I recently came across an article by Michele Filgate on Literary Hub entitled “Writers and Their Favorite Tools.” Filgate indulges in a bit of shop talk on tools of the trade, but also explores some of the nostalgia and memory behind why we use the tools we do. That, and this recent video my wife shared awhile back, got me thinking: if car enthusiasts can talk horsepower, and hunters can swap stories of guns and bows and calls, why can’t we as writers and artists and singers talk about our favorite tools? So, whatever your artistic bent is, what are some of your favorite tools of the trade, and why? I’ll start:
When it comes to writing poetry or prose, I usually get ideas when I’m out walking, so I like to carry a pocket Moleskine. I also have a larger, paperback size Moleskine for when I want to do some longer form drafting without feeling cramped. I also recently purchased some Shinola Detroit small ruled page notebooks that I’m looking forward to trying.
For writing with, I’ve long used the smooth Pilot G-2 05 gel pen. It just flows nice and lasts forever. Recently I discovered the Moleskine Roller Pen .05 mm Fine Point, which is really nice, although tends to smear because I’m a lefty. I did briefly try a Bobino pen that hides in the cover of my notebook, but I don’t like it very much because it feels too insubstantial and the writing is dry and scratchy.
Once I’ve drafted some ideas longhand, then I’ll move to my Macbook, where I use LibreOffice.
I occasionally do some songwriting on the side, but this is a slightly different process. I like to write on legal pads or three hole punch paper, so I can see the song structure spread out. And I’m usually just grabbing whatever writing implement is closest to me, since I’m trying to get the idea down before it disappears.
Once I have a song idea, I usually try to do a rough recording so I’ll remember how the tune flows while it’s fresh in my head. In the past I’ve used Audacity and Adobe Audition, but now that I have a Mac I’ve been enjoying playing around with Garage Band.
So those are some of my favorite creative tools. What are yours?
Chris is an Associate Professor of English at Bristol Community College in Massachusetts, and is also the author of several books of poetry. In 2018 he helped co-found The Poetry Pub, an online community for poets. He enjoys walking in the woods, visiting coffee shops, and poking through used bookstores with his wife Jen.