A carpenter has his tools, an artist her brushes, and a musician his instrument.
As a writer, you’re no different.
And other than your quill or keyboard, there are indispensable resources you should be taking advantage of in order to keep your best writing flowing.
Here are 7 of them, in no particular order.
Writing is a financially frugal pursuit. Our limited resource, rather, is the time we require to put words to the page.
To maximize your writing time, make a list of everything you do in a typical day. What must absolutely stay? Showing up to work and feeding the kids are non-negotiables, of course.
But is Netflix? That favorite video game? A nap?
Lately, when friends tell me, “You have to watch (insert show name here) ,” I respond with this:
“I’m not watching their story until I’ve finished mine.” (<–tweet that)
What is competing for the time you need to tell your story?
…or the note-taking smartphone app that works for you.
Since most smartphones have voice-to-text, you can record story notes from almost anywhere. In fact, it seems that the best ideas come when my hands are occupied and unable to grab a pencil.
That’s where Evernote comes in. Since inspiration isn’t limited to the 1-2 hours you have scheduled for creation, enable yourself to capture those random nuggets of genius when they arrive.
Last Christmas, my wife bought a brilliant gift: a water-proof clipboard for divers. Now it hangs in the shower where, embarrassingly enough, lots of ideas and revision notes seem to pop out of the bubble bath.
A Passion for Justice
When we write longer stories, especially novels, the process can get dry. The story becomes procedural.
“This happened, then this, and he said, and she left, and blah blah blah.”
That’s why I research. Nothing energizes my creative spirit like learning about a topic that can ground my story in the pursuit of justice.
I recently submitted a short story to the Writer’s Digest short story contest. To give my story a substantive foundation I dug into the history of a specific event, a localized act of injustice that sparked national outrage at the time.
While my story isn’t specifically about this event or the people involved, the historic background supercharged my process and provided me with images and details I wouldn’t have come up with on my own.
And now my story may actually bring about the kind of change I want to see more of: the increase of justice in our broken world.
With playlist-generating services such as Pandora, we can discover new music based on artists we currently enjoy, filling our ears with the music of our story’s world.
When I write, a particular soundtrack always drives my story’s creation. I’ve tweeted about Mike Cadoo and his project Bitcrush, a series post-rock instrumental albums that are mind-blowing in their beauty and power.
A Romantic Teammate
Whether you are single or hitched, it is wise to pursue a partner that supports and assists you in your story-telling goals.
For the coupled among us, that means investing in our partner’s goals, too.
My wife is both an artist and a direct-sales consultant. Both roles require my support in various ways, and I’m delighted to help. It was no surprise to me, then, that she read drafts of my justice-themed short story and provided invaluable feedback.
And for the single among us, it means preparing to share your dreams with another while sacrificing for the dreams of the other at the same time. If a prospective mate can’t get behind your writing habit – and if you can’t get behind his/her passions, either – then you can expect issues down the road if you choose to continue the relationship.
Forget what the teachers and professors say: Wikipedia is a gift.
What once required half-a-day in a musty library now takes half-an-hour in your underwear. Wikipedia and Google bring near-infinite volumes of information, images, maps, videos, and sound into your writing dreams, so long as your internet connection holds up.
Just make sure you don’t fall into temptation here. Tumblr, Reddit, Buzzfeed, Facebook, Vine – these are hardly places to get stimulation and information to build your stories. Usually they just collect gossip and juvenile complaints, hardly the substance of great writing and solid research.
Stick to Wikipedia.
YouTube can also be an amazing resource. Through it, I’ve traveled to the International Space Station, the summit of Visson Massif in Antarctica, and in the forbidden palaces of North Korea.
Beware those time-sucking internet vortexes though – keep your research focused and get back to writing quickly!
While I’m dying to become a writer who makes a living off his creativity, I’m somewhat terrified as well. I just hope I find ways to stay as desperately hungry as I am now.
Without that ravaging hunger, that soul-sucking thirst to make the leap and find success, many of us find that our creativity fizzles. Recent career events in my life have put a dangerous hunger in me and I simultaneously love and hate it.
Perhaps I can bridge my Hunger with my growing Passion for Justice. Hopefully living off of royalties or sales won’t be enough to satisfy me. Hopefully my spirit will continue to burn for the marginalized, the disadvantaged, the ones born without privilege.
I want to be a hungry writer that gets paid to write. (<– tweet that)
What other indispensable writing resources can you think of? Share in the Comments below!
Featured Photo Credit: Chris Wightman, Creative Commons