Tools of the Trade

Like most writers I know, I have spent a lot of time evaluating the “tools of the trade”. These range from pencils, pens, inks, paper (of all sizes), desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, Windows, Mac, writing software, blah, blah, blah. It’s endless, isn’t it?

I wanted to take a few minutes today to talk about the tools that I have come to use on a regular basis.

Pencils – I don’t use them.

Pens – I’m a bit of a pen nut. I have a collection, albeit modest, of fountain pens. My “go-to” pens for writing (when I know I’m going to be doing it for a while) are equipped with fine nibs. The pens I lean on the most are:

  1. Pilot Vanishing Point
  2. Lamy 2000
  3. TWSBI Mini, and sometimes the 580 model

Inks – I’ve been a fan of the Noodler’s line of inks for quite a while now. I prefer the fast drying varieties. I’ve also managed to get my hands on a few Pilot Iroshizuku inks (Kon-Peki is my favorite).

Paper – I prefer A5 sized notebooks, but have a few of the standard “Composition” notebooks that I’m working on filling. I’m a BIG fan of the Field Notes small pocket notebooks, because they’re easy to carry and I’ve used them many times to jot down quick character notes or overheard bits of dialogue that I want to use. I stay clear of the Moleskine notebooks because their paper isn’t very good, even with regular pens and inks.

Desktop – I used to have desktop PCs that ran various flavors of Linux over the years (Red Hat, Linux-Mandrake, Debian, SuSE, and Ubuntu). I moved away from all of that because I got tired of trying to stay up on the latest in tech and hacking around with the OS and machines.

Laptop – I have a Macbook Pro that is my machine of choice. I like the fact that I turn it on and it just works, allowing me to get to my work without having to fuss over anything else (e.g. updates, anti-virus, Adobe Flash, etc.).

Tablet – I have an old iPad 2 that has served me well for a very long time now.  It doesn’t weigh much and finds its way into my bag when the Macbook decides to stay at home.

Windows/Mac – Really? You still feel the need to ask? I use Windows at work, and that is under protest.

Writing Software – This is a big one, because we all have our likes and dislikes about one product or another. I’ve tried a lot of them and have come to the conclusion that Scrivener is the tool for me. It helps that there is an iOS version, which allows me to start/continue work on my iPad (or iPhone), which will sync to my Macbook version of Scrivener the next time I open it up. I have also come to appreciate Google Docs, and use it as the starting point for all of my blog posts.

Blah, Blah, Blah – This is a fun category, and not just because I’m a Rush fan (if you are, you’ll get it). It’s the one where I get to play a bit more. This category includes the stuff I use to enhance my writing experiences.

  • Music – typical writing “playlists” include a variety of progressive rock (Rush, Saga, Devin Townsend), 80’s pop and rock (because the 80’s totally ruled. Totally.), and electronic or trance (Jean Michel Jarre, Deamau5, Kraftwerk)
  • Other Sound – I have an app called Noizio, which has a nice variety of sounds that I can use individually, or in combination, to build a sort of sonic wall of noise to help me block out the world, without having to get caught up in bass line or drum groove. My favorite combination is a mix of October Rain, Coffee House, and Thunderstorm.
  • Tardis – that’s right. I said it. And I’ll say it again: Tardis. I’ve got one of those little Tardis toys that lights up and it sits on my desk at home. When I sit to write, on goes the light. It’s a little visual cue (outside of the glowing screen in front of me) that I’m there to write and nothing else.
  • Fender, Squier, Gibson when I need to boost my energy, or if the words just aren’t coming to me, I’ll pick up a guitar or bass and play a few songs. I’ve been focused more on the bass lately, since it’s my favorite instrument I’ve ever learned to play.

I don’t really have much of a workflow. Any notes that I collect in my Field Notes notebook (or whichever notebook I happen to be using that day) are transferred into a Scrivener file (or Google Docs file if it’s a blog thing) and then it’s off to the races.

I would be interested to hear what tools you use. Does Microsoft Word give you everything you need? Do you dig the Open Source community and therefore gravitate to something like Open Office? Are you straight-up Google for everything, or are you one of those Mac freaks who actually uses Pages?

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