Monday, April 4, 2016

What's in Your Toolbox?

Yesterday morning, as I cleaned up the kitchen in preparation for a brunch we would be having with friends, I found Tim's hammer and pliers resting on the kitchen counter. I'm not sure why these tools were in the kitchen; he hadn't used them recently. But Tim has a habit of not putting away his things. So I wasn't surprised to see them sitting on the counter. I was simply surprised that I hadn't put them away before then.

Of course, as I placed the tools into the box, the phrase "What's in your toolbox?" came to mind, most likely because of Capital One.

I don't have a physical toolbox, per se. I just use Tim's tools when I feel the need to construct or repair an item. But in my day to day life, I do a lot of fixing, and metaphorically, I guess I have several toolboxes.

One of those boxes is for writing, of course. And many people—most notably in my mind, Stephen King and Natalie Goldberg—have talked about what's in their toolboxes. To be honest, your best bet is to go pick up their books: On Writing, and Writing Down the Bones respectively. These two books should find a place of honor on your bookshelves if you're serious about writing. (I confess, though, that I only own On Writing. I've borrowed Writing Down the Bones from the library in the past.)

But let's say that you don't have space for more books. What then? Lucky for you we have this mighty wonderful tool (ha!) called the internet. And when I searched for "writer's tool box," I found, as expected, a wealth of information.

Does it do any good to list that toolbox here (King says there are six tools he keeps handy)? I don't think so. It's easy to find links that lead to good information. In fact, you can find the gist of what King says out there at places such as this and this, which means I've done some of the work for you. So what I will do is list what sorts of tools work for me (other than the craft-y info given by King and Goldberg).

My Six Tools:
1. Reserving time to write.
2. Having other people read my writing and give thoughtful feedback.
3. Discussing other writers' writing in a writing group.
4. Practicing my writing: the more I practice, the better I will become.
5. Writing down anything that pops into my mind, because most items will come back in some form in a story.
6. Exercising good grammar in my daily life.

I'm sure many of you are laughing at that last tool. How can grammar matter? I find it matters very much to always strive for the best grammar I can. Doing so makes stringing together strong sentences much easier.

And while I didn't include the following in my list of six tools, it's the one point that supersedes them all: Have fun. If I'm not enjoying what I'm doing, then there's no point in doing it.

Happy Writing!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love both of those books!! And couldn't agree more with your #4... practice is sooo important.