Some of the Best Writing Tools Aren’t Actually for Writing

My favorites are mostly for getting things started, and they’re mostly analog

Jerry Garcia with one of his favorite writing tools. Photo: Wikicommons

“What‘s your favorite writing tool?”

When Creator’s Hub, Medium’s official blog for creators, posed that question I thought, Do I have any digital writing tools? Besides a computer? Any apps? Extensions? Anything beyond Google Docs or the Medium editor? After staring at my screen for a few minutes, I realized the writing tools I value are very much supporting players (and very much analog players) but are very important to my process.

So much of writing is not writing. It’s preparing to write. It’s about getting comfortable — with your space and/or your subject. It’s the research and thinking you do before the writing. “Writing tools” work the same way. Some of the most important implements and resources are employed well before any typing actually happens.

Here’s what I left in the comments:

I’ve been using GCal to schedule 15 minutes of writing each day. Sometimes I keep going beyond the 15 minutes, but it’s good to have that routine in place to keep me at it

Analog items: A great task lamp like the Anglepoise Type 75. It’s a classic. Turning it on puts me into writing/working mode. I also have a record player right next to my desk, and on the turntable is a Grateful Dead live album. The side it’s on only has two songs, but they’re each like 15 minutes long. When I’m about to start writing, I play it. It’s like walk-up music.

Here are a few more “tools” I use:

I use an old dining-room table in my office as a desk, and I really love the space. If you work from home and have enough room in that home, I recommend it. You can put loads of research materials out and around you. And having all that space makes things feel uncluttered. I love a very tidy space.

I like the Precise V5 pen by Pilot. It feels technical, precise. Pilot’s Varsity disposable fountain pen is also really satisfying to write with and not as fussy as a regular fountain pen.

I also use a LOT of notecards in various colors.

Also: I highly recommend Creator’s Hub. It’s an inspiring resource and one of my favorite tools, in its own way.

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Ross McCammon

Ross McCammon

Author, Works Well With Others: Crucial Skills in Business No One Ever Teaches You // writing about creativity, work, and human behavior, in a useful way