Psst. The stuff you keep in the oft-referred-to “writer’s toolbox” doesn’t have to be just about style. It can help you when the going gets tough, in ways you never imagined.
Just as every fisherman has a beverage of choice (coffee? beer?), every writer should keep some fuel hanging around to power the work when the well of tricks just isn’t doing the trick. Here are two essentials you should add to your writer’s toolbox:
The Most Beautiful or Moving Passage You’ve Ever Read
We all know that writing is a kind of magic, and when you find a page or a paragraph that’s executed really well, is beautifully written and sounded, or just makes you feel ALL the feels, save it. Rip it out, photocopy it, re-type it onto a new sheet of paper, whatever you have to do; just extract it for your own personal use.
Refer to it often when you feel your passion or desire to work with words flattening out. Whatever rings for you about the paragraph or passage in question will help bring you back from the precipice of apathy and boredom.
The Best Thing You’ve Ever Written
You know what this is. Whether it’s the best paragraph out of your first novel, that poem you wrote that you’ve never shown to anybody,a beautiful page that’s never quite found a home in any of your work (but you won’t throw it away, absolutely out of the question), save it. Print out a copy and staple it to the Most Beautiful Thing we discussed a moment ago.
You can use Your Best Thing when, rather than a lack of enthusiasm, you feel your confidence waning. We all know what that feels like, and when all you see is a crappy chapter in front of you, or That One Sentence that just won’t cooperate, pull out the Best Thing and re-read it. Remind yourself that, at least sometimes, you’re actually pretty decent at this writing thing, and if you managed to cobble together something that’s that good, well, what’s to stop you from doing it again?
What else do you keep in your writer’s toolbox? Is re-reading old (but good) work of yours helpful to you? Share your opinion in the comments.