The Incidental Tools of Writing


Being creative is cool. But it can deplete the brain juices.

Creativity requires novel experiences and periods of rest. Staring at your computer screen and forcing the work out isn’t always the best solution.

Here are some unexpected tools I’ve discovered for priming the pump of ideas.


Pro: I have a pearl blue 1980- Schwinn Traveler with a plastic Darigold milk crate zip tied to the back rack. It’s corny and ugly but also rad as hell. My bike seems to get the most attention from old dudes who are like “hey, nice 10 speed!” Thanks, bro.

Riding my bike to work gets my brain juices flowing. The fresh air and motion are meditative and the physical exercise help get the blood flowing. I arrive in the right mindset, ready to make something.

Cons: I live in a ridiculously rainy part of the country. Riding my bike isn’t always convenient or dry. But it’s the grit of toughing it out that makes an endeavor worthwhile, right?

Pencil Sharpener, Coffee Pot

Pro: Taking small intervals to pace the office and drink a cup of coffee can work wonders. Ditto sharpening a pencil. The simple act of doing something physical or tactile can break up the monotony of typing typing typing.

Con: These small reprieves can quickly become distractions or, worse, excuses to procrastinate. I’ve spent entire mornings drinking coffee and writing down ideas, switching from one project to the next without actually producing anything worthwhile. Make sure your reprieves serve as intervals of rest in which you reset your brain, not convenient excuses to quit.


Pro: There’s no internet on a typewriter. There’s no backspace (at least on my model). There’s only one way forward and that’s to type it out. If I’m stuck in hesitancy land sometimes I’ll move over to my electric typewriter and just write the darn thing out sequentially. Often I surprise myself with what I can produce using this method of not thinking too hard or critically.

Cons: People think you’re weird for using a typewriter. You’re labeled a hipster or a Luddite (which is worse I wonder?) and your loud clacking, if done in public, will warrant a lot of eye-rolling. Such is life.

Who cares?

Deadlines don’t often move. As a creative type, you need to find ways to get good ideas and get them out. Adaptability, a change of perspective. Artists understand this intuitively, and that’s why they’re always doing weird things that no one really understands.

Find what works for you and get those juices flowing. Your work depends on it.

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