The Tools Don’t Matter

This post by author Jason Gurley speaks to me:

The work is what matters, not the tools. In fact, it’s important, too, to acknowledge that high-quality tools often discourage the work. It’s easy to feel like you can’t make a mark on that beautiful paper, can’t sharpen away the perfect core of that pencil, because whatever you’d use it for isn’t worth as much as those tools.

Well, that’s bullshit, and intellectually, we all know it, but it’s worth reiterating. That’s bullshit. I’ve heard of writers who immediately scribble all over the first beautiful page of an expensive notebook, thereby claiming the book as theirs, and disappearing the pressure to create perfection within its pages.

The work is what matters, and the only thing that has to show up to do the work is you. The tools don’t really matter, and you shouldn’t wait for the best tools to do your work, and you shouldn’t agonize over using the best tools once you’ve got them.

I used to collect beautiful artisanal leather-bound notebooks at a rate of 1–2 a year. I’d never dare put ink in them. Even Moleskines took a lot of willpower to break in. Now I buy cheap Word. notebooks in packs of 3. It takes all the pressure off and I can actually write stuff. (That “scribble immediately” method sounds pretty attractive, too; I might pick that up for good measure.)


Michael Engard was born shortly before the Berlin Wall came down. By day, he does web design and development for a marketing agency in northern Virginia. On weekends, he helps his local Starbucks fulfill its legal obligation to have at least one pretentious introvert writing a novel in the corner. He uses words like “tautological” in conversation. He will pet your dog.

Kaelri is an Internet pseudonym. It means nothing, and you’re welcome to pronounce it however you want to.