Tools of the Trade

Posted: June 13, 2011 by joemu362 in Joe

Hey hey, everybody. Yours truly has now officially taken over Mondays in regards to posting here, and I figure that since we’re still getting off the ground, it’s probably a good idea to get to know the crew, right? Right. After kicking a few ideas around, I figured that one of the major things people ask a writer is how they do what they do. Since they don’t always accept “witchcraft” or “I just do it” as proper answers, here’s what I use to make the magic happen.

Well, aside from witchcraft. That’d probably be for a later post.


That’s it. This is pretty well all it takes in terms of tools for a guy like me to get his work done. Pretty extensive collection, but it all fits in a bag, so that’s the important part. Once I start lugging around my books, though, then things get heavy.


This, ladies and gentlemen, is the secret weapon. Arthur had Excalibur. Harry Potter had his wand. Bandit had the Trans Am. This little baby is chock-full of ideas, snippets of conversation I hear walking around (that’s right, I’m listening), and lots and lots of lines I’ve read from books which were particularly exquisite that require further study and analysis. (Wow, that was a lot of big words.) Essentially, without this little dude, I’d be forced to sever someone’s head and carry it around to hold all of my extra thoughts. What? Buy another journal, you say? Don’t talk stupid.


I have to give credit where credit is due. This idea came from Sherlock Holmes himself. I don’t remember what story it was in, but there was a moment where Holmes very blandly told the ever-loyal Doctor Watson that the only sections of the newspaper he reads are the crime sections and the dreadfuls (the gossip sections, as I soon discovered). For someone who writes crime fiction, I figured it’d be a good idea to keep up with these as well, so I took a leaf out of the great detective’s book and…well, started taking leaves from newspapers? I guess? Oh hell, you know what I’m getting at. I try to go over it at least once a week, scurrying back to my dank cave so that I can find the truly succulent bits that might inspire a story.


I’m a sucker for notebooks. Really. I have tons. Consider this the evolved form of the journal. If something from the journal really tickles the old mind-grapes, I write it out here. I have difficulty reading from a screen, which sucks, and sometimes I just don’t want to stare at another screen for a while. Hence, the old-fashioned pen-and-paper approach. I’ve found I write a lot more on paper, but I’m also more likely to try and edit myself, so it’s a bit of a toss-up. It works for me though.


Now for the messy part about my love affair with notebooks. I used to buy notebooks out the wazoo. Notebooks for every project, one shining monument to each individual Thingy I was working on at a given time. However, for obvious reasons, this didn’t pan out too well. I had lots of notebooks lying around with maybe the first twenty pages filled with scribbles, and once the dog started nibbling at them, I figured I had to come up with something else. Thus, the clipboard. Tons of looseleaf paper means I get to work on whatever it is I feel like doing, rearranged pages and sections at a whim, and having a solid surface to write on if I’m on the bus or something. It’s handy.


Hey, a man’s gotta eat.

So, True Believers, have you got a particularly interesting arsenal? Are there things you virtually have to have on hand to get any writing done? Suggestions for better things? Do the comment dance. It’s cool, nobody watchin’ but me.



  1. So many specifics. I always carry a red pen and a small journal in my pocket, but I don’t consider them my tools for writing. For me, writing seems to come in fits and every idea wants to be written down differently.

    Often, I scribble things long-hand on a yellow legal pad, which is the closest thing to my specific tools I have. Other times, especially when the idea is coming in a rush, I do it on the computer. I’ve also been known to scribble poems or fragments on receipts or fast-food wrappers as I have an idea come to me while driving.

    Lately, I’ve definitely been favoring the computer, if only because it’s the only way I can write while I’m at work without making a big deal about it.

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