Many people don’t think about tools when it comes to writing. All you need is a laptop or a pen and paper and you’re good, right?
As writers, we know that’s wrong. If we want to be successful and efficient at our craft, there are certain tools that are good to have. With Christmas being tomorrow, I think it’s a good time to talk about some “stuff” that’s super useful when it comes to writing. It may be too late to add these things to your Christmas list, but you can always use a gift card or make it your goal to get them next year.
Keep in mind, though, that just like the most important part of Christmas isn’t all the “stuff,” all of these writing tools are not the most important part of writing. What’s most important is the writing itself – practising your craft and penning meaningful stories.
But, you know… The stuff doesn’t hurt, either.
Most of us already have this. As writers, we get ideas in all kinds of places, so it’s important to keep something you can jot down ideas on. You may think you’ll remember the idea, but more likely, you’ll get distracted and forget all about it.
This is why I keep a small notebook and pen by my bedside (in case of cool dreams!), on my desk where I work, and in my purse. A phone is an easy thing to use as well, but I don’t like keeping my phone around all the time and I prefer the feel of pen and paper.
The bottom line is: have something portable to take notes with. You’ll thank yourself later.
I believe that one of the best things you can do for your imagination is travel – even if it’s right down the road to the park. Seeing new sights, hearing new sounds, having new experiences… All of these things are what fuel our imaginations. Sure, we can get good ideas just sitting at home, but I always encourage writers to take their writing somewhere else once a week if they can.
This is why it’s also useful to have something you can type on that travels with you. A notebook and pen work too – in fact, that’s my favourite way to write! The only problem is that it’s not very efficient, which is why I suggest a keyboard instead if you’re doing some serious writing.
The keyboard may just be your laptop; or, if you don’t like carrying that around, you can always use a tablet with a keyboard, or even find a Bluetooth keyboard that hooks up to your phone! I’ve also been looking into paper tablets, which would make “pen and paper” writing much more efficient, but as I haven’t used one myself, I don’t have a specific one to recommend yet.
If you’ve read my fiction writing guidebook, The 10 Lost Elements of Storytelling, you’ll know that there’s a whole chapter dedicated to editing. Most people (myself included) can’t afford an editor on everything they write, so using grammar software is the next best thing! My personal favourites are Grammarly and QuillBot AI, which both have free and premium versions. I only have the free versions, but I’ve been saving up for Grammarly Premium.
It’s so important to put out well-edited work. I see too many books – actual, published books – that are riddled with grammar mistakes. It makes me instantly form a negative opinion of the book and, if it continues, stop reading altogether.
Good Home Setup
Most likely, you do the majority of your writing at home. That means you really need to have a good setup if you want to be able to maximize your time as a writer. Ideally, you want a space free of distractions where you can shut the door and just be on your own with your imagination.
If you’re writing several hours a day, you also want to think about your health and posture. Typing on a laptop all day every day simply isn’t healthy, but there are some tools you can acquire to make your setup more ideal. (This is the kind of setup that I have, since my main writing tool is a laptop!) You can check out the article there for more details, but the essentials are: a laptop stand, a keyboard, a mouse and mouse pad, and a chair that supports your back. I also wear compression gloves to give my wrists some support.
Unfortunately, you can’t buy inspiration, but you can buy things that will inspire you! There are plenty of books out there that are geared toward getting your imagination working; I really like Write the Story and 642 Things to Write About, both of which have helped inspire many of my stories.
In addition, as a writer, you should always be reading! Reading fuels your imagination like nothing else, so make sure you’re putting some money aside for that book budget. It really helps to read in the genre(s) you write in. Not only does it help you understand the market surrounding the genre, but you can also get some good ideas while reading other people’s good ideas!
What kind of writing tools do you use? Are you hoping to get any for Christmas? Let me know in the comments!
Oh – and Merry Christmas!