A Writer’s Most Important Tool

It’s time for a little pop-quiz.  What is the most important tool that a writer, or an aspiring writer should have on them at all times?  Certainly a copy of a dictionary ranks right up there as one of the most important tools to have  and a Thesaurus can be helpful too, just so long as you don’t over use it. An updated copy of the MLA handbook or Strunk and White’s Elements of Style come in handy , but I’m not talking about resource books.

I’m talking about something to use to actually do the task of writing. Some may quickly answer a laptop computer or a tablet. That’s all well and good, but what if your battery runs out? What if you’re at a coffee shop and every outlet is taken so you can’t recharge it? What if you’re out for a hike in the woods and a sudden burst of inspiration hits you?

Obviously, if you’re hiking you won’t be carrying a laptop with you. Your tablet may not be charged and you don’t want to risk dropping it and having it break so that’s out.  You need something quick, easy, and handy. Any guesses yet? Do you give up? The answer may be surprising to you, especially since in the 21st century it’s kind of a dinosaur.

The answer is a pencil ( or pen) and a little notebook. Yes sir, when that sudden moment of inspiration strikes and you are scrambling for something to write with nothing is better than good old fashioned pencil ( or pen ) and paper. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s cheap, plus you don’t have to wait for them to boot up.

This happened to me a little bit ago. I was hanging out up at the local Barnes and Noble bookstore at the mall. My mom was working the Easter set and as always I bring my laptop with so I can write and help pass the time. However the local schools were on spring break and that meant the malls were busy.

I went up to the Starbucks ready to write and found almost every table except for one was taken. My computer’s battery was dead and I had an idea for something for one of my projects. I scrambled around in my bag for my basic paper notebooks only to find I had left them at home .

Normally I always have one on me, but I had been in a hurry that day. I had debated on buying a new one, only to realize it was pointless to buy one when I had plenty sitting at home. I had to get my idea down before it was gone, so I continued searching my bag.

Thankfully I still had a few sheets of paper in my bag that had the e-mail addresses of some other attendees of a writers conference I went to some time ago. Using the backs of those e-mail lists I quickly wrote down my ideas. It may be an unorthodox source of paper for some but keep in mind that JRR Tolkien wrote the opening lines for The Hobbit in the back of a test booklet, and JK Rowling wrote the first ideas for Harry Potter on a napkin.

When writers need paper they’ll l find it. Napkins, test booklets, chewing gum wrappers, or any old scraps of paper lying around. When you have an idea and need to get it down anything goes. Who knows what idea for a new book lies waiting in the depths of your mind?  This is why it is imparative for a writer to always have paper and a writing utensil on hand at all times. You never know when inspiration will come, so it’s best to be ready.

You never know when that idea will want to break free.


About jonathondsvendsen

Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog! Somehow you stumbled upon it. Whatever brought you around, I'm glad you're here. I am a free-lance writer and independent scholar of pop-cultural mythology, living and working in Minnesota. An aspiring mythmaker, I dream of voyages through space, fantastic worlds, and even my own superhero or two. I am also an established public speaker and have guest-lectured for college classes on the topic of comic book superheroes. I graduated from Bethel University in 2007 with a degree in Literature and Creative writing. I also write for the website NarniaFans.com. Head on over and you can check out my book reviews , a few fun interviews and even my April Fools Day jokes.
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One Response to A Writer’s Most Important Tool

  1. Jansina says:

    So true! I’ve written on napkins and receipts before. (My handwriting is small, hehe.)

    I always bring a notebook and an abundance of pens now…the only reason I use a purse. If I wasn’t an author, my pockets would hold everything I “need”!

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