9 Invaluable Tools I Use As a Writer

I am so nosy about other writers’ tools and processes. It’s a glimpse into genius, a map toward emulating the creative weirdos I admire most. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “If I just buy the perfect pen/notebook/writing software, I’ll suddenly be brilliant!” but behind-the-scenes rundowns on other writers’ tools also remind me that we all start with the same basic supplies: something to write with, something to write on, and something to say. If they got to where they are with just those three things, I can get to where I want to be, too.

In that spirit: here are the 9 tools I use most often as a writer. I’d love to hear about your faves in the comments!

Large hardcover ruled Moleskine notebooks. These are my favorite for daily journaling, as I’ve told you before. On their creamy pages, I document my days, process my feelings, make gratitude lists, brainstorm dreams and goals, and connect the dots of my various patterns and neuroses. I would not be able to function as a person without journaling, let alone function as a writer. But my journals are useful for more than just word-vomiting my feelings: I also refer back to them when writing about personal experiences. They’re a time capsule of feelings that felt intense at the time but may have faded into forgetfulness in the intervening weeks/months/years. Plus they’re real fucking pretty.

Pilot Precise V5 pens. I’ve been using these for god knows how long. They are just perfect. I love them. They play well with Moleskine paper – neither leaking through nor requiring excessively long to dry – and they feel luxurious and fancy but aren’t overly expensive. Please bury me with a few of these pens strewn throughout my casket. I’ll probably still need ’em in the afterlife.

Post-it notes. I use these for to-do lists. As much as I’d like to have the zen focus to mentally set myself goals at the beginning of the day and then just get ’em done, I am much more motivated by physical reminders of what I’m trying to achieve. So at the start of a big work day, I usually write my most important tasks on a post-it and stick it to my computer so it’s always staring me in the face. And then I get to feel like the goodest good girl as I check things off the list. Score!

My iPhone’s Notes app. Simple, yes, but always useful. This is where I keep the blog post ideas that come to me while I’m away from my computer. I also take notes in there when I’m testing sex toys I’ll be reviewing, because it’s not always ideal to have to type notes on a laptop while jerking off. (I like my Macbook too much to get lube all over it! …most of the time, anyway.)

My Macbook Air. AH, SWEET MYSTERY OF LIFE, AT LAST I’VE FOUND YOU. I bought this last year after lugging around my old Macbook Pro for years. The Air is so much smaller and lighter, ideal for my purposes as a writer who does much of her work at coffee shops and other out-and-about locations. I thought it might not have enough power to do all the stuff I need to do – edit podcasts, for example, and occasionally edit videos – but so far it’s handled all I’ve thrown at it with aplomb. (Including, sometimes, the aforementioned lubey fingers.)

Evernote. I started using this note-taking and organization software in journalism school and it continues to be useful on the daily. I can keep digital “notebooks” about individual projects (blog posts, writing assignments, podcast episodes) as well as more general notebooks for other, non-work things (travel, lists of goals, gift ideas for loved ones). I find it most helpful for huge, complex assignments requiring multiple interviews and lots of research, but it really helps me organize everything I ever work on.

Google Drive. A friend turned me on to Drive years ago when I complained that I kept losing my writing progress when Word would crash unexpectedly. When you write in Drive, not only does it auto-save continuously, but you can also access all your stuff from any internet-enabled device. I keep my sex spreadsheets on Drive, as well as my income spreadsheet, any active pieces I’m writing, and any file I want to have access to on several different devices. What’s more, upgrading your Drive storage to 100 gigabytes costs just $2 a month, which is a steal. I keep everything on there!

Spotify. I am always listening to Spotify. I am listening to Spotify as I type this. ALL HAIL SPOTIFY. It’s a music streaming service but also music organization software: you can make playlists, share them with people, discover new artists that are similar to the ones you already love, and so much more. I have a playlist called “I’m a Writer” which I typically groove to while I’m writing; most of it is minimally distracting instrumental music that keeps me energetic and focused.

WordPress Editorial Calendar. THE BEST PLUGIN! I’ve been using this for about a year and it fills me with such glee. Its drag-and-drop interface allows me to see upcoming blog content at a glance, laid out in a calendar format, so I know exactly where the gaps are and can fill them in accordingly. I can also move stuff around with ease, incase I decide that no, the world actually isn’t ready yet to read those 3,000 words about an obscure kink of mine, or whatever. If I had to marry a WordPress plugin, this is the one I’d choose!

What are your favorite tools for writing? Geek out with me!

  • Tyler Giesel

    Awesome, thanks for the tips. The only obscure tool I use for writing /notes Ect. Is my rocket book, erasable notebook with an app for scanning the pages and uploading them to wherever you want (google drive Dropbox, Ect.)

    • That sounds fucking amazing and now I need to get one.

  • If I’m writing physically, which is rare, I love stone paper notebooks. Have you ever written in one? The paper is weird and amazing, and the pen glides so effortlessly on it.

    Productivity-wise, I’d be nothing without the Chrome extension StayFocusd. Particularly its “Nuclear Mode” which blocks me from accessing all websites (except those on an exceptions list) for a period of time.

  • I moved to OneNote from Evernote a while back because I have way too many devices to get along using the free plan, and definitely couldn’t afford a Premium subscription. To be honest, I greatly prefer OneNote nowadays. No device limit, and I find its features to be more robust than Evernote, even without plugins. I use it for everything, I have like 20 different OneNote notebooks, and having those keeps me on track when I work on four different devices. So if anyone here has too many devices and not enough money for Evernote Premium, I suggest trying OneNote. (It’s also accessible!)