The Tools Are Not Important

Scrivener

Today, my message will be very short and sweet. The tools that you use to write are not important. Yes, you heard me right. Let me explain.

It seems like every writing website has an advertisement for some piece of software or tools to improve your writing, but in the long run you don’t need those tools.

I’ve written stories using pen and paper, Google Drive, FocusWriter, Word, Pluma, Notepad++, yWriter, and haroopad. Each one of tools has its own features to “improve” your writing (FocusWriter offers distraction-free writing and yWriter is a free clone of Scrivener), but they also add a level of complexity. This added complexity takes you away from your story. It makes you jump through hoops to get any writing done.

As William Faulkner said, “The tools I need for my work are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey.” If we focus on creating masterpieces with words instead of trying to master a new program, we will be ahead of the game.

In closing, here is a clip of George R. R. Martin talking about what he uses to write.

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John Paul WohlscheidJohn Paul Wohlscheid is the author of  Church Triumphant: 25 Men and Women who Gave Their Lives to Christ, Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth and Trouble is My Client. His stories feature a hard-boiled detective in the tradition of old-time radio shows. He blogs at Writer’s Soapbox.

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3 thoughts on “The Tools Are Not Important”

  1. No tool is, in and of itself, important. That’s what the word till means — something that you use to achieve a particular end. The end is what matters. But some tools will help you achieve your desired end more effectively and expeditiously than others. The trick is to do the best you can with the tools available to you, and to acquire better tools when that seems possible and desirable. I have written bits of stories and essays on sales receipts and fast food napkins, but that is not anything I would recommend to anyone as a general practice. I would, and do, recommend yWriter and Scrivener to anyone who regularly writes books or other long, complex documents, because they can be an enormous help in keeping things organized. But the same task, obviously, can be achieved with notebook paper, index cards, and paper clips, which some people prefer, and which I sometimes use in addition to my electronic tools. The tools serve the craftsman, and any accomplished craftsman knows that decent tools are things to be valued.

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  2. I think the important thing is to find the tool that works for you, and just continue using that. It was very frustrating to me when I had to switch from Word 2003 to Word 2010–the interface looked entirely different. But I mastered it, and can use it very efficiently now. The thing to do is to know your software so well you forget all about it and focus on the writing itself.

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