NOTE: I don't post to this blog super-duper often anymore, because I'm busy writing, well, books. (Read more about that here.) For more up-to-date, day-to-day ramblings, visit my Facebook page.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Writer Wednesday: Tools of the Trade

When I was a kid, I wore tennis shoes all the time. My reasoning was that you never know when you might need to make a quick getaway. Operating under that same mentality, I still like my life to be small and portable, to travel without checking luggage. I want to take the most important things with me, without a lot of hassle.

Because you just never know.

So I love tech that serves double or triple or quadruple duty. Early on I embraced the Walkman, then the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad. They allow me to take not only my music and calendar but even my writing anywhere, even if I'm on the run. (Was I a con artist in a former life? Why is this a thing?) Of course, the ultimate portable writing tools are the notebook and pen, but notebooks get heavy, they fill up, and more notebooks must be purchased. And the notebook doesn't give me that blessed technology that I embraced at age ten, the keyboard.

So when I discovered last week that Microsoft had released Word for the iPad, I kind of screamed. In a good way.

It's a dream come true: store my manuscript in the cloud; call it up on my iPad whenever I like; send it back to the cloud; and when I get home to my laptop, there it is, edited and looking just as fabulous as ever. No formatting issues, no tinkering, nothing. Just seamless.

I'm not writing an advertisement for Word for iPad, because frankly, I don't care if anyone else uses it or not. My point is: When you find a good writing tool, welcome it. Splurge on those fantastic gel pens that you can only find in the fancy stationer's store. Buy that book of maps. Go on that research trip. Get the tool that works for you and say, I'm investing in my writing.

I realize that might not be true. You may be just BS-ing your way to a pretty new laptop that you'll use to buy new Sperry shoes and post pictures of your cat on Facebook. But I hope not.

I always talk about writing in my office with my door closed and my cup of coffee beside me, as if that's the only way I can work. But recently I had about an hour and a half to kill after dropping my kid at a choir rehearsal before the concert began. I brought the iPad with me, knowing full well I'd probably not work.

But somehow, I did. My tools were right there, and the environment was so novel that I didn't sit and agonize. I just hammered out the next scene. And I even got a little bit of a Real Writer thrill: Didn't Hemingway and Fitz hang around in Parisian bars, scribbling away in a haze of blue smoke and Scotch fumes? I'm just like them! Well. In the lobby outside the concert hall, but still.

Tools are important. Find the ones that work for you. Get them. Use them. Love them. Your writing is worth it. 

image by Petar Milošević (own work) and reproduced under this Creative Commons license. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


  1. It's ironic that I just read a post by Amy VanDerwater in which she talks about how much she loves writing longhand, the sound of the pages turning, the beauty of the black ink on the creamy paper. To each his own. I have days where all I want is a mechanical pencil and my little notebook with graph paper (Why graph paper? Who knows. I just like it.). Other days, you couldn't tear me away from my computer. I'm not as tech savvy as you, but I enjoyed this post. Thanks.

  2. I do love writing longhand for some things--journals, especially, or stream-of-consciousness. Fiction, not so much. I still love the look and feel of real paper, and I really salivate in stationery stores with all their beautiful notebooks. :)