Being neurotic, obsessive creatures, we writers tend to develop attachments to certain tools of the trade. These days, those tools often take the form of iWillWriteYourNovel software programs, tablet computers that cost two years’ salary (as if you received such a thing) but allow you to work on your book in the bathtub, or whatever invention comes closest to providing an uninterrupted, socially acceptable caffeine IV drip.
I won’t deny that I love my electronic toys and my caffeine, too. But my three “must-have” writing tools don’t consume a byte among them, can all be had on the cheap and don’t keep me awake when I ought to be recharging my writing brain. The common factor in all of these non-digital tools is that they allow me to capture bits of conversation with characters or snippets of scenes whenever and wherever they occur to me, before my porous brain has the chance to let my thoughts escape while I search for something on which to write them down. And one of these tools even lets me work on my book in the bathtub.
My Favorite Tool: The Dive Slate
Divers take notes under water.
Think about that fact. You know what that means, don’t you? Divers have to have something to write on. A paper notebook won’t get the job done.
Solution: the dive slate.
I keep an 8” x 10”, two-sided dive slate in my shower with a special pencil attached, purchased together for $10 at Scuba.com. I’ve drafted blog posts, essay outlines and scenes for my novel on that slate. So often, ideas that eluded me at the keyboard suddenly burst into my mind once I’ve stepped into the shower to forget about the day’s frustrations. The dive slate enables me to preserve my thoughts before the process of shampooing, rinsing, toweling off and getting dressed washes those epiphanies away. When the slate gets so crowded with barely legible script I can’t possibly fit anything else on it, it’s time to transcribe my notes. I only keep about thirty or forty percent of what I’ve jotted down, but that filtering process serves an important function of its own. Once I’ve sorted through all the notes, I wipe the slate clean and begin again. [Read more…]