From the dawn of mankind the most innovative among us have created implements to hasten our task and lessen the burden of our work. Simple tools made it easier to light a fire, hunt for food or eventually grow our own crops. As our sophistication grew, so did the number and complexity of our tools.
The industrial age ushered in a cornucopia of new vessels for productivity. Yet even this boon was nothing in comparison to the bounty we are reaping in the information era. The proliferation of electronics, software and services has given us access to tools that those living merely 20 years ago could only dream about.
Each advancement of technology brought with it the promise of advancing our proficiency, and then fell crashing on the rocks of distraction, endless maintenance and steep learning curves.
So it is with some trepidation that I share the tools I have chosen to use as I further my literary journey. I could regale you with tales of old cliche’s the steadfastly cling to the notion that a shoddy craftsperson blames their tools instead of their underdeveloped skill. Yet that would be neither enlightening nor interesting.
It is true that my tools won’t make me a better writer. They won’t paint the landscape of my story, or breathe life into the characters that walk it. Yet I have found that tools can have evoke a visceral impact on my propensity to engage in the creative process.
I can scarcely imagine the daunting task faced by writers of yore. Sitting down on a cold and dim night huddled around a flickering candle, clasping at a dirty sheaf of worn paper and laboriously inking their pens. In spite of my love for words, such a task would seam more like slow torture. Each thought extracted through screams of pain and every plot twist aching through broken bones.
My tools to make writing a joy
I used to use a kludgey set of tools that made writing a chore. Though admittedly not quite as arduous as my imaginings of yesteryear, I never felt my tools calling me to write more. It was always the yearning from within my soul that drew me back to the keyboard for one more dance along the floor of imaginings.
A few weeks ago I completely revamped my writing toolkit, and even as I type these words I can hear my tools sing to me. They call my name. The buttery smooth keys delight my fingertips like a mild narcotic. The beautifully inviting font begs me to write just one more paragraph. To fill in the blank space with it’s monospaced beauty.
And then there is my software setup, which gives me the ability to write when my muse calls, and tinker with technology when she is sleeping.
My Writing Implements
I have two computers I use for writing.
A Macbook Pro Retina, which I use while at home, and thoroughly enjoy it’s expansively beautiful screen.
I also have an 11” Macbook Air, which I use when I’m traveling. It’s small enough to fit into almost any bag, and since the keyboard is the same size as it’s larger brethren, it makes a perfect typewrite.
After much research I finally settled on MacJournal for my writing software. I was sorely tempted by IA Writer, which is a fabulous piece of software, and really nails the writing focus. Sadly though, the file management needed to write regularly across multiple different blogs just isn’t strong enough. I found myself spending too much time making folders and naming files and… you get the picture.
MacJournal balances simplicity, with organization. It’s not a blogging focused tool, but does allow exporting to blogs. Giving me a clean separation between writing and publishing. Two activities which engage vastly different parts of my brain.
In addition, MacJournal has one of the best focused writing views of any app out there, with the possible exception of IA Writer.
I spoiled myself, and sprung for the gorgeously enticing Nitti Light font, that is used with IA Writer. Be sure to get the style pack that includes the bold and italic versions, so you can seamlessly emphasize your words.
To keep everything in sync across my computers I have dropbox setup, and my MacJournal master file from both computers points to the same Dropbox location. So far this seems to be working well, though I can imagine that sync is a tricky technical challenge, so I keep quite a number of backups, just in case.
The most beautiful thing about my tools though has to be the keyboard on the Macbook. Absolutely fabulous! The best keyboard I’ve ever used. I wasn’t kidding when I said my fingertips danced with delight. Even now it feels as though I can keep writing, if only to sate the need to caress just one more key.
Tools allow the story
As much as I love the tools I’ve chosen, tools do not create the story, they only allow it to flow. Stories are created deep within us. It’s only by plumbing the depths of our greatest joys and despairs, our deep or our fleeting relationships, and the crazy world of our imaginings that we can craft a story to dazzle the world.
May your tools be a blessing. May they speed your words and fortify your resolve.