Tools of the Trade. Join #smchat #contentseries as we launch our 2017 series on tools.

Posted on January 24, 2017 by



Reflecting on a writer’s tools. Here, a pen (c) 2016 Amberwood Media

Tools for writing? If you want, start with paper and a pen. Can’t go wrong. The solution’s been in vogue for centuries. But times have changed. Look in the mirror.

A tired lot, aren’t we?

Writers today are busy. We’re slicing time in ever thinner slices. We need platforms and tools that let us move across devices when there’s time to write. We need always on, always connected, always able to capture a thought. It’s possible. But we have to have the right tools, and we have to learn how to use them.

For #smchat #contentseries in early 2017, let’s survey the major platforms for the modern writer. As we go, we’ll delve into more detail, understanding the various features, pro’s and con’s, and of course, the feedback of others who have personal experiences.

A few concepts require definition. If we can’t sort out our semantics up front, we’ll get stuck in the weeds later. So, I’ll offer these working definitions:

  • Writer. A person with something to say, and the skills to say it well.
  • Professional Writer. Someone who gets paid to write (note: it doesn’t matter how often, or how much, and it’s a great goal, now more than ever accessible via social platforms and self-published e-books).
  • Content Developer. A writer with the skills and tools to develop web-based content, bringing in images and graphics for a more visual, browser-savvy experience.
  • Tool. A software application with a specific purpose.
  • Platform. A set of integrated online tools made available by a software company.
  • Social Media Platform. A category of integrated tools that allow for the publishing and exchange of online content, with specific focus on gaining feedback from others (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Medium).

With those stakes in the ground, let’s move now to establish a tools framework for the 21st century writer. We’ll introduce these in order of complexity (i.e., “walk before you run”). I’ll offer my own nominations for our WEDS 1/25 1pm EST chat, and we’ll go from there:

  • Q1. Evernote/Note, the writer’s scratchpad. Used for capturing ideas in real time. Topic? Character? Theme? Hashtag? Capture it here, and hit save.
  • Q2. Medium, the writer’s sandbox. A safe place to experiment, practice, and float ideas that are still evolving. Medium seems ideal to polish our craft.
  • Q3. Twitter, the writer’s network. Unique among it’s competitors, Twitter is ideal for building a diverse, high-end network of thinkers, readers, and stakeholders at large.
  • Q4. WordPress, the writer’s idea/content platform. Need to develop a full concept, a brand, a business, or a message? Few places let you apply more template driven creativity than WordPress.
  • Q5. Word, the writer’s commercial/book platform. If you need the attention to markup – the mechanics of printing that make books look like books – you’ll need a tool that manages the fine print. Word may be your best and fastest way to get there.
  • Q6. Have we missed?

With tools like these available and connected, we can write virtually any place, and at any time. We can capture ideas when they occur to us. We can flesh out thoughts in our spare moments. We can steal away at the coffee shop and pound out a few paragraphs.

There are many other tools that perform these functions well, if not better. For the questions above, let’s see what else surfaces.

When we get critical mass, we’ll do our deeper dive on each set of tools.

Join us for a Twitter chat on these topics each 4th WEDS at 1pm EST. We’ll use the first several months of 2017 to help expand the above analysis as part of the #smchat #contentseries topic.

Let me know your thoughts. Would love to compare notes. Meantime, I’ll see you online!

Chris (aka @sourcepov)


Posted in: Content