A Writer's Toolbox
Posted: May 17, 2016
I first read about the idea of having a toolbox from Stephen King, in his book On Writing. Until then, I had a collection of notes and some things that could possibly pass as tools, but nothing organized.
"I want to suggest that to write to the best of your abilities, it behooves you to construct your own toolbox and then build up enough muscle so you can carry it with you."
-Stephen King, About Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Stephen King proposes a toolbox that concentrates mainly on elements of writing, such as vocabulary, grammar, verbs, adverbs, etc. These are definitely important, but I rapidly found that I needed more. So, my toolbox is a bit different and has grown to include many other elements. At this time, it contains:
- Equipment. This is the physical tools per say. It includes my computer and the software I use. I start writing in Scrivener and later switch to Microsoft Word as it is easier for beta readers and editors. I store most files on my home computer, but I am thinking of getting a laptop (maybe a Macbook). A good web browser is also very useful. I currently use Chrome. I also use a series of other tools, that other writer might or not need, such as Kindle Previewer, paint.net for basic graphic manipulations, as well as EditPlus and FileZilla for web development.
- Elements of writing. This includes vocabulary, grammar, quotes, as well as information about each step of the writing process (like tips, reminders and resources) . It takes the form of a series of lists, kept in Scrivener.
- Settings information. This is important because I have several worlds and each have unique particularities. I keep a Scrivener file for each world, where I have many notes, including timelines, list of characters, cities, technologies, professions, etc. I also have a collection of maps, mostly hand drawn.
- References. This includes links and bookmarks to useful websites, about writing and services such as editing, marketing, etc. When I find a website in a magazine or an article, I add it to my bookmarks. I have a fairly complex bookmark folder on writing in Chrome, and it continues to grow.
- Contacts. A good email software will come in handy, especially to keep contacts and past communications organized. I keep information about my beta readers, editors and partners here. I currently use the tool given to me by my hosting provided, which is Fatcow. Not the best of tools, but since I am only beginning, it is alright. I might have to change later.
The hardest was to figure out how to organize everything. Now that I have the semblance of a structure, I find myself routinely looking into my toolbox for ideas, tips, what to do next, what not to do, etc. I am certain most writers have something similar. It would be interesting to compare.