Tools Don’t Make The Expert, Knowledge Does

Chris Brogan said something in his Hemingway’s Pencils post last week that really hit my hot button:

Moleskine Notebook and Pilot G-2 Pen

No one ever asked Hemingway which pencils he used to write his books. The tools aren’t the thing. The effort and the content and the promotion and the connection and the networking and the building value are the thing.

This is an important distinction as people still equate the knowledge and experience of using social media tools with the quality of the work someone does, and whether they can call themselves a social media expert.

I have used Moleskine notebooks and Pilot G-2 pens for over six or seven years. I have used computers to write since 1986. I have gone through hundreds of legal pads. But none of this makes me a good writer. Knowing the best words to use to convey an idea, knowing how to construct sentences for maximum impact, knowing how to string ideas together, knowing how to tell a story. Those are the things that make me a good writer.

However, to listen to some of the “no social media experts” crowd, it’s the amount of time that I have used my writing tools that make me a good writer. And to hear their argument, I lose my expertise each time I switch to a different writing tool. Switch from pen to computer? Start all over, your pen writing knowledge is useless.

The point is that it doesn’t matter how long I have used a tool, it’s what I do with those tools that make me an expert. It’s not how long I have owned a particular pen, or if I switch to a different brand of notebook (as if). It’s the knowledge and experience that I bring to my writing that does it.

My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available for pre-order on I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy, who I also helped write Twitter Marketing For Dummies (another affiliate link).