This should be an easy topic on the surface. Most writer can reel off a list of things they need when they write: pens, notepads, computer. But when I stopped to think about it, it wasn’t quite so easy.
Each writer is different in the way they approach their writing, so each writer’s essential tools are different. Some need only a couch, a computer, and a cup of tea. Some work best in a coffee shop, in a library, or on the beach. Others need a space to call their own, where no one interferes. Some like writing outdoors, and some can’t think if there’s anyone else about.
I have certain things I require to write effectively. Here’s a quick list of what I find essential:
- Filing Cabinet
- Binder Clips
- A Desk
- Books on Writing
- Books to Read
You can laugh at the last one, but coffee is an essential ingredient in my life A lot of writers I know have a favourite beverage they can’t live without when they write: tea, hot chocolate, water, a soda. For me, it’s coffee.
One essential not listed above is space. To be most effective, I need a room of my own. I’ve got friends who say, “Nice, if you can get it.” That is true. I started out writing at the kitchen table, then had a desk in the corner of the living room for about eight years when the kids were young. It wasn’t till we moved to our own house On Whidbey Island that I got my own office – and even then, I had to share it with my husband for a while. Once I had the room to myself, I painted, brought in a squashy couch, and some bookcases, which I filled with books, making my haven more library than living space.
We moved to Hawaii in 2013 and I found myself working in small spaces, one of them with my desk facing a wall in a sort of hall just outside our bedroom; behind me was the dining room table, and beyond that a view down to the ocean. My notebooks, binders and a few writing books were set on a board on boxes in a cramped alcove. Still, I managed to finish the first draft of two novels. I had the basics: desk, computer, printer, file drawers, files, and notebooks. It wasn’t ideal, but I made it work.
Our house on Whidbey Island sold so we left Hawaii, packed up thirty plus years of life into storage, and finding ourselves footloose, decided to take a trip to Australia. My essential writing tools for that trip were a computer and a thumb drive for back up. We took a cruise across and I wrote on the tiny desk in our cabin. My goal had been to finish the novel, but I spent more time watching the ocean go by. During my time in Australia, I was privileged to be invited to write with two great writer friends, Paula Beavan and Marisol Dunham. Thanks, ladies for the use of your table and counter.
Today, I have an office set up in one of the bedrooms of our house on the Oregon Coast. It’s not a bit space and I share it with the Wi-Fi and Internet equipment, and a box of spices for my spice business. It has two throw rugs, a dining chair and a 7′ table as my desk. I have the requisite filing cabinet, coloured file folders, binders and a set of bookshelves in the closet behind me. The printer sits on one end of the table and at the moment I have files and papers from three projects in fairly organized groups around the computer.
A printer is the other essential for me. I read best on paper. A waste? Maybe in years gone by when people didn’t recycle, but now we recycle all our paper (and glass, plastic, aluminum, tin, and anything else they will take; but that’s an entirely different blog!) I have been known to keep my previous drafts to look through later, but when a manuscript is 750 pages, I quickly run out of space. Besides, with programs like Scrivener, I can save my different drafts.
These are my essential office tools. What are yours? I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a message and tell me about your essential writing tools.