The Writer's Arsenal

Every writer has an arsenal for storytelling. Every day, since before you knew you were a writer, you’ve been building that arsenal. What's in that weapons cache of madness?

The first thing is…well…you. No one is as you as you are-- with your unique set of memories, DNA, and view on life. YOU are the first and most important thing in your arsenal.

This isn't a list of things you absolutely must have. The list is to remind you that you already have a substantial arsenal. Wherever you are in your writing journey you most likely have an impressive weapons stash.

You probably know the answer to at least one of these without much thought:

📔 What's your favorite genre?

📔 What's your favorite book?

📔 Who’s your favorite author?

📔 What's your library’s website?

📔 What's the book from childhood that stands out to you?

Exposure to and fondness for the written word will carry you far.

The rest is just practice really.

You can take college courses, get a degree in creative writing, go to seminars, attend conferences, or buy an extensive reference library--and while those would make wonderful additions to your arsenal--it’s not necessary.

Things you may have been putting in your arsenal all along:

  • A pinboard on pinterest that helps you visualize your work in progress or random bits of novel advice

  • Character worksheets filled with mundane details that you know will never end up in the final version

  • Lists of interesting words, names, places

  • A beat up thesaurus. Shoot, it could be a new one. Or it can be an online one. But you do have one you trust more than others

  • You’ve written in public, or in nature, or locked in a room with no view. Wherever you've written, by now you have a good idea of the best writing spot

  • You read articles outside your base interests like, How To Build A Computer, or, The Science Of Butterfly Wings

  • You read memoirs of the obscure and well-known

  • You study the minutiae of governmental bureaucracy or the caulk lines in a tiled kitchen counter

  • You frequently stumble onto random pieces of trivia like why purple dye was three times the price of gold or that the Spanish Flu is preserved in a few dead and buried people in a country where it’s illegal to die (true story)

  • While watching a Ken Burns documentary or Forensic Files episode, you’ll spend ample amounts of time tracking the crux of events and the motivations for actions

  • You wonder what kind of person you’d be in a by-gone era

  • You have written notes on; bits of napkins, store receipts, the back of an old term paper, your car rental agreement. Or you have a single notebook full of a variety of ideas, musings, and snippets of overheard conversation

  • You’ve been down the youtube rabbit hole. It started off simple enough; “How to tie a cravat” tutorial….then before you know it, it’s ten hours later and you’ve watched mice yodeling in Venezuela, followed a flame war between youtubers you’ve never even heard of, and caught up on the life of Baby Spice

  • You’ve written/edited the same paragraph in various styles

  • Copied the style of another author

  • You’ve beta read your fellow writer’s work in progress

  • You know Joseph Campbell’s A Hero’s Journey by heart

  • You’ve written a detailed outline and frequently consult it. Or completely abandon it

  • You’ve started a whole novel with little more than either the name of the main character, their hair color, a prominent character trait, or a bitchin’ title.

⚡My main character is a female named Josephine

⚡ Main character has purple hair

⚡ Main character has a pronounced lisp but people are too afraid of them to dare speak of it

⚡ Title: Trinity of Moons

  • You watch tutorials of things you’ll never do, like; How to do a smoky eye, building a coffee-table, how to compose a song, making resin jewelry, binding a book.

  • You read.

  • You imagine.

  • You are always asking ‘what if?’.

Man stands on giant book and shovels out light

Everything you do is part of your arsenal-- whether you intended it to be or not; it either informs your writing, shapes your experience, or excites your imagination.

You already have what you need.

It's all practice from here.

Woman sits outside at night, reading a book that shines light on her

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