[Book Review] Every Tool’s A Hammer, Savage

My favorite books include writer’s resources because they help the reader express through writing better how they interpret the world. Communication like this is useful in all situations. Although Adam Savage freely admits not to be a narrative writer in Every Tool’s A Hammer, he does offer similar resources. If you can learn to maintain your workspace, document your to-dos, and most importantly, work with deadlines, then you can achieve your goals; whatever you’re making.

Rating: ★★★★★ [5/5]

Let’s focus on deadlines.

Having recently completed writing a novel within a 30-day deadline, I can admit that reading this section about their importance helped solidify my feelings toward deadlines in general. They can motivate us toward achieving what we might not otherwise want to do or think is possible. As Savage explains while working on set designs, models, and other mechanics for movies, if he was given more time, the work wouldn’t get done any better. That sort of crunch can be formative toward the work itself. Pressure chambers can reveal the best in things because it removes all superflua.

Let’s continue with this 30-day novel deadline.

For future novels, I will still work within a deadline, but I will extend this out to a 61-day deadline [I’m roughly thinking June to July], because I no longer need to “prove” to anyone that I can write a novel and I’ve already built the framework around how I will write future novels. I will probably write within the same 30-chapter, 2,000-word, but instead of aiming for 2,000 words per day, I’ll aim to write a meager 1,000 words of fiction per day. This is a more reasonable working pace and I will achieve the same results, without the pressures of having to carve out the roughly three hours per day to write that amount of content.

Let’s segway that thought into “cooling fluid.”

The tools of Savage’s trade, as a tradesperson, are primarily mechanical in nature. If the tools in his trade burn up, chances are it was either due to working too fast or not using the appropriate maintenance substances – literal cooling fluid. For writers, our tools are our minds and our laptops, and if we tax either one, we’ll have a burned-out computer or mind. These are more subjective, because a computer will run for 14 hours without complaining or 30 days of intense focus without complaining, but if, say, you throw a process-heavy game onto the computer or a resume-generating event onto the work schedule of an employee, then it will cause havoc.

Let’s, then, consider, a writer’s cooling fluid in regards to writing tolerances.

Writing a 1,000-word essay or review can be just a matter of dumping some thoughts into a text editor and saying to yourself, ‘I could probably write a better review, one that is less subjective, but for now, this will do,’ publishing it, and moving on. From cooling fluids, Savage segways into tooling tolerances, with regards to what you’re building. If you’re building something that requires exacting precision, then your tolerances have to be exacting. If you’re just building something for fun, or a ‘but for now, this will do’ attitude, then you can have looser tolerances.

Let’s consider how that relates to writing a novel.

On the last day of my 30-day jaunt, I spent 10.716667 hours editing for continuity. Even if my brain is specially wired and enjoys this sort of thought process, that still means that I was working that number of hours trying to sort out last-minute details. Making sure character names matched, matching the tone, and even remembering to check to see if timestamps were accurate. Those are more exacting, tighter tolerances. Readers years from now can find nuanced mistakes in the novel, but in a review like this? You may find a mistake in something I wrote in one, possibly two, thoughts, and didn’t edit? Congrats. Here’s your editing participation award. There are times for both tighter and looser tolerances, and over 30 days, especially when working from looser tolerances, that much precision can cause issues.

Let’s consider how continuity relates to novel-writing through to-do lists.

I kept a list of list of things I needed to check, including, completing the novel, then editing the novel to an acceptable point. Savage writes about a strategy for gaining momentum with long-term projects, where he’ll list out everything that needs to happen with the project – his specific example is building the Blade Runner gun with all of the nuances required for an exacting replica – first as just a braindump, then order it neater, then think about anything else that may be involved, before structuring the to-do list, then going through the list.

Let’s consider how we often forget about what we’ve done.

Throughout that month, I wrote 60,000 words. The last time I looked at my published word count on WordPress, it was around 720,000 words. This novel constitutes 8% of all the content I’ve published here. If I cross that box out and forget about it, as I have with my ever-updating word count, then I’ll forget about how far I’ve traveled, on my route to figuring out how far I need to go. For situations like that, keeping track of project or career milestones can help maintain a healthy level of motivation on good and bad days.

Let’s consider, then, how we can maintain our workspaces.

For builders like Savage, that means cleaning up his shop nightly and putting away tools to where they need to go. For writers, since all we need is a device that can accept the input we throw into it, I can finish this review anywhere, which differs from makers like Savage, but the whole reason why I’ve brought myself into so much of this review isn’t strictly out of ego, rather, this should exemplify the amount of resonance I’ve had with the book. This isn’t just a book for people interested in a celebrity from TV.

Every Tool’s A Hammer suggests one possible framework for improving how you build frameworks for yourself.

Quotes: None.
Sources: Besides the book itself? 10 Bullets. Also, my personal and professional experiences.
Inspirations: While I was cataloging that I finished reading this book, here, I realized that I should write a review since it was helpful.
Related: Other 2019 Novel writings and Book Reviews.
Picture: I don’t have a workspace of any sort, and really, all I need is a laptop with a network connection, ideally, in a secure environment. Otherwise, I can write anywhere where I can hideaway for a few minutes.
Written On: December 3rd, 2019 [38 minutes, from 12:41am to “all we need is-” at 1:14am, then from 3:30am to outro at 3:35am, Gdocs]
Last Edited: December 5th, 2019 [Gdocs and WordPress differ in how they count words, so I added some words to make this review an even 1,000 words for publication. Would this be the second draft, then?]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.