Ouch! Now that was a painful span of time between blog entries. I couldn't log into any of my usual accounts and had to spend the last few months trying to convince web technicians that I am indeed ME! Such a royal pain in the... *deep breath*
Ah... so this would be a fine time to discuss the tools of the trade. (Might as well turn these lemons into potpourri.)
The most common means of writing these days is through the computer. It is wonderful! We can adjust the format to fit an intended feel. The software will correct our spelling. With the internet, you have an endless source of information references at your fingertips. Pick and choose fonts, insert pictures and even create an e-book to be easily sent to friends, family... even some publishers.
Fact is, I love writing on the computer. The computer makes life so simple during the fabrication process. I say "fabrication" because the computer does just that: it facilitates the creation of a final product. What the computer won't do is write the story for you.
The story you tell comes from within yourself and often you may find ideas, plots or character developments emerging at times that using the computer is impossible. (Example: I drive a semi-truck an average of 10hrs per day. That's 10hrs of staring the road, listening to the radio and entertaining my own thoughts. I can't very well pull over every time I have a good idea and yet I know I won't remember everything come the end of the day.). So, let's talk about tools that can help your writing no matter your situation:
1). Pens & Pocket Notepads - never be without one! Or several, even. You could be on break at work, walking through a mall or having a really inspirational moment in the restroom when an idea hits. Don't Lose That Idea! Write it down! You might decide later that it wasn't so great, but it might also be the shining gem that defines your story. Even the ideas that don't work for your current tale are useful. Keep them - for those ideas may be of use in future writings.
2). Voice Recorder - hands-free note taking. You could be driving or out for a jog when inspiration attacks. Being able to record a message to be written down later can save a lot of frustration. Now, don't run out and buy some fancy recorder. No need to spend money on something you already have. Chances are that many of you are reading this from a smart phone. Go to your App Store. You will find several free recording applications that work perfectly. Remember: you are recording story ideas... not dictating the closing argument for a murder trial. It doesn't have to me perfect.
3). Camera - take the inspiration with you. Perhaps it's a sunset or a rusty old car or a flower growing through a sidewalk that sparked an idea. Take a picture. Take a few pictures. Again, your phone is your friend. It's true when they say a picture can speak a thousand words. Problem is: you probably don't have time to stand there and write those words. Snap a picture, take it with you and write about it in the comfort of your own home.
These are three simple tools that can help you to collect writing ideas. They can also help you to bring story issues with you. When sitting at your computer writing, you may find you have hit a wall in the story. You know where you want the story to go but can't find a good way to get there. Grab your notepad and make a note - this is the issue, this is what must be achieved and this is the page where the problem sits. Now move on.
Continue your writing at the point you wanted to reach. Your notepad won't forget where your problem was and it might remind you at a later date. You may also find that the problem is solved through further writing and that precious notepad will tell you where to go and fill in the gap.
In closing, I just want to say: Every idea is golden. No matter how epic or minor - no matter if it is currently relevant or goes unused - save every creative thought. Those ideas are part of you and may prove to be the heart of your tale.