Writing is one of those funny occupations that, on the outside at least, does not appear to require a lot of tools. After all, other than your physical writing materials, what more could you possibly need? Well, you might be surprised. Like any trade, there are little extras that not only make for a better end result, but make the job itself easier and more enjoyable.
With the exception of a few basic tools that all writers need, it’s really up to you which tools you choose to use. The tools you carry in your writer’s toolbox may differ to the ones in mine, and the next writer along the line may have a bit of a mix of both toolboxes. Here are a few of the items in my toolbox:
Vaio E Series Laptop - I love my Vaio. It’s reliable and sturdy and does everything I ask of it without exception. I’ve be lost without it. I do all of my writing on my Vaio and find it very difficult to write on anything else. I’ve never been that good at writing longhand and avoid it unless I have no other choice. Happily the Vaio is not very heavy so it’s not an issue to take it everywhere with me – which is precisely what I do. Whatever you do choose, get the best you can afford – this is your number one tool.
Notebooks – Although I don’t write longhand, I do use notebooks and have them all over the house, in the car, and in my bags. It means I can jot down ideas when I have them (don’t worry, if I’m driving, I get TMoTH or one of The Offspring to do the actual writing), grab quotes, or simply put down thoughts.
Digital Recorder – These are vital if you’re working on non-fiction in my opinion because unless you are a short hand star (and I’m not, trust me on this), you are going to miss or forget something. Using a recorder makes life easier – especially if you invest in one that you can plug straight inn to your computer. Even better if it auto-transcribes….Oh come on now, laziness is such an ugly term, I prefer to think of it as …. being efficient…..
Dictionary and Thesaurus - If the last dictionary or thesaurus you purchased was in highschool, run now, do not walk, to your nearest book store and buy a new one. No – I don’t want to hear any excuses, if you’re a writer, you need one of these. I know, I know – there are a million websites you could use. I use them too. Trust me though, there will be a day when you are unable to get online (yes, yes it brings me out in a cold sweat too but it happens) or you are working longhand and you will need that dictionary. Besides if you have school age children, you are going to need it on spelling nights.
Dropbox.com - I discovered Dropbox last year and I love it. I save all my work to dropbox and can then access it from any computer anywhere. Simply hit save as and choose to put your work in the appropriate dropbox folder, like you would any other time. If your computer dies overnight, your work is safe and can be accessed from any computer, anywhere. You can share folders with Dropbox, so no more confusing multiple copies of documents, and I store all my photos and images in it so they don’t clog up my hard drive.
Dictionary.com – Yes I know I told you to buy a dictionary, and I still want you to, but don’t forget to use this site as well. If you’re out and about, in a hurry, or the kids are doing their homework and using the physical one, use this site. Dictionaries, physical and electronic, are your friends.
How To Write Shop – Brainchild of Lori Devoti, How to Write Shop is a great place to get started if you’re looking for online writing workshops. By far the most useful, though, is the Writing Craft tab with great articles on almost every aspect of writing.
She Writes – A great community for women who write. Fantastic for talking about your craft, getting support and finding new friends. A lot of helpful information.
World Literary Cafe – Recently launched, World Literary Cafe is very active on Facebook and Twitter, providing a great avenue to find and support other writers as well as connecting to readers as well as publishers and other industry players.
Social Media – This might seem obvious, but social media should absolutely be part of your writer’s toolbox. Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads are the most obvious – but there are so many out there to help you raise your profile, market your work, and most importantly engage with your readers and industry. It’s not just about tweeting “I have a new book out, go buy it”, it’s about sharing. No, you don’t have to tell your readers what you had for breakfast, and you don’t need to spend all day playing games or reading book reviews. But these are great places to meet people, get answers to questions, and find out what people are looking for in your genre. It also pays to remember that many younger readers have grown up using these sites and it is their first stop for information – the first question my kids ask is not “do they have a website?” but “do they have a facebook page?”.
Brandyourself.com - This is a great little site that has the option of both free and paid membership and helps you boost your google rankings. With this site you can bury that story about the other Joe Bloggs who is really not nice and keeps popping up when someone searches for you. It helps push your identity to the top in a positive manner.
I can think of many, many more resources I use daily when writing – so perhaps a second post is in order? In the meantime, why not share some of your favorites with us – who knows, you might have just the tool I’m looking for.