Every writer needs a certain set of tools in order to write. And, trust me, it’s not as simple as to just pick up a notebook and write. It might be for some writers (mostly intuitive writers,) but for most of us, there is a need for much more than just a pen and paper.
If you wish to become a professional writer then there are some things that you need in order to get started and some things that you need in order to help you write consistently, making it not feel like a task. For this I have come up with a list of 10 things that any writer who wants to write regularly must have.
Out of these some things you’ll need right away, while some things you can get over the course of time, so don’t think that you need these tools to begin writing. You just need them to be able to write regularly. Especially if you are planning to write a book or a story.
Following is my list of 15 Essential Tools for Writers that are a must for any writer who wants to write professionally and hopefully full-time someday.
10 ESSENTIAL TOOLS FOR WRITERS
1. PERSONAL WRITING MACHINE:
The first and most important thing a writer needs in order to write is a writing machine. A lot of people are of the opinion that writing can be done on a simple notebook and that they don’t need a machine for it. I agree with the first part of that statement, but not with the second one. Here’s why – imagine writing a 60K-80K words long novel in a bunch of notebooks and then having to TYPE the entire thing just because no publisher would accept your handwritten manuscript.
You see the point, yet?
You can write in a notebook, no question about it, but the thing is at some point you’ll have to type the entire thing, so why to waste all that time (or money in case you get a professional to do it for you) when you can simply type your notebook. If you are serious about your writing then I am sorry to break it to you but you need to type it on a computer/laptop or tablet. And no, you can’t use a phone to write your pieces simply because it’ll be a nightmare for your eyes as well as your mind after the first couple of thousand words.
So what you need is a personal writing machine. Why I say ‘personal’ is because you will have a lot of files, a lot of document, folders and pictures related only to your writings to be having to share your machine with anyone. Having said that, you absolutely do not need an expensive machine, you can go for a basic 2nd hand laptop too. All you need is a personal writing machine which you can use to write.
If you are planning to buy a new machine then I’d highly recommend MacBook Air.
2. WRITING SOFTWARE:
Now that you’ve got your own machine, the next thing you’ll need is writing software. Why I have it here at the 2nd place is because as a writer you’ll be spending a lot of time using it, so make sure that you explore all your options and choose wisely.
There are tons of writing software in the market these days, but the most popular one that is used by most writers is Scrivener. It is a one-time buy and you can totally get it but I don’t use it myself as I find it too complicated to be worrying about while working on my writing. I’d recommend it to writers who are planning to write fantasy novels because it has some great planning tools and most of the self-published writers swear by it as it compiles the book and produces it in any desired e-book format.
But, if you are a beginner and find it better to use simple things (like me) then go for the most basic ones:
- Microsoft Word for Windows
- Pages for MacBook
I personally use a 50-50 mix of Pages and Word as it serves me well. I do the initial drafts on Pages and the later ones on Word as my editor uses it. Also, in the latest versions of both these softwares, you can compile the document into e-book formats. So better start simple.
3. NOTEBOOKS OR JOURNALS:
Having a writing machine is never enough, trust me. There will be times when you’d want to either write down your ideas or develop them in longhand. So you do need notebooks or journals with you.
If you are a beginner and don’t know what kind of notebook or journal you may need then go for simpler ones. If you buy expensive notebooks or journals you’d face a form of writer’s block that will prevent you from ruining a good notebook/journal. So buy the rough ones in which you can squiggle easily and won’t mind if you end up ruining them with you ‘not so good ideas.’
Also, try and maintain a Morning Words or Morning Pages journal and fill it with 200-500 words every morning. This brilliant writing advise is by Julia Cameron and she writes in detail on this in her book The Artist’s Way.
4. Reading Material:
If you want to be a writer, you’ll have to read. Read all the book you can get your hands on, especially the genre you want to write in. But don’t get too stuck over on genres, try and read a mixture of books because reading teaches most of the things you need to know about writing. OS unless you read at least 3-4 books a month, you won’t get very far in your writing.
You can always buy books from shops or online or from sale or seconds. If you want to explore cheaper and better options then get e-books or a library membership. Also, there are millions of free books you can simply download and read on your laptop or phone if you don’t have an e-reader through websites like Project Gutenberg and Librivox.
Bottom line is that you NEED to read.
5. Language Guides:
If you don’t already have a guide for the language you write it, then get one today because grammar is one hell of a tough cow and at some point or the other you’ll need it for guidance. So better be prepared. As they say, practice makes one perfect and perfecting your grammar can go a really long way in helping you to improve your writing.
Again, a lot of people believe that they don’t need to be good in grammar for writing. You don’t have to be perfect, agreed, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn it to get better. You need to constantly grow as a writer and trust me, there is no bigger turn off than a writer with poor grammar, no matter what language you write in.
6. Writing References:
Being a writer is a tough job and one needs to constantly keep on learning and growing in order to get better at their craft. Writing talent is a gift, but the craft of writing and the skill of a writer has to be learned and constantly improved. Any art form is a learning curve and so is writing, the sooner you accept it the sooner you can learn to allow yourself to grow and become better. And the best way to learn this amazing and multi-faceted craft is to read writing references on writing.
Some of the best books on writing that I recommend to all my students are:
- War Of Art by Steven Pressfield
- On Writing by Stephen King
- Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
Every writer has a thing for the printed words. Whether you have already realised this or not, but chances are you would be completely exhilarated to see the words you’ve written printed on an A4 sheet of paper in a font of your liking. Personally, it gives me a kick and love, absolutely and shamelessly, seeing my work in print. Therefore, if you want to be a serious writer I would advise you to get a printer as it gets very handy to print out your work even at midnight.
Also, there’s a more technical reason for this, it always helps to edit better in print. Even if you just want to revise a draft or proofread it, printing it out would give you far better results.
You don’t have to get it right away, but do start looking for a good fit for your writing. I would recommend getting a black and white printer. I use an HP Laserjet printer, even though I have a colour Deskjet.
8. Internet Connection:
A writer needs the internet more than anyone will ever care to admit. It is not only necessary for writing-related research but is also needed in order to create and establish your social media platforms. Now again, there will be a lot of differing opinions on this, but if you want to be a professional writer you have to get your ‘out there’ and for that internet is the best possible tool.
If you are a beginner, I’d highly suggest starting your own writing blog and posting there regularly, interacting with the blogging community as well as with the writing community in general over at Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. As a writer, you need to have, if not a very significant, then at least somewhat strong social media presence.
You can get a broadband connection or a WiFi connection whatever floats your boat. I personally prefer and use WiFi.
It is a sin to not have a backup of your work, at least the work you are proud of creating and that is worth saving. Especially if you’re working on a book, it gets very difficult to have to lose the work and then start over. It is simply the stuff of nightmares so start smart and back up before you burn your fingers.
There are enough horror stories in the online writing community about writers having lost entire manuscripts because of silly mistakes, out-of-the-blue glitches or their writing machines bailing out on them. Always backup your work.
The easiest and the cheapest way is to email it to yourself or using a simple Pendrives. You can even go for free online cloud storage such as Google Drive or Dropbox. Or you can invest in a hard drive or buy online cloud storage space. Anything works as long as you back up regularly.
10. STATIONERY SUPPLIES:
If you love writing then chances are that you love buying stationary. They both kinds of go hand in hand. I am a big-time stationary freak and love buying supplies as I hate the thought of running out of something. Being a writer is a good enough excuse for you to indulge in a little stationery splurge and get those cute little sticky post-its and the index cards that you like.
If you love writing then chances are that you love buying stationary. They both kind of go hand in hand. I am a big time stationary freak and love buying supplies as I hate the thought of running out of something. Being a writer is a good enough excuse for you to indulge in a little stationary splurge and get those cute little sticky post-its and the index cards that you like.
Some of the things that you need by your side while writing are:
- Pens (in black, blue, red and green colours) and lead pencils
- Compact notebooks or diaries
- Index cards
- Whiteboard and markers
- Tagboard and clips
- Paper pins
- Stapler & pins
- Folders and files
- Scheduling calendar
- Bullet Journal (if you’re into them)
Apart from these tools, there are a couple more that you might need:
- Speech Recorder
- Speech-to-text software
- Whiteboard and/or tagboard
- Headphones or earplugs or some good Bluetooth speakers
- A good playlist – try some music that helps you write
So these are the 10 Essential Tools For Writers that I think every writer needs in order to write with ease on a day-to-day basis. Please feel free to add more to this list in the comments section below.
If you are planning to write regularly then do check out these articles cause they might help you get started: