First thought...Wow! That's cool.
Second thought...Hmmm, that's kinda similar to a spreadsheet I use, but for entirely different purposes.
Third and subsequent thoughts led me to ponder my writing toolkit, and most especially the "Wow! That's cool" reaction. Because I think, judging by the comments on Gary's post, a lot of people see things like that and think "What a great idea" followed by either "I must try that" or a plaintive wail "I'm not that organised. I'll never be a proper writer like him!"
I'd like to inject a bit of balance to counteract both of those extremes, which I think can be damaging (especially to frail writerly egos struggling for acceptance, battered by rejection, or overawed by the arcane business of publishing.)
So, I'm embarking on a series of posts, of indefinite length, duration, reliability, and even more dubious authority or quality, to look at what kinds of tools are out there and how to decide which ones might be right for you.
What this is not
This series is absolutely not about the craft of writing. Oh, no no nonono! What the heck do I know about that? I write from the heart, instinctively, untutored. Any coherent sentences emerge entirely by accident. So there'll be no talk of story arcs, or three act structure, or character development.
This is not about MS Word documents v. spreadsheets v. index cards v. Snowflake Pro v. good old pen & paper. Yes, I know those are tools, but not the kinds of tools I'm talking about. For the purposes of these discussions, all the above are just different kinds of media that you can work with. In the kitchen, for example, maybe you need a spoon. Whether it is wooden or metal or plastic will depend on your needs at the time, but the spoon (something to scoop up stuff with) is the tool. Similarly if a writing tool is based on a two-dimensional table, then it's up to you whether you are more comfortable using Word, or Excel, or engraving it with a chisel into your kitchen counter. The table, and what it contains, are the important things, not what media you build it in.
What this is
This is all about equipping yourself with tools to help you with your writing. More importantly, it is all about making conscious choices about what tools to use, and when. My mission is to equip you with one tool to rule them all! A framework of questions to ask yourself, and things to think about.
The framework has a few different parts to it, which I'll delve into over the coming weeks, such as...
Function - what are you trying to achieve? It's kinda stating the obvious, but you use a tool for a purpose. You wouldn't try to cut a piece of wood with a hammer, for example. But I wonder how many people see writing tools, which are largely conceptual, the same way? A carpenter's toolkit is built around a fairly small number of functions: cutting, marking, drilling, screwing, nailing, for example. So what functions are important to writers?
Scalability - some tools perform the same function, but maybe one is good for a high level view, while another is needed to handle volume or detail. What scale are you working at?
Preference - how you like to work can make a big difference in what tools are right for you. Are you a planner, a pantser, a big-picture person, or detail-oriented?
More to follow...