Your most valuable tool: But why?

What’s the most valuable tool you have as a writer? That’s right, it’s the ‘Write your way to Success’ app available on iPhone and Android for the reasonable price of £19.99. Get this app and you too could be the next Stephen King in four to six months.

That’s right, it’s the ‘Write your way to Success’ app available on iPhone and Android for the reasonable price of £19.99. Get this app and you too could be the next Stephen King in four to six months!

If only.

Over the last year, more as an excuse and elaborate procrastination, I’ve tried all sorts of software, websites, apps and read a mountain of books on how to write. Turns out, what all these things had in common was this – they were a decent way of getting out of doing any actual writing.

I don’t regret it at all – some of the how to write books I’ve read have massively changed the way I think of writing and improved it no end. But thinking they were some magic cheat to getting to the goal fast was a tad optimistic.

So, no. There’s no patented app that’s going to take the place of hard work, unfortunately. Don’t get me wrong, if there was one which guaranteed success, I’d be the first to make a Faustian bargain for it and with a lot less mucking about than the good doctor did.

There are lots of skills you need as a writer including patience, a thick skin, the ability to turn on insanity at will and holding down a full-time job while spending every night writing into the early hours of the morning. Those are some of the core talents you must acquire, I’d say.

But there’s one skill I hold above all others and that’s curiosity. Not the kind that makes you wonder if that so and so is dating what’s his face. That’s human nature. I’m talking about professional curiosity. The kind that has to be practiced and honed to a fine art.

I was incredibly lucky to have parents who always wanted to visit new places and try new things. As children, my sister and I were exposed to new countries and cultures, museums, galleries, etc from a very early age. It created in us the ‘but why’ factor.

Outwardly my sister and I seem to grow down different routes. She became a scientist. I became a writer. Perhaps on the face of it two different loves, but both passions have at their core a driving need to understand the world. My sister does it through hard work and complicated formulas I don’t have a hope of understanding. Whereas I take what I observe of the world, stick it into the written word and hope to stumble across if not truth and a truth.

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