Folks talk about a Writer’s Toolbox, but do you actually HAVE one?

You constantly hear the advice when reading craft books about adding this or that to your Writer’s Toolbox. But do you actually have one? I always pictured it metaphorically until I started using Scrivener.

This will be a quick post to show you how I’ve started using Scrivener to organize what I learn.

First I created a new project called “Writing Tips” and then I started creating folders to categorize each topic. Within each folder, because of Scrivener’s awesomeness, I can either paste in text into a document, or I can import a web page.

I even have a folder for rhetorical devices, and a document for each one with examples and suggestions for when to use.

You could also cut and paste quotes from books you’ve read that illustrate either well or poorly the topic you are trying to imbibe.

I also use it to show the pros and cons of the topic, with links to folks who recommend and to those who don’t.

This comes in handy not only when I’m trying to remember exactly why a certain concept would make my scene stronger, but also when I go to critique fellow writers. I used to fumble around searching my emails for an example of something, or consult my internet bookmarks, or thumb through a craft book, etc. to provide an example of something I’m suggesting. Now I have these at my fingertips! I even have standard language that I use for that tip in my toolbox so that I can cut and paste it into my critique and modify a tad for the situation.

Told you it would be quick!

Do you use Scrivener? Do you use it this way too? How do you organize your writer’s toolbox?

16 Replies to “Folks talk about a Writer’s Toolbox, but do you actually HAVE one?”

  1. I keep reading about Scrivenor, and I think there was a discount offered for NaNoWroMo participants last year. I’m so techy challenged, though, that I balk at learning new programs. This post makes me want to look into a little deeper. Nice post, Angela. 🙂

  2. I’ve heard a lot about Scrivenor but am reluctant to try it. I’ve employed my own weird writing system for years that works really well for me. Each time I’ve tried to deviate from it, I’ve abandoned the software platforms I played around with. I either spend too much time fiddling (rather than writing) or got inhibited by limitations and restrictions.

    The buzz on Scrivenor, however, has been extremely positive so I may give it a look-see eventually. It’s certainly getting a lot of attention!

  3. I bought Scrivener (thank you NaNo discount!) recently but haven’t had time to play with it yet. I don’t know about my toolbox. Haven’t really thought about it. I suppose I keep it mostly in my head. But now I’m thinking I should get an actual, physical toolbox, cram it with helpful items and take a picture of it.

  4. I’ve heard a lot of folks raving about Scrivener, and I’m tempted to check it out. My “toolbox” actually consists of a bunch of Word docs with the manuscript and notes and all kinds of “leftovers” that I have taken out of the WIP but can’t bear to part with. LOL I also use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the various scenes, POV, what’s missing, what needs to be added, etc. I think my toolbox needs a little more organization though! That’s next on the list. 🙂

  5. I started using Scrivener only a couple months ago and am really happy with it so far. But what you’ve just described/shared is a really fantastic idea! I was also always bookmarking writing tip websites, or physically typing up tips from books or people in word documents, but it’s so tedious to try to find all of these and which one you want to refer to. This is a great idea Angela. Thanks so much for sharing!! I’m going to try this as well.

  6. I have Scrivener, and also some other organizing program. Neither one do me much good since I haven’t really learned how to use them! I thought I’d use Scrivener to keep my planned five book series in order but using it to organize how-to’s is sheer brilliance, thank you!

  7. I just have a text document where I note down useful stuff – mostly web addresses where useful stuff is to be found. But for the most part I keep my writing skills and knowledge in my head with all my other skills and knowledge.

  8. Wouldn’t want to be a dork! LOL

    Like Ella, I have my toolbox organized in a series of Word files and documents. The most important ones, like my editing list and some of the very best workshop lectures I’ve collected, are printed out and put in a three ring binder so I can find them instantly. Scrivener is intriquing, but I’m a pantster and I usually resent forced organization of any kind.

  9. Such a great idea. I STILL haven’t bought Scrivener, but I totally need to. I’ve got a ton of writing tips, mostly on printouts in binders I never use –it would be so nice to have it all digitally at my fingertips. 🙂

  10. I love Scrivener as my organising and editing tool. I write on my iPad with Writer or Writeroom. (I’m a massive fan of distraction free writing.) However, dragging web pages into my Scrivener project is not something I have done. Obviously I have a bulging “Writing” bookmarks folder and keeping these in Scrivener sounds like a great idea.
    But to pick up on the “Writer’s Toolkit” I am horribly modern, using cloud synced files across my iPad, phone and MacBook Pro. iA Writer is perfect for this. It is a super slimmed down writing app, not a word processor.
    I like to have a different environment and headspace to Writing as opposed to Compiling or Editing. I find it focuses me on the job in hand. THIS IS THE PAGE NOW – WORRY ABOUT THIS PAGE!
    Also, being able to just write a page, or even a paragraph when you are on the train, or in a queue using your phone is wonderfully liberating. We all know that words arrive at in opportune moments.

  11. While I own Scrivener and love it I find for this sort of stuff Evernote is a little bit better at organizing everything. I keep everything not directly related to a story/article I’m working on in Evernote. Then pull it over into a project if I’m working on something that requires specific reference material.

    If you haven’t given Evernote a shot I highly recommend it!

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