Grab your favorite writing tool.
What if I stole it? Could you still write? Or would you postpone your session until you pried it from my thieving hands?
If you stole one of mine, my word factory would shut down until I got it back.
Since my favorite writing tools help me ditch writer’s block each day, it’s possible my creative self couldn’t function without them.
Here’s a rundown of the seven tools I use daily, so you know what to look for, if you break into my couch-side office. Or just in case you’re looking to add a new block-ditching tool to your writing life.
1. Sticky Notes
Every night, before I crash on the couch with Malbec and Netflix, I transfer 3 to 5 items from my 2,000 mile long to-do list to this manageable three-by-three inch square.
Blocks Ditched: overwhelm & procrastination
Without this ritual, my list overwhelms me and invokes analysis paralysis. Nothing gets done.
By tapping my optimism for tomorrow’s possibilities each night, I can choose crucial “will-do” writing tasks with confidence. And since I align it with a Ditch The Block game, I complete this list at least 90% of the time.
Fun Alternative: window art. Check out this video for inspiration.
2. Index Cards
I keep a short stack of these next to my laptop, so I can jot down any random thoughts and research items that pop in my head, while penning early drafts.
Blocks Ditched: distractions & lack of focus
Without these cards, I’m easily lured down the rabbit hole, which leads to exploring topics that have nothing to do with my current project.
Or worse, I find myself asking Siri things like, “Can you make a crane out of an index card?” Once my phone lands in my hands, session’s over. Email, social media and Google searches gobble up my precious writing time.
With index cards by my side, I jot down a random thought and turn back to my early draft without skipping a beat.
Fun Alternative: origami. You don’t need fancy square paper to make a jumping frog.
3. Drawing Pad
Mindmapping in my sketch pad is the closest I’ll get to being just like one of my favorite cool-kid creatives…visual artists.
Block Ditched: no direction
Without a mindmap, a simple blog post balloons into an epic reading experience that rivals a Victor Hugo novel – only it’s miserable for you, my dear reader.
My kid-self feels a delicious sense of freedom when asked to brainstorm in a drawing pad – not so much with printing paper, napkins or mindmapping software.
Fun Alternative: paper airplanes. Here’s how to fold The Sprinter.
4. Ultra Fine Point Sharpie Pens
I can’t read what I jot down on a mindmap, will-do list, or index card with any other pen. Although Monte Blanc’s Shakespeare fountain pen could be the exception. Got one I could test?
Block Ditched: lost ideas
I’m convinced the best ideas I ever documented are stuck in illegible form. Someday, I hope to decipher these magic-filled glyphs.
In the meantime, I’ll stick to adding color to my note-taking life with these easy-to-write-with pens.
Fun Alternative: zentangles. Check out this gorgeous source of inspiration. You’re right. This isn’t nearly as fun as drawing colorful mustaches on a napping loved one’s face. BUT, keep in mind, regular sharpies work better for that, anyway.
5. Apple’s Notes App
I use this app to free write first drafts, create quick links to research files that live on my computer’s hard drive, AND write on the go. Holy cow! This might be the Swiss Army Knife of the writing world.
Blocks Ditched: fear and disorganization
Nothing causes all thoughts to flee from my head like creating a new doc in a traditional writing app. Probably because it unlocks the fears and perfectionism that haunted me in the past.
Working in Notes feels like penning a note or email to a close friend. I’m relaxed. That and I feel organized. Huh?
Yep, because I embed links to reference material, which I can access in a nano-second. No more digging through my hard drive or piles of paper on my desk during my drafting sessions.
Do your best ideas and solutions to writing problems reveal themselves while you’re away from the office? Mine, too!
Since Notes on my laptop, sync to my iPhone, I can weave ideas into a note, while commuting or running errands.
Hey Windows and Android users. Does this remind you of an equivalent you use? Please, share it with your fellow Write 50 crew mates. Your generosity can score you a Ditch The Block coaching session.
Fun Alternative: doodles. Yep, you can doodle in Notes for iPad or iPhone.
6. Evernote Web Clipper
I clip blog posts, emails and webpages to this digital scrapbook. That and I tag each resource to make it searchable.
Block Ditched: email overload
Does your inbox taunt you throughout the day? Mine does.
The longer an email sits in my inbox, the more likely I’ll never open it. And the higher the unread message count, the more preoccupied with email, I get. Blahhhh!
So, I set aside time each day to skim my inbox for nuggets to clip to Evernote. Then I add tags like coaching, writing tips, screenwriting nuggets, etc.
It’s cool if I never read the clipped piece. At least I know it’s available if I need to call on it during a research session. More importantly, my inbox no longer taunts me.
Fun Alternative: recipe box. How about clipping Hemingway’s Mojito to it?
This has been my go-to word-smithing tool since I broke up with Microsoft Word in 2014. I’m so smitten with this free Office alternative, I’d pay a handsome fee to keep our union in tact, until death do us part.
Block Ditched: Frustration
If a quirky bug exists in MS Office, it crawls all over my writing session. Why Microsoft? Why do you hate me? It couldn’t be because I’m an Apple fan-girl who will never switch, can it? If so, whatever!
Guess what? I can output LibreOffice documents to the .docx format. And a client never needs to know. Freedom from quirky bugs rocks!
Fun Alternative: architecture. You can draft new plans for your living space in LibreOffice Draw.
With that, did you find a tool to steal? If so, adapt it to make it your own. That way I won’t recognize it and take it back.
Also, I double-dog dare you to share your favorite tool with the Write 50 crew. Yep, we might steal it, but at least you’ll be left with a chance to win a free Ditch The Block coaching session.
The free Evernote Web Clipper app
Reliable, easy-to-use LibreOffice