Tools of the Trade by Lauralynn Elliott

This post came to me the other day when I was in Staples. I walked in and immediately inhaled the lovely smell of…office supplies. Yes, I admit I love that smell. If I had lots of money, I could spend all day going crazy in that place. I love office supplies, computers, and all kinds of gadgets. Okay, you ask, what does this have to do with writing? Let me see if I can explain.


There’s just something motivating, at least to me, about tools. I practically salivate over ink pens. I love pretty paper. Those of you who handwrite your manuscripts, doesn’t it make you feel great to have that pretty ink pen (maybe even in a color!) and the notebook with the totally cool cover? It just makes you want to write, doesn’t it?


I want to mention a few “tools” that I think make writing more fun and interesting. Maybe some things that might spark that idea, maybe bring back that motivation.


Pretty pens and paper. I’ve already mentioned this. I can’t even imagine writing a whole manuscript by hand, but I have several friends who do, and if that’s what works for you, at least do it in style.


Writing software. I’ve always written in Microsoft Word. I have friends who’ve used Scrivener for a long time, but I always balked against it. Why did I need it? But I finally went through a tutorial, and then I knew I had to have it. It has all the pretties, and it was fun playing with them. The biggest thing, though, is it made it easier to plot…something else I balked against. After I purchased this inexpensive software, my motivation went up. I feel more professional for some reason, and I’m being more productive. I know it’s a trick on my brain, but it works. If you’re interested, you can find the software here. Pssst! You can download a free trial!


Word count spreadsheets. I used to use boring spreadsheets. I was all about the spreadsheets, but they were still kind of boring. Then I found a site where they had all kinds of very powerful spreadsheets with THEMES. Now, when I go to my spreadsheet, I have Sam, Dean, and Cas watching me. (If you don’t know who they are, you should probably get a different spreadsheet, LOL.) You can find those here.


Various writing aids. Here’s a handy-dandy story blueprint from Susan Bischoff. If you feel overwhelmed, remember Susan is very detailed. You might be able to use only part of it (like me), but the more you work like this, the more this makes perfect sense and will help a lot. Also, Kait Nolan, our fearless leader, has some helpful downloads (which also include spreadsheets) here.


Craft books. Here is where I have to do the bowed head of shame. I’ve never read a craft book. EVER. But I’m going to change that. I’m mentioning craft books because I know they can be very useful to writers. I’ve had them recommended to me. I know they can make us better writers. So here are the two I plan to read: On Writing by Stephen King (because he’s, well, the KING). and Story Engineering by Larry Brooks (because I see this one recommended a lot by authors)


What tools do you use? Which ones refresh your motivation and make you WANT to write? Or are you thinking, “Is she crazy, how do tools help?” I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Lauralynn Elliott




  1. I love Scrivener, use it for all types of writing and also MultiMarkDown, a tool for which you can use with Scrivener to post web page posts on your blog or website. I write and format an article in Scrivener and then export as an HTML file and load into MultiMarkDown, tweak as necessary for look and feel and then copy and paste the HTML code to WordPress text page on a new post and Volla! your post is done, all formatted and as you want it, you just have to add images if you like.

    These two tools are my loves for writing together with. Many thanks for the spreadsheets you mentioned, had a look and they look very useful.

  2. I haven’t used Scrivener yet, but I’ve been thinking about downloading the free trial and seeing how I like it. I’ve heard so many good things. Thanks for all the links–those word-count spreadsheets will come in handy. 🙂 (The one I made for myself is very basic.)

    If you’re looking for writing books, James Scott Bell’s craft books are my go-to resources. “Revision & Self-Editing” and “Write Your Novel from the Middle” are two of my favorites.

    Thanks for a great post, Lauralynn!

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