My dad was a mechanic. He had several giant red toolboxes in his shop, another giant one at home, and a medium-sized one in his car. Each one was filled with a variety of tools he could use to fix any kind of vehicle.
Some of those tools I had never even heard of until he taught me how to use them. The crescent wrench especially came in handy when I learned bicycle repair and experienced flat tires that I had to fix. (Isaac, if you’re reading this, I’ve specifically used an anecdote to show you how one can be used.)
Writers need the same thing: a toolbox. We don’t need hammers or wrenches, though, but we can supply our toolbox with necessary tools for our success similar to a mechanic. What tools do we need? How do we build this Writer’s Toolbox?
1. You need a place to write.
What? Mechanics can’t fit their shops into a toolbox, so how does this relate?
You’re right, they can’t fit the place they work inside a toolbox, but they need a place to store that massive collection of tools. Don’t they? We need a place to store our tools, too.
The first thing a writer needs is somewhere to make the magic happen. This could be at a desk, at the kitchen table, or even on the couch. You choose where you are most comfortable, and set it up however you desire.
As you can see, I’ve chosen the couch as my place to write. It comes complete with things that are important to me:
- a place to set my drink
- a beautiful little clay pot my oldest son made me that I use for my chapstick
- a lamp for when the blinds behind me aren’t letting in enough light
- a couple blankets for when I get cold, one of which I crocheted specifically for my area
- a lap desk
- a place to set my box of pens and pencils
- a pillow for my back
Choosing what you’re surrounded by is the best thing about choosing your own writing space. You decide what should go there and what you’ll need.
2. You need your weapon… I mean sword… I mean pen. Oh, and paper…
Pen and paper? Are we back at school?
Don’t worry, this can translate to laptop if that’s what you prefer. You simply need some way to write down the ideas that are swimming in your head.
When I’m working with new ideas, I like to start with a pen and my writer’s notebook. This gives me a place to store my thoughts until I want to revisit them. I generally save typing things up for my first draft.
Writer’s notebooks are not a necessity, but they are incredibly valuable tools. (Find out more about writer’s notebooks here.) Whatever you choose to write with or write on is your choice, but make sure you have the tools ready for you when you want to write.
3. You need support.
Do you really need support?
Long answer, yes. Short answer, yes. Surrounding yourself with the support of others, including other writers, will help you become a better writer. It will also keep you motivated when you don’t think you can write anymore.
Not only will the help of others help us in our writing, but it will help us become more supportive of others. This cooperative environment enriches both sides, and everyone experiences the results.
Two major places to find this support:
- At home – family is a great place to start, especially the ones right under your roof (Searching for Support)
- Online – there are numerous Facebook groups and Twitter communities for writers of all levels (Community when writing a first draft)
4. You need resources.
What do you mean exactly?
At the end of each of my blog posts, I supply a list of resources that have helped me with that particular topic. I couldn’t do that if I wasn’t collecting them over time and adding them to my writing toolbox.
Your list depends on what you need. You should constantly be adding to your list since you never know when you might need that tool again.
Three main ones I use:
- Dictionary and Thesaurus (someone even mentioned an Emotion Thesaurus the other day in one of my Facebook groups)
- Writer’s Digest – a variety of articles related to all aspects of the writing process
- Craft books – there are so many out there to choose from
If you find a community of writers as mentioned above, then you will likely add new resources to your toolbox quite often.
What else can I stuff in my toolbox?
You are the writer, so choose what tools you need to be successful. I’ve also added other blogs to my toolbox because it’s interesting to see what other writers say.
You may even want to add different tools to help you throughout your journey in the the writing process or tools to help you avoid or overcome writer’s block.
You can stock up on books you love to show you what you aspire to achieve or books you dislike to show you what to avoid. You can even add books about specific career fields in order to help you build characters.
What do you store in your toolbox? Share with me in the comments below!
I’ve already listed several in this post for you, but here are a few more:
The Purdue OWL is helpful in several different types of writing formats.
Grammarist helps you when you’re not quite sure how to use specific grammar rules.
Corbett Harrison supplies excellent strategies for teaching writing in the classroom.
6 thoughts on “4 Essentials for a Writer’s Toolbox”
I’m really enjoying reading your blog posts. Great information. I think a lot of times I’m so used to using my own tools that I don’t think about it but you’ve mentioned some that I never thought about.
Thank you for sharing.
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I’m am enjoying your comments! Thank you!
Which tools do you use? Which ones had you never thought about before?
I love creating character boards on Pinterest. Story boards are fun too, though those look a little neglected next to all the awesome things that can go on a specific character’s board 😉 I keep those boards private for obvious reasons. But I do share my creatures (folklore) boards where I collect everything about the Fae I use in my writing.
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I’ve read about using Pinterest for character boards and story development. Excellent resource and visual!
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