Now that I have a real desk (read: one with drawers to put stuff in), I have a pretty awesome drawer of “writing tools.” It’s full of notepads and fun sticky notes and exciting pens. My passport and a really old iPod also call the drawer home, and I realized writing tools don’t have to have anything to do with the actual act of writing. They can even be things that take me away from the computer, which one might think is the opposite of what I should be doing.
Instead of writing a post about sticky notes and pens and craft books, I want to write about those tools that don’t involve writing at all. (Don’t get me wrong, I love craft books and pens and accessories. A lot. Seriously.)
Tool #1 – A Passport
Okay, so it doesn’t even have to be a passport. It can be anything that gets you somewhere new. A car, a bicycle, a virtual reality headset (which makes me feel pukey…so not my favorite.) Getting out of your element can do magic for the creative mind. You don’t even have to go somewhere elaborate like Iceland or South Africa to find inspiration somewhere. I went to the middle of nowhere, Rural Minnesota and got the idea for my current WIP. Other than that idea, the destination was remarkably uninteresting (sorry, Rural Minnesota) but all that mattered was the inspiration I found there.
Tool #2 – Headphones
Ever since I was little, I had a pretty wild taste in music. I would shift from punk bands like Rancid to mainstream country like Garth Brooks without batting an eye. As I got older, things only got weirder. But I found that new music can do wonders for my mind. If I’ve been listening to a lot of Anti-Flag, it’s going to show through in my writing.
Sometimes “The Modern Rome Burning” isn’t the right vibe for what I’m writing (even if it’s literally always been the right vibe for 2016). If I can’t find the mood for the scene or story, spending an hour or two on Spotify searching for the right playlist is worth the time. If you always listen to Top 40 pop, shifting to some indie folk might be the shift you need. And, as a bonus, sometimes you find a new favorite artist to listen to and expand your horizons!
Tool #3 – Fresh Air
I guess this kind of goes with Tool #1, but it also kind of doesn’t. Writing tends to be an indoor activity (not always, but most times.) If your writing starts feeling stale, maybe it’s the air in your room or apartment. My new apartment still smells a bit like the last tenant’s cigarettes. Since it’s too cold to leave the windows open, I’ve been taking any excuse to go outside. Getting the mail, taking out the trash, or walking to the PokeStop down the road clears my head and freshens my ideas in a matter of minutes.
Opening a window may work too, if you don’t live in frigid New Hampshire where it’s 15 degrees.
There are other things too that work to spice up one’s writing. Playing with the cat, going on a date, cooking a nice meal all use the senses and emotions we need to create worlds. So don’t worry if you skip a day writing to do something else, because that something else could enhance your work. Besides, taking a break is a good thing!
What kind of things do you use as writing tools to be productive and successful?