Everybody has different tools they need to get work done. Some people need a beautiful view, others need a sharp HB pencil, whilst someone else might only be able to work in complete isolation. We are creatures of habit after all, and having our essential tools around us are a huge help in getting on with things.
Here are five things I like to have in my arsenal if I want to be at my writing-best:
Music is a real opinion divider when it comes to productivity, but I just don’t do as well without it. Especially when I am writing fiction, when the music helps to set the mood. I have a writing playlist that has all of the songs I could ever want to help scenes I’m writing. Or if I’m writing a travel blog, it’ll be a song that reminds me of that particular trip. I just flick around until I find something appropriate and get writing.
There’s something about putting my earphones and cutting out the sounds of the clock clicking, the dog snoring or the cars passing the house that helps to submerge me into my work.
I love Scrivener. At first I was pretty dubious about anything that wasn’t Microsoft Word. After all, I thought, how much more do you need than a blank word document to work on?
On a whim I took a thirty day free trial with Scrivener and soon found it indispensable. It provides a clean, easy to use document to just get on and write. The point of Scrivener is to make it easy for you to break down a piece of work into chunks: not just chapters, but all the way down to scenes or pieces of dialogue.
I particularly like how easy it is to make character and setting sketches, and to add pictures onto your cork boards. I find writing characters easier with visual aids, so this is hugely helpful. It’s allowed me to create a folder within my project called Random (I know, original) which I open up to type down anything that comes to mind that won’t fit into a scene or chapter.
I’m also a sucker for not finishing until I’ve hit a target. You can add a target for a particular session (which can count as one day, or simply the time between opening and closing Scrivener) and for the manuscript as a whole. A colourful line shows you how close you are to your target.
At the moment my draft target is a strange green/yellow line heading towards 90,000. Once I reach it I’ll whack it up another 20,000 (no point aiming too high in one go!). The targets are easy to change so you can whack in what you expect to be able to do in a day. There is something very satisfying about having the trill of the alert when you reach your day’s target!
3. A notebook
Whether it’s just to doodle because my brain is working too fast or too slow to get words on the page, or I want to map out a location, come up with a blog title or to brainstorm an idea, having a notebook to hand can be really useful at times.
(note the wonky i key on my Mac keyboard. That plus a loose h and u are certainly not an essential tool for writing)
I can’t do anything without tea (English breakfast, peppermint, sweet rhubarb tea if I’m feeling very fancy), and writing is no different.
Whether it’s to make a cup of tea, walk the dog, wander around the garden, have a bath, taking a break is essential for me getting some work done. It helps to stretch my body out, as I have a dodgy neck and no doubt a dodgy seating posture, and helps my mind to process things. I’m also better at dialogue and thinking up things when I’m walking, so the movement usually helps rattle out an idea that’s been chewed up in the cogs somewhere.
Let me know in the comments what your essential tools for writing are. Do we share any of the same?