The Tools for the Job

I am a bit of a nerd. Ok, more than just a bit. I have a lot of hobbies and for every hobby there is the sub-hobby of studying the craft and the tools involved in making me the best I can be at that hobby.

This is one of those things that I think a lot of artists have hangups about. They don’t want to be asked about their process, in part because it is their own and they don’t think that the tools of the trade are what make them the artists that they are. In many respects this is entirely true. Not every monkey with pigment and fresh plaster will be able to put together the Sistine Chapel, but without knowledge of those same pigments and fresh plaster, even Michelangelo fails to reproduce his own work.

Writing, just like any other art, has tools of the trade and I’m not just talking about vocabulary and grammar. When I sit down to write, the implement I’m going to use to do the writing is just important to me as the state of mind that I am in. A tool that gets in the way of the process is just as likely to spoil my mood or distract me as the TV, radio, or writer’s block. For me writing is hard and I like to make it as easy as I can. Different software, or physical implements, make different processes resonate for me, so I use more than one writing application.

Scrivener is my favorite. I love the flexibility, the full screen mode, and all the tools that are built in to help me organize my story as a story. I don’t have to endlessly scroll looking for that one bit I wanted to look back on, not like I did back when I wrote in MS Word, because everything is stored neatly in Scenes, Chapters, and Binders. It is a delight to use, but…

WriteRoom is faster and less intimidating when I just want to get words out. Sometimes in the rush of inspiration I don’t know if the dialog or scene I’m piecing together will ever become a part of something else, I just know that I need to get it out of me. WriteRoom lets me do that with minimal fuss. Then again…

MacJournal is really designed to better organize the daily brain dumps that I need to keep the mental static at bay. I used to be a laid back no worries type of guy. Then I got a full-time corporate job, a mortgage, a wife, a geriatric dog, a kid, and high blood pressure. Now I worry.  Doing a daily journal has helped me to just let all that out and forget about it when I hit Cmd + S.  Sometimes though…

iA Writer works better for me because I’m on the go, or my laptop is tied up doing something else. This is the best mobile writing application for the iPad as far as I am concerned and I’ve tried many. But, you know…

Nebulous Notes comes in real handy when I don’t have my iPad or computer handy. For whatever reason, iA Writer is not a Universal app, but Nebulous Notes does a commendable job filling in and gives me easy access to…

Dropbox, which I wouldn’t be as productive without. I would hate to lose it now that I have been using for the last year or so. Not too long ago I bought an upgraded laptop (with the intention of selling the older one), but on a whim I decided to strip the older one down to only writing software. This has put my writing productivity through the roof because I don’t feel hassled to unplug my Cintiq and external hard drives from my primary computer when I want to go sit somewhere other than my desk to write. Dropbox makes this a clean and simple process, keeping my writing projects synched between both boxes without any effort on my part.

So there it is, my writing toolbox all laid out.

Leave a Reply