Everything You Wanted to Know About the Writing Tools I (Don’t) Use

writing tools1Well, every party has its pooper, and on this particular blog hop at least (click on Writer’s Blog Hop in the right-hand column to take you to the blogs of other participating writers), the pooper appears to be me. Which writing tools do I use? Do Microsoft Word and my imagination count? If not, I’m going to offer as much here on tools as I did on the goal-making process in the first post on this blog hop tour (see “Goals. Schmoals.” posted on Monday, January 13, 2014).

Did you know that in the 1950’s the U.S. government formed a committee to investigate how, with the rise of technology aimed at simplifying their lives, people were going to spend all the free time they suddenly had on their hands?

From our vantage point in 2014, we laugh at that, given what we now know: that all that technology purportedly designed to simplify our lives has actually ended up complicating it beyond all reason and comprehension.


Today we suffer, not from too much time on our hands, but from too much stress, too much information, too much exposure (of ourselves to everyone else, and everyone and everything else to us), too little downtime, and far too little face-to-face interaction with other human beings.

All this to say that, in my humble opinion, while technology can be a wonderful thing, it can also add unnecessary stress to our lives, complicating what was initially (and for thousands of years) a relatively simple process. Like writing.

Scrivener. Evernote. Dropbox. Livescribe. Storify. Skyword. Enso writer. Textilus. Zoho Writer. I hear these words over and over, and they run through my mind like the exotic names on the spice bottles in the international aisle at the supermarket. Sure, they sound intriguing. Sure, they may add zest and flavour. But is it worth taking the chance that my digestive system may be thrown completely out of whack if I try them out? Umm, no. And frankly, I’m not about to rush out and test any of those exotic spices either.

And so I have, thus far, resisted jumping onto the writing tools bandwagon.

I admit there are times when I do glance out my window as one of those aforementioned bandwagons drives by, loaded with cheering passengers all waving brightly coloured flags and lustily singing songs extolling the virtues of a brand new product, service or idea, and a twinge of curiosity ripples through me. This is generally followed by a hint of regret as I watch the wagon rumble off into the distance and disappear. Inevitably though, both the curiosity and regret fade, replaced by relief—as I settle back onto my desk chair with a sigh—that I don’t have to experience yet another learning curve, or spend days or weeks or months attempting to force my already near-saturated brain to absorb new information.

I can just write.

writing(Just as an aside, in case you wonder if I ever actually get anything done when I refuse to spend countless hours laying out my goals and every step I am going to take to achieve them, or acquiring and attempting to figure out every bit of writing software out there, I did finish three books last year and sign with an agent, so it can be done.)

I’m not a contrarian by nature, although my mother, who carried around her handy—and well-worn—pocket-sized reference guide to James Dobson’s The Strong-Willed Child while I was growing up may disagree. (I’m kidding; there is no handy, pocket-sized reference guide to The Strong-Willed Child, although now that the whole what-goes-around-comes-around thing is happening to me, I can’t help thinking that a guide like that is a tool I WOULD love to get my hands on.) But I digress. The point is, for now anyway, I choose to remain obstinately oblivious to the vast array of writing tools available out there.

While I remain a conscientious objector—to this brand of technology at least—I’m the first to admit there may be very good reasons for jumping onto this particular bandwagon. The other writers on this blog hop are all intelligent, creative, beautiful women whom I admire greatly. The fact that they have no doubt been regaling you with descriptions of the tools that have transformed their lives and writing careers completely is reason enough for me to pause and wonder if I might just be missing out on something I am in vital need of after all.

Just for a moment, though. Then I will let go of that thought, turn off the computer and utilize the time I might otherwise have spent going through reams of instructions on how to use the latest bit of writing software actually interacting, face-to-face, with the other human beings I am blessed to call my family and friends.

Press on, my friends. Press on,


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24 Responses to Everything You Wanted to Know About the Writing Tools I (Don’t) Use

  1. Sara, your post put a smile on my face this morning. Isn’t it great that we are all created unique and we have the freedom to write in the way that works best for us?

    • Sara Davison says:

      That’s so true Ruth – I know many other writers who operate beautifully with goals and sub-goals and tools and outlines, while many more, including myself, don’t do as well with that much structure. We are all created differently and thank goodness or the world would be a terribly dull place. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Ruth Coghill says:

    I read and my spirit resonates. Three books last year. WOW & WOW! That crept by me unawares.
    Congratulations, Sara. You are an inspiration to me and many! Heaps of love, Ruth

  3. Leanne Ross says:

    It sounds like you have the best tools going (I’m an anti-writing goal sort of gal myself). The ability to really write can’t be learned by using a new program. It takes practice and a whole lot of reading.
    Thanks for the post!
    Leanne Ross ( readfaced.wordpress.com )

  4. Sara, I’d say your tool simplicity is working really well, so I wouldn’t change a thing!

  5. Tracy Krauss says:

    here’s to the party poopers! Don’t try to fit yourself into a round hole if you’re a peg. Whatever works! (PS: waving as I drive by in my shiny new ‘Scrivener van… )

  6. Love diversity! Thanks for sharing!!!!

  7. Daniel Spielmann says:

    Whatever floats your boat! F2f interaction, “real” human beings etc. do nothing for me, I like interaction with the “human” factor cut out, just as I don’t like live music and music produced by human hands on pieces of sting or whatever and very much prefer electronic sounds from a machine… So I stick with the tools rather than the socializing in real life-thing.
    As long as we’re all aware of the fact their ain’t no one size fits all and don’t start proselytizing – fine.

    • Sara Davison says:

      Absolutely. No one is more aware of (or irritated by) the fallacy of “one size fits all” than I am. I always try to make it clear that I am sharing what works for me, and acknowledge that others may find the complete opposite to be true. We’re all different and I’m very thankful for that as it keeps life interesting. Thanks for your comments.

  8. I strongly believe in doing what works for you. Following the crowd is not always the best solution, or the right way to do things.I admire your uniqueness. 🙂

  9. joe says:

    I think we all have some method of retaining and cataloging our story and character facts as we write. I use an old-school notebook and pen. It would be interesting to see what methods writers like Poe and Dickens and Twain used….

    • Sara Davison says:

      Which is what I always come back to Joe – so many writers tell me they simply couldn’t write if they didn’t have at the very least a computer, and preferably all the fancy new writing software, but of course, strictly speaking, that’s not true. For thousands of years now writers have found a way to write, from Dostoyevsky scratching on his prison walls to J.K. Rowling scribbling notes on a napkin at a coffee shop when she couldn’t afford a computer. Sure, all this technology may be helpful, but we’re losing the ability to tell helpful from necessary, I think. A writer has to write, and stripped of every bit of software and hardware they thought they couldn’t live without, they will somehow find a way.

  10. Hooray! Another non-techie! I loved your post and feel so much better now. I’m doing well to manage Facebook. Thanks for the encouragement. Three books? Wow!

  11. Microsoft Word and your imagination definitely count, Sara! My imagination was on my list too 🙂

    • Sara Davison says:

      Thanks Susan – that’s a relief 🙂 Although I have to admit other bloggers have included things they called tools that I hadn’t considered, such as solitude, so maybe I use more tools than I realized. Thanks for stopping by!

  12. Sara–I am so with you on that. I got tired of facebooking, tweeting, blogging (for the most part) and bandwagoning to the point where I finally trashed most of it and settled into a good wholesome word file, coffee within reach, silence and unplugged phone as my companion. I am actually churning out a bit of fiction now:)

    • Sara Davison says:

      The bottom line is we all have to find what works for us, and obviously you have (good suggestion about the unplugged phone, by the way, I’m going to add that one to my toolbox). As a fan of your fiction, glad to hear you are churning more out! Can’t wait to read it. Thanks for your comments.

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