“I thought you were a carpenter,” my friend sort-of joked. “That’s not a very straight line you cut!”
“Well, like my brother Mike taught me,” I replied. “You can’t do great work with junk tools.
He had invited me over to help him build a shed and assured me he had all the tools we needed. He did have all the tools; the problem was they were old, dull and cheap.
I snapped the chalk line on the plywood, grabbed the cheap, old saw with a dull, warped blade and did my best, but my best was awful.
I was young then and made my living as a carpenter and was accustomed to working with the best tools available. My buddy’s saw would have been tossed into the dumpster immediately.
I love woodworking and buy the best tools because I can’t do great work with junk tools.
I’m a writer and the same is true; I buy the best tools because I can’t do great work with junk tools.
Here’s what happens when you use junk tools:
- It is impossible to create quality work.
- It causes enormous frustration to the skilled person trying to do quality work.
- It sets you up for failure. At that time in my life when my buddy asked me to cut that line, I was so good with a quality saw that I could cut a factory edge from a chalk-line, but with his junk saw, it was terribly crooked.
- It limits your productivity.
- It keeps you from improving. No amount of skill and expertise overcomes junk tools.
Here’s what happens when you use quality tools:
- You can create quality work.
- It creates joy in you to use a quality tool. Right now as I write, I’m writing on a $1,500 dollar MacBook Air. When I write on a $300 PC, I want to throw it out the window.
- It sets up you up to be successful.
- Quality tools help you improve; they make you better at what they do.
- They are worth the extra investment because they last longer.
Try this little exercise sometime for the fun of it to see if you agree with me:
Go buy the cheapest ink pen you can, grab a piece of paper and write a paragraph about something you did today.
Then buy a nice pen for $10 or more and do the same thing. I bet you’ll agree with me, the quality of a good pen makes writing much more enjoyable and you do better work.
You can’t do great work with junk tools.