I've been all over the place about today's post. I know it's about writing tools, after all, this is Tuesday. Right? Tuesday? Yes. Okay. Can't take anything for granted after last week's fiasco. The thing is, there are so many tools. I thought, "I can't write about tools, I'll run out things in two weeks." But that isn't true. Now I have the opposite problem. So I'm stalling with a long introductory paragraph.
The greatest tool of any successful writer is routine. How's that for a broad statement? I'm not the first to say it, but I firmly believe it. I find lots of other things very useful, but not of them do me any good at all without routine because without routine I don't have the habit of writing. What good are a stack of notebooks and a pack of sharpened pencils if I don't sit down and use them? Regularly.
Put another way, why invent the chisel if I'm not going to chip away at the cave wall?
Routine alone, of course, is not enough. It has to be routine with structure and the fundamental building block of your writing routine's structure must be purpose. If you don't know why you are writing then you will struggle with keeping to your routine and your product will leave you dissatisfied. I certainly won't like it. I'll say something like, "Wow, this seems pointless." Not you though, as your friend I'd probably say, "Hmm. Maybe you should make your protagonist more active?" or "Your descriptions make me feel like I'm there, but what's going on?"
You should pick a good purpose too, not just any old one will do. You need to find one that has real meaning and will motivate you. I compare writing purpose and routine to exercise purpose and routine. For me, it was much easier to stick to my running program back when people were trying to kill me on a daily basis. Now that my biggest occupational hazard is not getting whiteout on my tie, running every day just isn't a priority. Running every week isn't a priority. I've even gained a couple of pounds.
I took a long break from writing fiction. I was still writing a lot, but it was only professional, lacked the routine of the everyday, and I had to settle in to each project. Six months ago I changed that. I write a couple of thousand words MORE, on purpose, every day, and my vocational assignments are a breeze – something I can just step into. Get into the routine, find the groove. Become the arrow that is not aimed.
Get on your butt and do something.