8 Tools Every Writer Needs

When I first started on this writing journey five years ago, I bought or borrowed every book, followed every blogger, and signed up for free trials of writing software and programs that were recommended.

I was equipped.

I was ready to tackle the ideas bursting in my head.

But the more I dug into the tool box I created, the more overwhelmed I became. There are hundreds of options available to the aspiring author. And hundreds of dollars could be spent on options that don’t necessarily work for YOU.

It wasn’t until after completing three or four novels, that I whittled down my pile to a handful of basic tools that worked for me.

There are important items to add to your toolbox other than what’s listed below. But much depends on the writing path you’ve chosen and which stage of the journey you’re traveling. You can’t go wrong with grammar software or taking courses specific to your genre or desired outcome. And definitely add some marketing and social media training in there when you’re ready.

Here are the eight tools in my basic writing toolbox.

What’s in Ann’s Writing Toolbox?

Craft Book

There are so many wonderful books out there, but whenever I start a new story – whether it be a romance, historical, or women’s fiction – my go-to book is THE STORY EQUATION by Susan May Warren.

This book approaches writing from the point of story. Every other book out there gives you tips or steps to follow structures, or to help you as a plotter, pantser, or plantser. The Story Equation asks one question, that helps you as a writer to dig deeper into your story, emerging with a fully developed character. Complete with the goals, motivations, and conflicts the hero or heroine will face. Once I’ve answered the question posed in The Story Equation, the novel practically writes itself.

Resource Books

The most invaluable set of books I’ve used during the drafting process is the Writers Helping Writers Thesaurus Collection. At any stage of the writing process, these books are close by. Looking for a way to describe someone being anxious without saying “he’s anxious?”. Grab the Emotions Thesaurus. Looking to give your hero or heroine an emotional wound that will affect the story you’ve set up for them? Grab the Emotional Wounds thesaurus.

Non-Fiction Book about Writing

STORY GENIUS by Lisa Cron will change the way you write. Honestly, this woman has done a ton of research, has the industry credentials to be credible and debunks practically everything taught in writing classes. And how does she do it? Using science! Brain science to be exact.

If there’s only one book about writing you’ll ever read, it should be this one.

Writing Blog

As an inspirational writer (targeting the Christian market), I look for resources that are slanted toward that world view. SEEKERVILLE, though no longer active, was such a resource for me. They’ve left the site active so that authors can dig into the archives. And I highly recommend searching the site.

If you’re on the self-publishing/marketing path, I recommend checking out blogger David Gaughgran.

Writing Course

I’ve taken a lot of courses over the years, spent as little as $15USD to $300USD. And by far, the most valuable course I’ve taken, isn’t one course. It’s a membership to a database of courses. These courses are from a Christian world view, but there’s much to be gleaned from this database if you’re writing clean fiction. Topics cover everything from basic techniques to establishing an author career. It’s a one-stop shop for writers of Christian/clean novels. NOVEL ACADEMY is the baby of Susan May Warren. The price tag is steep (especially with Canadian exchange) but OH.SO.WORTH.IT.

Writing Software

It’s a steep learning curve, but I don’t want to write another novel in another word processor again. SCRIVENER is my writing software of choice (though there’s another software that’s up and coming that will eventually give Scrivener a run for it’s money – I use that software too, by the way). Scrivener is everything packed together so you don’t have to go scrambling through your computer files or search online for that webpage you quoted. You can import files, webpages, photos, notes, PDFs and store them in the same folder as your story text. It’s a big filing cabinet that easily allows you to move files, scenes and chapters around with just one click (or slide) of your mouse.

The best part? It doesn’t cost a week of groceries to purchase.

Writing Partner

This one took a while to find. After joining several different critique groups in various places, this relationship came from a completely different avenue. I’m so thankful for Laurie as I know we can shoot ideas off one another whenever. We encourage each other to go the extra mile. We tell each other when the writing isn’t working or if we’re doing something well.

Keep your eyes open. You may be surprised who steps in to walk this writing journey with you.

And the final item…

My last tool in my toolbox is membership to writing groups that are aligned with my genres. This tool gives me a community that knows my craft. I am a member of several writing groups which focus on different aspects of my brand. This tool has changed over time and I won’t recommend one group over another since each group has shaped the writer I am. And I’m grateful for the relationships I’ve established within each group.

Find your community. You don’t want to miss this essential item.

What tools do you have in your writer toolbox?


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