Archive for December, 2009

Tools of the Trade

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009


I’ve been getting a lot Twitter requests for disclosure on my arsenal, not only with respect to Guerilla Writing but my routine  (a rou-wha’-now?) as a whole. I like this topic, not just because I’m fond of my toys, but because utilizing variety of tools stretches my imagination in fun and interesting ways.  The muse is flexible creature, just one of many qualities that makes her sexy and keeps me coming back for more.  I write in all kinds of situations and settings:  waiting on the ferry to take me across the Potomac, in airports, on airplanes, in bars, in parking lots, in the bedroom while soothing the new infant to sleep, and in the comfortable confines of my man cave.  You get the picture. If I have a free hand and a free mind, I’ll use both to create.  Some tools are better suited for different settings than others.  Here’s my break down:

Handheld Devices


3 x 5 Notebook

My favorite handheld device of all time is the 3 x 5 inch, top-bound memo pad.  It slips right into my back pocket. I never have to restart it.  I can scribble in the thing just about anywhere and anytime. It doesn’t require batteries, power adapters, or even a whole lot of light to operate.  This versatile little pad  is the link to a younger version of me , the little kid who used to scribble stories and draw pictures of monsters while laying on his parent’s living room floor. The 3 x 5′r represents a part the imagination uncluttered by expectations.   This is probably the most important tool in my whole kit.  A life-line to Neverland.


The Palm Treo

For the better part of a year, I used a Palm Treo 750wx as a mobile phone. It didn’t take long for this handheld device to become a writing tool.  I used it to write notes and book chapters, including chapters of Harvey and Eden.  Not the optimal tool for hammering out prose, I used the Treo in a time before I owned a laptop with an functioning battery, but had to capitalize on what little free time I had.  I made the device work for me and I even grew to dig the wee keyboard with its raised buttons–it felt right beneath my thumbs and I quickly developed tactile memory of the miniature QWERTY.  By the end of the tryst, I was quick and deadly with the Palm Treo.


The iPhone

The iPhone was a serious upgrade.  This little device had me walking on sunshine and hugging strangers at random.   Regardless of the fact that I couldn’t keep my hands off the iPhone’s shiny touch-screen, I didn’t tinker with the “Notes” application for quite some time.  Once I did mess with it, I wondered what took me so freaking long. The Notes App’s digital representation of yellow-lined paper takes me right back to Ms. Miska’s 6th Grade creative writing class.  Visual appeal aside, Notes is a handy tool for jotting ideas while pumping away on the elliptical machine or standing inline in the grocery store.  I riff-write with Notes in the middle of the night, while pacing and swaying my 6-week old back to sleep post-feeding.



The laptop  is a glorious invention.  Especially if you’re anything like me and aren’t afforded any sort of “environmental guarentee.” The laptop frees me to crank out short stories and book chapters in my car, in the pub, in bed, in the postpartum ward of Loudoun Hospital.  What’s better than a lap dance from the muse, on demand and on the go, no less? I wrote my first two novels on a Texas Instruments laptop between sets at rock gigs, in the devastation that was my apartment, and in the late-night calm of my (then) girlfriend’s apartment. It’s been more than five years since I used that dinosaur and after some Dell action, I inevitably went Mac.  Currently, I’m on a MacBook Pro. If you’ve used one, you know it’s a sex machine.  I catch myself wanting to lick it from time to time.  Whether it’s docked at my desk or on the move,  I love creating with this computer.  It’s like using a favorite guitar, everything about it feels right in my hands.  My studio setup is anchored by a simple and slim Mac USB keyboard. They keys are great, mimicking the feel of the MacBook Pro’s keyboard pretty closely.

Feel is important when it comes to the tools that I use to create. Especially with respect to keyboards. On first drafts, I like to go fast and the Macbook Pro’s built in keys along with the ones in the external keyboard enable me to do that.  When I really get going, the sense that I’m typing is almost lost.  The result that can have is obvious.

There is more payoff from using different tools than just the flexibility to write where ever and whenever.  By switching things up, my imagination is not reliant on any one implement to get the show rolling. My creative brain functions independently and the tools are merely there to help me capture whatever shakes out.

Photo Credits:

Toolbox, by Dipster

Notebooks, iPhone, and Studio by Phil Rossi

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