I’m always jealous of creative types that get to have cool tools: painters with their big canvases, brushes, and smudges of color all over them; photographers with cameras and lenses and lights; dancers and their special shoes and those sweatshirt legging things.

We’re writers.  What do we get?

Computers. Pencils and paper. Maybe a typewriter if you’re old school or stubborn.

But on the other hand, it’s pretty awesome that the tools of the writing trade are so basic, but the stuff we make is so grand and imaginative anyway. **Pats self on back.**

We got to thinking about all this because we got another good question from Joseph about using Scrivener.  Good question, since two of us swear by it and Tommy’s never heard of it.

2013 writing toolsBut we decided to go beyond the question and talk about other tools and tricks we use for our writing processes.  Because writing is hard work, and everyone’s process is different.  It helps to know what tools are out there, and what processes other people use.

That way you can find what works best for you, because it’s all about getting words down, and however that happens is good.

Thanks again for the question, Joseph! 



  • Joseph calls in to ask about Scrivenerscrivener-logo, which Baker and Jody swear by, but Tommy has no idea what it is.  We describe the program (short version: IT’S AWWWESOMMMME!) and basically slobber all over ourselves because IT’S AWWWESOMMME.
  • Then we talk about whether a tool can become too much a part of your process to the point where you can’t write without it.
  • Jody talks about Final Draft for writing stage and screen work (it’s software for plays, screenplays, and any kind of script).
  • Screenwriters have lots of tools that use technology, like Character Writer and Save the Cat.
  • Tommy gives a sermon about ancient writing tools known as “the notebook” and “the pen.” Whatever those are.
  • Actually, we all use notebooks in our writing process–we talk about ways that writing by hand can help your mind generate new ideas.
  • Then Baker admits his addiction to the Coffitivity app, which gives him some human-surroundings kind of white noise to block out distractions and get more writing done.
  • Back to notebooks, we all talk about the place that writing by hand has for us in our writing process.
  • Next up: the corkboard. We all have some kind of visual way to see our book’s chapters and scenes on the wall.  Jody talks about how she used to make collages to evoke feelings and scenes that she wanted to seep into her work.
  • Then, we talk about Austin Kleon’s idea that creatives should have a digital desk and an analog desk.
  • What about music as a writing tool? Do we write to music? Tommy listens to heavy metal. Jody’s a white noise fan.
  • Tommy gives us a seagull sound that we can use for soothing sounds to write by.
  • Can these tools be stifling to creativity? We mull over that possibility–tools can be distracting or can slow you down.
  • But here’s the official Fiction School line on writing tools: There are no shortcuts to writing well. It takes hours and hours and years and years to learn to write well.  No tool is perfect, no tool is indespensible.  Use the ones that help you, but don’t depend on tools to make you a good writer.

Thanks again for the question, Joseph!

Got a question for us? Call us!  We love voicemails so we can put your question on the podcast.

OK, get busy with whatever tools work for you.  Sling them words, writers.  See y’all next week.