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Two Crucial Writing Tools

Sometimes the tools I use as a writer are so integral to my work that it doesn't occur to me to write about them.

Even though writing about writing is part of what I do.

Tool Number One: The Book Journal

Case in point: On Saturday, the local writing group I co-lead hied ourselves off to a mountain cabin for a snowy (yay) day-long mini-retreat.  (Thanks, Renee, for the use of your wonderful place.)  In the course of our discussions that day, the idea of keeping a journal or some kind of notebook in which to write about your novel (not on it) came up.

And apparently, I was the only one who did this.  Which flabbergasted me, because I could not live without this tool.  I'm constantly scribbling notes about my characters, plot, setting and so on.  Thoughts I have when I wake up in the middle of the night but don't have time to put into play.  An idea for the end of the story.  And so on.

Let me repeat: I could not live without some kind of notebook to corrall ongoing ideas for my novel. But it's so much a part of my process I never think about mentioning it.  I just thought everyone did this.

If you don't do this, I recommend you start.   You'll find it a wonderful way to get your brilliance out of your mind and onto paper when you don't have time to actually work on your book.  Along the same lines, another thing I sometimes do is open a "notes file" on the computer in which to dump ideas about a project.  This might work as well or better for you.

By the way, John Steinbeck kept journals about his ongoing writing projects. You can read about one of them here on Amazon.

So that's tool number one.

Tool Number Two: The Hold File

This tool also came out in discussion on Saturday: the hold file.   I create one for each project and label it as such: Hold for Blue Sky, Hold for Emma Jean, and so on.  Then, when I delete something I copy and paste it to the hold file.  This is handy in case you want to put something you deleted back in.

Though mostly that never happens.  But what does happen is that the hold file allows you to feel okay about deleting stuff, because you know that should you mourn that fabulous sentence too much, you can always retreive it.  I'm working on revising an old short story and I've cut five pages from it--all of which are safely stored in my hold file so that I can access them when I panic.

So those are my two crucial tools that it never occurs to me to mention.  What are yours?  Tell us about them in the comments--it helps other writers so much.