Obsession with Tools

Last year I wrote, but I also wasted a lot of time not writing. I read more and wrote a book while procrastinating writing another one.  Looking back I can see a good deal of fake work performed – work that did not move the ball forward but felt like work – and one specific case of this type was an over-obsession with tools.

With great shame I present the following screenshot from my present day machine:

I also used 750 words and Draft and played around with any new writing tool I hear about (latest: The Most Dangerous Writing App).

11 tools to type? Why did I do this?

Because it felt like work – it felt like I was a professional – and so I gave myself a break.  I would get ideas for the book or work so I did need a way to capture these quickly and easily, and Evernote was a solid solution for this.  It would be nice to have a tool that easily stored the chapters and allowed exporting to Kindle, etc.  But these items distracted me from the core work of writing the book.

At the end of the day, you don’t need that many tools to really work.  After I was cranking away my toolset got real simple:

  • Plain text or markdown stored on Dropbox.
  • Evernote for idea captures.

That’s it.  The real tool isn’t some software or hardware it is time.

All of the time I spent evaluating tools I should have instead been establishing a daily ritual of writing.  That habit, once established (even 15 minutes a day) trumps any gain in productivity by a tool.  Feedback from that process (such as “it would be nice to tag things easily for searching” or “I wish I could export this to PDF and print easily”) should have driven tool purchases and not things like “this one looks cool” (OmmWriter) or “I think I need this one to really be a writer” (Grammarly).