Options fall into two broad categories: digital and non-digital. Each tool is ideal for a different type of writing. I find that when I am stuck, changing to the more appropriate tool can turn things around. Here are five tools with distinct advantages (interestingly, 4 of 5 are non-digital; before I switched to iPhone, my BlackBerry would have been on the list, since the keys allowed me to write in long form with ease, which is sadly not the case with the iPhone):
The ultimate right-brain brainstorming tool, perfect for mind mapping, theme generation, experimenting with key messages, sketching out an agenda and room set-up for a workshop, or anything where visualizing the solution is as important as the words themselves. While normally used with a group, this is an amazing tool for solo work as well.
2. Large Notebook
Ideal for longer pieces, where thinking through the writing is required, and where the writing will require multiple sittings over a period of weeks or months. Such notebooks tend to age like wine does: some reveal themselves years later to contain beautiful words of wisdom, though some turn to vinegar! Either way, they are the workhorse of creative writing.
3. Small Notebook
Pocket size, a limited number of pages, easy to toss in your bag for an inspired moment. These are perfect for lists, precise thoughts, topics, titles, catch phrases, and concepts.
4. Scrap Paper
One of the biggest barriers writers face is wanting the first draft to be perfect, be it for lack of time to fear of failure. The proverbial “back of the envelope” has a liberating quality, making it clear to the writer that this is just a super rough draft, not a polished piece of writing.
I live on my laptop. It is my office, instrument, tool kit, dashboard, lifeline, and central organizing tool. It is my primary writing, design, research, social media, and entertainment device. I use it for PowerPoint, Word, and email—the holy trinity of creative writing tools in the digital era. It is a love-hate relationship, and life without it is impossible to imagine.
What are some of your favourite writing tools? Are they more old-school or new-age, or a combination of the two? I’d love to hear from you.
This post wraps up my 5 Things mini-series on writing. I hope you have enjoyed reading them. In case you missed my first two, you can read them here.