This post is the second of a series of six blogs that I’ll write as a participant in the Blog Hop for Writers started by Ruth Snyder. Once you read my post you should “HOP” on over to see what the other writers have to say.
The second topic of the six on the Blog Hop is “Writing Tools I Use.”
When I think of tools, my mind automatically goes to the boxes filled with hammers and wrenches and screwdrivers my dad used to have mounted on the sides of his truck. Because he drove everywhere, there was never a time he was without something he needed. My dad could be counted on to be prepared, sort of like a Boy Scout.
This week I’m supposed to write about the tools I use in helping me create a better story. They aren’t stored in my truck (I don’t even have a truck), but I like to think that they keep me prepared for wherever my characters turn.
The most important tool I have is my love of reading. When there are a few minutes that I can do absolutely anything, you’ll be able to track me down beside my stack of books. Usually I’m in the process of reading two or three novels at a time. Today I have Longbourn by Jo Baker, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and Defy by Sara B. Larson on my bedside table. The first is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice from the point of view of the house servants. The second is a young Adult contemporary love story. The last book is the brand, spanking new fantasy adventure novel by a debut author. From that bit of a description they don’t appear to have much in common, but they all feature teenage female protagonists with love interests. This is my niche; what I love to read and write.
Reading certainly makes me a better writer. When I look back at the stories I created years ago I am so surprised at how much my voice and style has changed. You could attribute this to the fact that I’ve had a lot more practice, but that’s only a bit of the story. The bulk lies in the fact that I’ve devoured some truly wonderful writing in the mean time. It was bound to rub off on me.
Another tool in my arsenal is plain and simply the internet. It is not just a tool for research (though, I love being able to look up things like the meaning of character names), it is also a place for community. Until I began writing this blog and lately joined twitter, writing was a completely solitary experience. Now I have those authors I have been thinking of as rock stars at my fingertips. Also, some of the blogs I follow about writing have moved me in ways I never saw coming.
A few of my “go-to” blogs for writing technique and the realms of publishing are: The Other Side of the Story with Janice Hardy, Anne R. Allen’s Blog….with Ruth Harris, and CommuniCATE Resources for Writers (where I learned about this blog hop). That doesn’t even take into account the multitudes of other writing blogs I pour over each and every day sharing the thoughts from other writers.
The last tool I want to mention is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which is November for those not in the know – enough with all the N words!). I hadn’t even heard of it before this summer and by the time October rolled around, I wasn’t convinced it was for me. The truth is I didn’t know if I could pull it off. I mean, it took me an entire year to write the rough draft of my last novel. How was cramming that much writing into a 30 day period supposed to help me?
Well, I’m happy to report that I did survive those crazy 30 days. Plus after reading that 78,000 pile of words that I wrote, I think I’m a better writer than I knew. What NaNoWriMo did for me was force me not to over think every word I put down. When I couldn’t self edit, my story had a better flow. The story is just better, period. I plan to incorporate this free-flowing, willy nilly, get the words down sort of writing for all my future rough drafts. I can fix the words later. I can’t add spontaneity after the fact.
None of the things I mention above are tools in the traditional sense of the word. I didn’t talk about any special software or a laptop (I don’t use either). What I mentioned are things that I feel have made me a better writer. With this list I feel like I am better prepared to create the stories my mind wants me to tell. I hope that something here will help you.