When you really get down to thinking about it, a writer has many tools available to help with the process of writing. If you go even further than just thinking about it, though, and start getting really technical about it, you find that one of the things that separate each writer from another are the distinctly different tools that they use to successfully write or keep themselves up as writers.
So there are some tools that are pretty self explanatory and many writers use them consistently; such as a computer, a notebook, caffeine.. and then there are common tools that you might not often think of as a tool for your writing, but generally speaking, they are; such as your creativity, the time in which you have to write, the weight that other visual works hold on your writing (be it other literature or movies), etc. I’d like to go over the second half of these common ones I’ve mentioned first.
I think this is fairly obvious, but I can see why it’s not one of those things that someone might not obviously think of. Most fiction writers have some level of creativity, but there are few who are experience enough to actively tap into their creativity and get what they want out of it whenever they want it. I’m not one of those people; my imagination and creativity are crazy, but they come and go as they please. I can’t say I don’t use them when I get the chance, though.
It’s actually pretty common to struggle to find time to write. I always have time to write, but not always time to write what I want. It’s unfortunate, really, but I somewhat like being able to spend hours brooding over an idea for my novel while I’m working, which in the end is writing and improving my craft anyway. For some people, though, between work, family, school, and other obligations, finding time to squeeze in even a couple minutes’ worth of writing can be difficult, and it’s hard to write when you don’t have time to do it.
Weight of Other Work
More likely than not you’ve got a favourite movie or a novel that’s inspired you to write, or you just love it so much that you can’t help but draw from it and incorporate what you can into your own ideas. Even just reading something in passing, such as the newspaper or a commercial on television, maybe there’s a choice of words that rings with you and you can’t help but use it again yourself. It happens. Something I think about a lot, though, is this saying: “Copying from an unknown work is called being creative, copying from a well-known work is called plagiarism.” I find it funny; it’s not necessarily true, but in some ways it is. Other people’s work- whether we like it or not, or whether we actually think about it or not- really pin us down sometimes.
More unconventional (in my opinion), but “common” tools are: alcohol, drugs, exhaustion, travelling.
And now we get into the more writer-specific tools…
I’ve heard several times from my friend (he likes to mention it almost every time he’s brought up) that Stephen King has/used to have a problem with cough syrup. So he’d write a lot of his stories under the influence of cough syrup… Admittedly, I don’t know whether it’s true or not because I’ve never bothered verifying, but I find it funny. It’s also a good example.
For myself, I’ve mentioned in a past post that something I take advantage of is my ability to take some of my crazier dreams and morph them into usable story themes, ideas, characters, scenes, etc., and though that’s my biggest tool, there’s another that I’d like to elaborate on today. I use and abuse heat for writing. What I mean is that for some reason I find it a lot easier to write when I’m in a room a little too hot. I don’t really know why, I just kinda do. *shrug*
Do any of you guys use any unusual tools to help with your writing?