5 Reasons to Read 7 Essential Writing Tools by Marni Freedman

The cover of the book, 7 Essential Writing ToolsI recently read the book, 7 ESSENTIAL WRITING TOOLS THAT WILL ABSOLUTELY MAKE YOUR WRITING BETTER AND ENLIVEN YOUR SOUL. Or for brevity’s sake: 7 Essential Writing Tools. Full disclosure: the author, Marni Freedman, is a friend and writing coach that I have known for years. However, she didn’t pressure me (or even ask me) to buy her book. I paid full price for it on Amazon, without her knowledge. I just wanted to check it out. And here are the 5 reasons you need it.

  1. There are only 7 of them!

Everyone knows my affinity for lists. Well, 5 may be my favorite number, but 7 is a close second place (See? I even number my numbers!) I like seven because it feels good, was John Elway’s number, and because it’s a lucky number. And with only 7 Tools, it’s easy to keep track of them, implement them, review them, and remember them. It’s not a complicated system, just a list. In fact, I’m pretty sure she wrote this book with 7 tools just for me.

2. It will enliven your soul.

I’ll admit, I was skeptical. A book on writing that will enliven your soul? Come on! I said, rolling my eyes. But the truth was that as I flipped from one page to the next, I felt my inner critic melt away and slink off into a corner. I felt my inner sun push the clouds away and remembered that inspiration always lies within, whether I’m tapping into it or letting it lie dormant. I felt truly inspired and supported, and everything felt so doable. It’s not a bunch of gobbledygook of complicated plans that you must follow without fail. It’s flexible. It’s human. It’s introspective. And it’s all possible.

3. It’s fun.

Marni writes in a fun style, and I can hear her voice in every sentence, followed by her laughing at the adventure that is writing. I hear her playfulness and her supportiveness, and I want to get to the next page and see what fun story she’s going to tell next. I particularly like the stories of her son Ben, who reminds us all that imagination is not to be trifled with and is the most magical and natural thing in the world.

4. The tools are actually useful.

Yes, really. In the first hour of reading, a light bulb came on in my head. In the second hour, I grabbed my notebook to jot down some new goals and ideas. Every hour of reading turned on a new light, until the inside of my head and soul looked like the Vegas Strip. It’s easy to take notes, follow along, record your progress, and backtrack if necessary. The beauty of the tools is that they set you up to succeed, not fail. They’re also not an end, but a process that is ever-changing and developing, so these tools can be recycled no matter how many times you’ve used them, how experienced you are, or how old you are.

5. It feels like a hug on paper.

Marni is one of the most supportive and understanding people on this planet, with a real knack for getting people to open up. She is ever patient and gentle, even during moments of tough love. You may not ever get the benefit of knowing her personally, but you can still reap the benefits here. You can feel her encouragement leaping off every page, urging you to be your best self, and forgiving you if you fall short. It really feels like a hug on every page, reminding you that what you have to share with the world is special and unique, whether you are writing a memoir, a dystopian fantasy, or a textbook. She gets it, and she gets you.


5 Reasons I Love Lists

List with Pencil

Just 5 Things came about because I love lists. Five is a bit of a random number, but it’s a great one because it elegantly coincides with holding one hand up to count things. It’s more robust than three things, and less fussy than 10 (I personally hate top 10 lists in general). But I love lists and will continue to make them until the day I die (which hopefully won’t be anytime soon). Why do I love lists? Let me count the (five) ways:

  1. Organizing my thoughts. When I have a bunch of things swimming around in my head, making a list always helps me sort them out. I can see in one easy place what needs to be done, what can be grouped together, what is urgent, and what can be done later. I can decide if I want to do the group of errands, or the writing, or the fun. My brain doesn’t have to store the information because I wrote it down.
  1. Prioritizing. I can see what is urgent. Sometimes the most urgent thing is washing the dishes. Other times it’s getting groceries. But usually, it’s writing. It may be the third or fourth or eighth thing I write down, but I can do it first once I see how it stacks up to the rest of the list.
  1. They’re quick and easy. Making these lists takes all of five minutes (you see how I love the number five?). And they’re never done. I may make a list that has four things on it, then do a couple, then realize a couple of other things I forgot to write down and add them. I don’t have to make a new list if I don’t want to. But ultimately, I haven’t spent lots of time and trouble poring over what should be on the list. I just wrote it down and got started.
  1. They measure progress. There is no greater joy than seeing how a list changes from week to week. One week, I may write down “brainstorm novella idea.” The next week it becomes “outline novella.” Then it becomes “Write Chapter 1,” and before I know it, I’m writing down “edit first draft.” It feels good not to write the same thing over and over again, and when I find that happening, I take a hard look at my goals and motivations to see if this is something I truly want. If it is, I do that first, before anything else so I can write something new the next time. I call this eating the frog (doing the most difficult thing first), but I don’t remember where I got that expression. Eating the frog motivates me. I do it once, then move on to eating cake.
  1. Crossing things off. Okay, I lied. There is no greater joy than crossing things off the list. I love seeing a list of things with lines through them at the end of a day, weekend, or week. Or month or year for that matter. Each line is a small (or BIG!) victory, and a lesson in productivity. Sometimes I get to the end of a day that didn’t feel all that productive, and I take a look at the list. What felt like ‘doing nothing’ was watering the plants, writing a blog post, catching up on Game of Thrones, washing the dishes, buying a birthday card, paying bills, doing laundry, reading, showering, exercising, and taking the dog for a walk. We may not feel like we’re doing things a lot of the time, but lists can show us what we do so we can be proud of what we accomplish every day.

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