Tools are good, commitment is better.

Although I have a robust set of tools for my trade, I find myself constantly coveting new tools.

Just today, I’ve been flirting with the following:

  • A new iPad (the iPen note-taking functionality that my old iPad doesn’t have is very seductive)
  • A new email program
  • A new program to collect and collate research materials
  • A program to underline and annotate PDFs on iPad

And today was not an unusual day. The truth is that for any characteristic craft, there is an entire industry creating ever better and more seductive tools. And any of these tools would be of value to me; I don’t want them just for the sake of novelty or vanity.

But the fact is that they will not transform my work, either. My job is this: to write these lines. Reading, thinking about what I read, and reconciling and converting these concepts into something that is of value to others.

A lot of fancy tools out there can lessen the friction of doing this job, yes, but they are accessories. I could do the job with a printer, a pencil, and a word processor.

The commitment to do what I do every day – research, read, write – now that is irreplaceable.

Tools are something that makes your job easier; don’t let them (or the lack of them) keep you from the actual work.