Tools of the trade: better tools don’t make better writing

The great thing about writing is the number of tools needed to do it effectively. There’s really only one: something to write with. Right now, for me, that’s my laptop (and my iPod Touch while on the go). In the past it’s been a pencil and notebook, and various computers.

There are other tools I use, and each has its purpose, but none of them make me a better writer. Writing makes me a better writer, and while the right tools (arguably) make me write more, and modern tools may make writing easier, none of them are essential in their own right.1 The only thing I really need is a reason to start: inspiration is more valuable than any accessory.

There’s a saying in photography that “the best camera is the one that’s with you.” The same can be said about writing: the best tool is the one that’s with you.2


  1. As Kevin Whipps wrote in his analysis of minimalist writing apps, “When it comes right down to it, there’s one way to get your writing done: You write.” 

  2. It’s fitting that the book that seems to have originated (or at least popularized) that phrase is all about iPhone photography, and the iPhone is also one of the most accessible places to write. If we are to agree, at least for creative processes, that the best tool is the one you have with you, then something like the iPhone — powerful, versatile, and always in your pocket — is the best tool for a lot of things (with apps being key). 

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