really count grocery lists as writing, perhaps I should tell you about my writer’s toolbox and what tools I consider necessary to get the job done.

The most important tool for me is my computer. I currently use a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 as my portable computer. I chose it for the portability of it and the fact that is was not merely a tablet (though it can function as one). It is a full-fledged computer capable of running any computer software that I could run on a Windows desktop computer. It is very portable, and much lighter than any laptop I have used in the past. The battery life is so much better than any laptop anyone I know is using. While they must plug in to use their laptops for more than a few minutes, I can watch an entire movie without plugging in or write for hours. I rarely have to carry a cord with me unless I am traveling or going to a write-in for more than four hours, and even then I usually just put the cords in a zip-top bag and leave it in the car as a backup. It has a detachable keyboard that closes to protect it and thus acts as a cover. Oh, and my favorite thing about the keyboard, besides the fact that it comes in purple, is that the keyboard can be back-lit so I can type in the backseat of a darkened car or in a dimly lit bar. One less excuse not to write, right? Anyway, it took me a while to choose this laptop/tablet, but I am still happy with my choice even three years later. If it died tomorrow, I would replace it with whatever the latest version of the Surface Pro was at that time.

After the computer, my next most important and useful tool would have to be Scrivener. Scrivener is the most amazing writing software ever in my humble opinion. It helps me to stay focused and organized. You can learn all about it at and if you want to try it before you buy it for $40 (for the Windows version) they have a free 30 days of use trial. That is not 30 days in a row, but thirty days of actually opening the software. I will be the first to admit that Scrivener can be a tad daunting to get familiar with, but there are tons of helpful tutorials on YouTube to help you learn the tips and tricks. My favorite tutorials are those by The Scrivener Coach, Joseph Michael. Scrivener can help you outline, research, write and publish. It can do so much more than I know how to do with it. I learn new ways to use it all the time.

I also find that using bluetooth headphones for writing while out in public to be essential. Gotta love the no cords thing and they can connect with either my phone or my computer. I actually have two pairs one that is a tiny set of earbuds and another that is much larger (less portable) but does a better job of blocking out the noise around me while listening to music.

Another important tool for me is music. I keep a decent selection on my phone and have a playlist without words for writing, because sometimes hearing words while I am writing is distracting. It is amazing how the speed of the music helps me write faster. One of the best songs to help get me to write fast is Dueling Banjos, because when the tempo picks up, I write faster, and this song keeps getting faster and faster. There is a huge variety of songs in my writing playlist and the only rule is, no words in that list
Another tool in my Writer’s Toolbox is other writers. I have joined several groups that meet with varying frequency and purposes. One group gets together weekly to write. We have writing sprints where everyone is quiet and focused on writing for a set amount of time and then in between sprints we catch up on life events, talk about our novels and what we are struggling with, ideas for new projects and any difficulties we are having with our current work in progress. They are a fun group and sometimes that meeting time is the only writing I get done during the week.

I also need a Word Count Tracker of some sort because I am nerdy like that and need to see that I have made progress. I created a really cool one in Excel 5that is open on my computer almost all the time. I also share one that someone else created on Google Docs where we can check in and see how each member of the group is doing. The important thing about any word count tracker is remembering to actually use it.

I also include various writing craft books in my tool box. I don’t usually buy them, but rather check them out of the library and read the parts that pertain to whatever issue is causing me trouble at that time. I do have a few I have bought on my Nook and Kindle accounts, but I find that while I love to read fiction books in electronic format, I find that non-fiction books I prefer to read in the paper form.

While I don’t always carry my entire tool box around with me, I need all of my tools to write. Please let me know what you favorite writing craft books are. I would also love to know what is in YOUR writer’s tool box. (1,006 words)

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Posted September 1, 2016 by Karen Beidelman in category "Writing

About the Author

I am a writer, blogger, and bullet journaler who also likes to read, crochet, do genealogy, create forms in Excel and spend way too much time on YouTube. Hubby and I have been married for over 31 years and have 2 adult children, a couple of fish tanks, a pet rabbit and a pet snapping turtle. I'd love it if you subscribe so you don't miss reading what I've been up to. I hope you will stop by and read my blog regularly. Bring your friends.

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