What is your writer's toolbox missing_


Have you ever been working on a home project, then discovered a new tool or device that significantly streamlined the process or sped up the project? Such a eureka moment! What if such “tools” existed for writing?

The Writing Routines site recently posted Pens, Paper, and Processors: What 18 Bestselling Writer’s Use to Do The Work, which allows us to peek into the toolbox of some of our favorite authors. Enjoy this excerpt:

Microsoft Word or Google Docs? Or Both?

“I use a Mac with Word for Mac. I can’t work with anything else. The intuition built into the Apple lineage is my intuition. Whoever developed that way back when for Mac, it was built for people as computer dumb as me.”

 Steven Kotler, a New York Times bestselling author, an award-winning journalist and one of the world’s leading experts on ultimate human performance.

“I use Microsoft Word in part because I see no reason to change, but I probably also use Microsoft Word because I’m being lazy about change. I will say that I think Google Docs are an impediment to productivity. Anything that takes us online runs the risk of diverting our attention”

– Paul Shirley, former professional basketball player and author of Stories I Tell on Dates

“I have a love-hate relationship with Microsoft Word, which I use for all my book and script writing. The View/Outline feature allows me to expand and compress a document or move chapters or snippets of the material around with ease.”

 Dr. Barbara Oakley, bestselling author of A Mind for Numbers and former Army Captain

“I use separate Google Docs for each [working chapter] but there comes an important inflection point in my progress, where I begin to combine these independent chapters into one Word Document. I basically go from online writing to offline editing and re-writing.”

 Ryan Holidaybestselling authora ghost-writera columnistan essayist, a Grammy-award winning producer, and book marketer


“Scrivener has a set of tools that make long-arc writing projects super easy. I am a non-linear writer, meaning that I often write books from the inside-out, and Scrivener allows me to tackle sections of the book at a time and move them around later instead of having to work through the project in linear fashion. It also helps me stay on track by giving me a daily word count that keeps me on-course for my manuscript target.”

 Todd Henry, author of The Accidental CreativeDie EmptyLouder Than Wordsand Herding Tigers and is the creator and host of The Accidental Creative Podcast

I write books in Scrivener because I find it the easiest to jump around and organize ideas without having to incessantly scroll. That’s my style. I jump around a lot, from idea to idea, chapter to chapter. Then I go back and edit it to make it cohesive. I need a tool that satisfies that style of working.”

 Jeff Goins, Bestselling author of five books including Real Artists Don’t Starve and The Art of Work


“Evernote is hands down my most important tool as a writer. I spend a lot of time taking notes and organizing and outlining everything before I get down to composing.”

 Shane Snow, journalist, entrepreneur, bestselling author of Smartcutsand Dream Teams: Working Together Without Falling Apart.

“All day long, I capture ideas using the app Drafts. These get dumped into Evernote, where I have a folder full of ideas and prompts for when I’m feeling dry in the creativity department.”

 Jeff Goins, Bestselling author of five books including Real Artists Don’t Starve and The Art of Work

Not Just Any Pen

“I get out one of my quadrille ruled engineering pads and a sharpened Palomino Blackwing pencil (I keep a Staedtler manual pencil sharpener beside me), and I set out three short tasks. One of them is doing a Pomodoro (25 minutes) on whatever I’m writing.”

 Dr. Barbara Oakley, bestselling author of A Mind for Numbers and former Army Captain

“My favorite analog toolkit is a Blackwing 602 pencil and a Moleskine notebook. Because I think I’m living in the ’30s or something? I don’t know. But I love Blackwings so much that I have one tattooed on my inner arm.”

 Shane Snow, journalist, entrepreneur, bestselling author of Smartcutsand Dream Teams: Working Together Without Falling Apart.

“Pen and paper are lovely.  I’m fond of the Pentel EnerGel and the MiracleBind notebook by Blueline.”

– Jessica Bendinger, a screenwriter whose movies have grossed over $500 million worldwide. Her original script Bring It On debuted at #1 in the box office and remained there for two weeks.

“I often sketch things out by hand first. Small notebooks with soft covers. And I’ve been using the same blue Bic pens my whole adult life. I mean literally the same pens, not just the same type of pen. I bought one package at a CVS fifteen years ago and a handful are still good. They’re the clear plastic ones with the ridges, not the opaque white ones. I should write to Bic and tell them. I don’t know what I’ll do when they all run out.”

 Aaron Thier, Author of The Ghost AppleMr. Eternity, and The World is a Narrow Bridge and recipient of a literature fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.


“During my research phase, my favorite tools are 4×6 notecards and these photo storage boxes. The entire book is outlined and organized on these cards and filed accordingly to which part, which subsection the thoughts or research on that card will be put towards. So each book will literally be made up of thousands of these cards, which are often synthesis from books I’ve read, interviews I’ve done, random thoughts I’ve had and so on. The cards are done by hand—pen, pencil, whatever is close.”

 Ryan Holiday, Ryan Holiday, bestselling authora ghost-writera columnistan essayist, a Grammy-award winning producer, and book marketer

“For books, I obsessively outline on index cards that I post on a large cork board in my office – each card represents a new scene, and that’s how I write chapters.”

 Bryan Mealer, author of The Kings of Big SpringMuck City and the New York Times bestseller The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind


“Waiter’s pad for ideas. Why waiter’s pad? It’s cheap to get 100 of them. It’s not a big notebook so you can’t write a diary. just a list of ideas. And it’s always a conversation piece in meetings. “I’ll take fries with that burger” is a joke i hear ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of the time in meetings and then allows me to explain why I have a waiter’s pad.”

 James Altucher, author of Choose Yourself, listed as one of USA Today’s “Best Business Books of All Time,” and Reinvent Yourself, a #1 book overall on Amazon.com.

Bigger Pads

“[I was] introduced to the most elegant solution by a friend, the author Ashley Cardiff: A sketchpad. A 9-by-12-inch artist’s sketchpad. This has been my great revelation. It’s unlined so I can read my bad handwriting and large enough that I can group several ideas together on the same page. Plus, it gives me an excuse to buy fancy mechanical pencils.”

– Liana Maeby, author of South on Highland, which actor/writer BJ Novak called “the kind of book kids will steal from each other.”

Even Bigger Pads!

“For outlining and structuring a book or even a chapter, I often use a giant pad of paper, the kind that sits on an easel. They’re not cheap (about $30 for 100 sheets) but they allow a view of an entire storyboard or outline at a single glance, and have room for all kinds of arrows, exclamation points, and other notes. I got this idea from a film producer I know who keeps storyboards of his projects on the wall of his office. The ability to see a story represented as a whole – without needing to advance screens or flip pages—has been a revelation to me.”

 Robert Kurson, author of New York Times bestselling books, Shadow Divers and Pirate Hunters

Whether you prefer Word over Docs or pencils over BIC pens, we hope you’ve been inspired to add a few new tools to your writer’s toolkit.

At Certa Publishing we desire to equip our writers with all the tools and resources you need to bring your manuscript to life. How can we help you today? We’d love to hear from you.

What is your writer’s toolbox missing?

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