Writing Toolkit

Every workman or workwoman needs tools. What tools does the writer need to get the writing job done? In this post, I will share with you the contents of my writing toolkit and show you why I have included them. First, I will define the writing toolkit. 

Read on to find out what tools may be put into the writer's toolkit and why they are necessary. 
What is a writing toolkit?
I define the writing toolkit as a collection of tangible and intangible things that the writer needs to have in place to get the writing job done. 

Here are the tools that I have in my toolkit.
For years, I have been putting tools into my writing toolkit without realising it. Now that I think about it, I realise that the first tool that I put into my writing toolkit was imagination. I update it as the years go by.
Imagination is the ability to:
  •  visualise
  • to see things in your mind that you haven’t experienced before 
  • to process your experiences as you live them and after you’ve lived them
  • to live vicariously through the many books that you read – I hope that you do read because reading positively impacts writing, according to the experts.
Imagination is a wonderful thing because it allows us to take a break from this physical plane that we exist in and engage with another reality. It is out of the imagination that we get ideas.
Collection of ideas
A collection of ideas is another tool that I added to my writing toolkit. The ideas that we write about and the ideas that we want to write about come out of our imagination.
My imagination continues to stimulate many ideas: big ideas, small ideas, all kinds of ideas. I can’t write about all of the ideas that I’ve generated so far, neither can you. But we can write about a few of the compelling ones. What do you do with the rest? Throw them into your writing toolkit until the right time comes along for you to shape them into a book, a short story, a novel, a poem, a screen play – you get to decide what form your writing will take.
I added my vocabulary to my toolkit – the words I learnt from my schooling at home, in school and in the wider society. This vocabulary is not static. I update it all the time as I learn new words, formal and informal. Your vocabulary is a most important tool in your toolkit because writers have to be selective about words when they write.
If you are writing for children, you have to choose child friendly words. If you are writing about people in urban centres or rural areas, or from different professions, you need to know how they speak and allow your writing to reflect that.
It is the vocabulary that you use to tell your story and how you order it that will convince your reader that you know what you are talking about; that you understand your characters and the contexts in which they live.
Knowledge of the writing process
It is important that the writer has a bit of knowledge about the writing process. Being a teacher of English, I had to learn about the writing process. Note, however, that the writing process that experts share with us is only a guide to the writer.
The writing process is not a linear one. 
It is a good idea, I think, to think of it as a maze of ideas that the writer wanders through, sometimes getting lost but most times finding a way out.
Let’s briefly look at the stages in the writing process.
  • The pre-writing stage is the ideas generating stage when the writer gives her imagination free reign and tries to keep up with it as it races along.
  • Writing/drafting is your attempt to capture your idea that you choose to share in the form of your choice. This is your first draft. Don’t second guess yourself. Just write! 
  • Revision happens after you write. Cut out what does not advance your story, put in important bits that you’d left out.
  • Editing is the process of cleaning up your story. When you believe that you've captured the story as you intended, it is time to edit it by fixing grammar and structure.
  • Publishing means sharing your work with an audience.
Comfortable place to write
A comfortable place to write is an important tool that you need to have in your toolkit. This place should clear your head and allow your thoughts to flow. Most often, this comfortable place is my bedroom. I just need a place with few distractions, and I am good to go. Some people write in cafes, at the beach – the list goes on. You have to find the right place for you to write, then write.
Writing implements
I added an important set of tools to my toolkit, pen and paper, which I later traded in for a computer. Sometimes ideas refuse to be captured and I stare at my blank screen willing them to come forward. Eventually I catch them, a few words at a time.
The memory is notoriously unreliable. Do not think that you will always remember those scenes that you write in your mind, the ones that you tell yourself that you will write one day. Write those scenes as soon as they show themselves and put them in your writing bank, which I’ll talk about later.
A writing bank
You know how the writing gurus tell us that we should write at least 400 words per day? If we write 400 words per day – say for 300 days in the year, assuming that we take 65 days for ourselves – we will write 120,000 words per year. That’s enough words to get us one or more books, depending on our genre.
So, suppose you decide to take the advice of these writing gurus and write any four hundred words that come to mind each day, words that you believe are advancing your story at that moment. After revising, though, you realise that while they are nice words, they really don’t advance the story that you want to tell. Instead of pressing the delete button, cut and paste those words into another document and name it for example, 'remnant...' of whatever story you were writing. This is the beginning of your writing bank.
I save pieces of stories to enhance my future bits of writing. Sometimes I am writing a story, an idea pops into my head, one that would work at that point in my story. I pause. I am happy. I had explored that idea before, rejected it and deposited it into my writing bank. I retrieve it, saving time and brain power that I’d use to rewrite that scene.
My unsolicited bit of advice? Don’t throw away extended bits of writing because they do not fit into the project that you are working on. You will have ample opportunities to use them in future bits of writing.
A time manipulator
A time manipulator is the first tool that I added to my writing toolkit on the second leg of my writing journey. This is an intangible tool buried deep in my brain that I use to schedule time for writing. You will find that if you don’t schedule time to write, you’ll never move beyond the starting gate on the road to realising your writing dreams. The time manipulator is really your will to write that you activate at intervals without feeling pressured to do so. Practice flipping that switch until it becomes second nature.
Many of us have to prioritise writing like everything else in our lives. And there are times when we just can’t bother – either because the ideas are not flowing fast enough or because we don’t see the point of continuing or because somebody tells us that our writing sucks...any number of things can interrupt our flow. But don’t give up. If you practice enough, do your research, practice some more and research some more, you will finally feel like you are making headway. I have been there.
Patience is the ability to keep your cool in spite of the writing challenges that you face daily. Patience is a tool that I had to put into my writing toolkit. I discovered that I needed patience to persevere, to keep on going. Developing patience takes work but it can be done. My patience has been yielding bountiful results. If you embrace patience, you’ll have that first piece of writing sooner or later.
To ensure that my writing is authentic, that it represents the souls and lives of the characters that I write about, I had to put empathy into my writing toolkit. Empathy in this context basically means walking in the shoes of the people about whom you are writing. Sometimes, you have to take this walk literally, other times, figuratively. But before you can do this you need to understand yourself, your biases, the making of those biases and how they colour your views of others.
It is only after you understand yourself that you’ll be able to open up yourself to understanding what makes other people tick, people who are different from you. It is only then that you’ll be able to connect with them. I am sharpening this tool. You should, too.
I added this tool to my writing toolkit because it is the engine that keeps me writing. You can’t truly write if you do not love the writing process and you do not love the products of that process. My stories are my babies that I nurture until they are ready to meet an audience. Give time and consideration to your writing. Write with love and the end result will reflect that love.
So, there you have it, the tools in my toolkit at this time. No doubt, I’ll be adding others as my journey continues.
What tools do you have in your writing toolkit? Share in the comment section below.

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About the Author

Janette B. Fuller is a ghost writer and author of four books. 

When you are ready to write your story and/or after you have written your story, make contact with her at writingwisdomtree@gmail.com. She'll help you write your best story by helping you arrange your thoughts and/or edit your work. Check out her books here


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