May 17, 2014

10 Essential Writing Tools. ~ Ashleigh Hitchcock


I’m a writer.

Just like anyone who handcrafts a project for work, I have a toolbox. My writer’s tool chest is a collection of wondrous inventions that support my creativity.

Some of these tools may seem hopelessly old fashioned, but so is writing. People first began recording their thoughts, in writing, about 5000 years ago.

The oral tradition started turning into a written history of mankind.

Writing is an important vehicle for communicating, self-expression and creating change. Preserving our ideas, by writing them down, helps us solve problems and move deeply into a brainstorm.

Writing is one of the fundamental foundations of education, because it is a practical way to share ideas with others.

These are the contents of my writer’s treasure box.

1. Pencil. I have always loved pencils. I adore the scratching sound they make across the paper. I love holding the hexagonal grip as I use my hand to transfer my ideas to paper. I love the grinding noise of the manual pencil sharpener. The eraser is my favorite part—it celebrates the impermanence of words. Plus, yellow is my favorite color.

2. Note cards. I can compose many different thoughts on note cards. They are small, so I can take them with me everywhere, and it’s surprising how many words can fit on a single card. It’s nice to have a scrap to write on just in case I want to document a flash of brilliance. If I am writing a longer piece, I use several note cards and number them. The best part: Once a piece is published, it’s super satisfying to rip the first draft on the note cards in half, and recycle them.

3. Lists. I am a constant writer of lists. I keep them in my pockets, on sticky notes, in my composition book and all over the house. I get a lot done because my list reminds me to do it. A list is a perfect place to store ideas. All the guts of my writing originate as a list.

4. Thesaurus. This may be my most useful tool. I have a thesaurus on my computer desktop and an old Rodget’s Thesaurus in my kitchen. I look at both constantly. One of the biggest obstacles, in writing, is finding the perfect words. The thesaurus is a brilliant invention, grouping similar words together. My thesaurus saves me from suffering writer’s block.

5. Typewriter. I don’t actually own a typewriter, that’s old-fashioned. I use the modern day equivalent. With technological advances, computers and IPhones have replaced the typewriter. I love my Mac. Microsoft Word and spell check make my writing a piece of cake. WordPress is my latest favorite editing tool.

6. Elements of Style by: Strunk & White. Hard-fast rules excite me. They’re dependable and I can count on them. That’s why I love my grammar stylebook. It contains all of the rules for using correct grammar. Originally known as The Little Book, to William Strunk’s college students, its genius is the abbreviated simplicity. Elements of Style is a must have on any writer’s bookshelf.

“Elements of Style contains rich deposits of gold.” ~ E.B. White

7. Curiosity and imagination. Without these, I wouldn’t need to be writer. I love researching new ideas. I am a daydreamer. Writing is a terrific way to articulate the contemplations and feeling inside of me.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ~ Ernest Hemingway.

8. Life experiences. I have always enjoyed an exciting life. I learned, early on, how to take calculated risks, so I was never afraid to try new things or talk to unusual people. When I was in college I caught a dreadful case of wanderlust and adventure became my middle name. My life has become a collection of stories.

9. Community of writers & photographers. One of my finest talents is building community. I love people and celebrating my friends’ mad skills. I am intrigued by the passions of others and have a knack for connecting people whose gifts will complement each other. In my network of writing buddies, we act as cheerleaders, sharing and editing each other’s work.

Pairing great images with our writing is important. It’s crucial to either have great photography skills or be best friends with someone who does. Collaboration is the new competition.

10. Venue. I need a place to share my writing. I have happened upon a perfect place, where I feel like my writing makes a difference in the world, by being of benefit to others. The elephant journal! There are many places for writers to share their ideas. Many of my friends have their own blogs or write for other sites. Blogging is a faster way to share our writing than going through the process of traditional publishing, but books and magazines are awesome places to share too.

Writing is one of my best things. It fuels me and fires me up. I recommend it to anyone. Why not give writing a whirl?

If you’re a writer with mindful topics, submit a story to elephant journal.

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: flickr, wikimedia

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