Picking the right tool for any creative job

How many writing apps do you think exist today?

There are more options for writing tools today than ever before in history. Of course, more than writers are being crowded by so many options for creative tools.

Today, photographers have an almost endless number of choices to go through for cameras and lenses and software. Painters can choose from brushes with real horse hair bristles or synthetic ones, wooden core brushes or plastic or even titanium ones. Artists can choose to start with a pen and lined paper or grab the latest tablet for drawing. No matter what type of creative field you are in, there are dozens or hundreds of options on what tools you can use. So what’s the best way to decide on the right tool for you?

Simple: stick to what you need, what you know, and nothing more.

When shopping around for creative tools, you have to focus on one attribute and only that one attribute. Ask yourself if the tool accomplishes exactly what you need it to do and nothing more. What would you need all of those extra features for really anyway?

In the beginning of any creative endeavor it simply doesn’t matter what extra features or elements come with your tools, you simply need something that can do a basic job right. That’s all that matters when you’re starting out, even though it’s tempting to go for the more advanced or fluff-filled tool. A writer doesn’t need a dedicated writing machine, for example, if she has a pencil and a sheet of paper and is simply looking to get started with writing – writing anything at all. It doesn’t even have to be a very big sheet of paper.

A photographer who is just starting out only need a camera that can take photos and have film developed. (Film! Remember that?) Until you have mastered the basics of a beginners tool, there’s absolutely no reason to find anything more powerful or useful or feature-rich. Anything beyond the basic necessities is absurd. You should start with a tool that only covers the basics, so you can dedicate your time to mastering them.

As you grow with experience, you’ll find that the basic tools don’t provide you with what you need anymore.

Perhaps you’ll wind up needing more control over what your camera lens is doing, or you’ll discover that the synthetic nylon bristles on your paint brushes don’t give you the right type of stroke. As you work with basic tools you’ll quickly learn what works and what doesn’t work for you, but because you’re starting with something simple – without a ton of features or extra accessories – you’ll be better tuned-into what you need more, or less, of in your next tool.

Find what can get the job done for the cheapest price or in the quickest manner and stick to that. When you really can’t do what you want to do with that tool any longer, you’ll know that it’s time to upgrade. You can use the times when you change tools to recognize your growth as a creative, not just someone who gets the best or fastest or most advanced tool in the toolbox just to appear like a pro.

Photo by Brian Snelson.