The Tools of Writing

When most people hear this phrase, they think about the intangible tools of writing; plot, characterization, tension, etc. But I want to talk about the actual, physical tools of writing.


These are probably one of the most critical tools you can have. There’s something about writing your thoughts in a notebook that’s just so different than typing them. You process everything better. Your notebook is where you write down random ideas, things about characters, your plots, your brainstorming; everything but your final plot and actual story writing.

Now, when purchasing a notebook for your writing, it’s important that you don’t make the same mistake I did: buy a pretty notebook that’s totally not practical. The big pages make a huge difference, for me at least. It may be different for you, but I’ve fallen back into just using regular composition notebooks. But really, you just need the notebook that fits you.

If you have more than one large scale project (like me) it can be helpful to have a notebook for each one. These are my notebooks for Age of War, Magic Stones, and a series I haven’t got to work on in a while, The Phoenix Trilogy.

And, because I have fallen into the trap myself, be mindful about how many notebooks you use at once. It can get very confusing when you know you wrote something down but can’t remember where you wrote it down.

Yes, I know. I DO have a problem. I just really like notebooks. And these are only the ones in use right now.


This may seem trivial, but having a pen you like to write with can make brainstorming for hours much more bearable. My personal favorite are Pilot G-2 07 pens.


Again, seemingly trivial but important. In a page full of cramped writing, they can make you remember that one super important idea. If you have different colored highlighters, you can sort things like what I do with the What If questions in my post Developing Your Ideas.

Index Cards

These are the most helpful little beasties ever. I used to tease my older brother for using index cards for everything, but they can make life so much easier. Here are a few ways you can use them:

  • Arranging scenes. If you have a list of scenes, but don’t know what order they should go in, write down each scene on a card and any pertinent details and then rearrange them to your hearts desire.
  • Organizing ideas. I used to have a stack of used sticky notes with random little ideas on them. Now I have an alphabetized index card box. It’s amazing. Just write the main topic of the idea on the top of the card and file it accordingly.
  • Literally organizing anything. Seriously. I love them.


This one is probably the most obvious, but I’ll still include it. You want a computer that stays connected to WiFi, so really old computers my be a pain. You also want to be able to save your writing in the Cloud. I’ve heard too many stories of people with almost finished novels losing all their work because their computer got damaged.

Now, these aren’t the ‘official’ tools of writing, but they’re what I highly recommend on getting. Good luck on picking pens and notebooks!