Everyone works to the beat of their own drum. Everyone has tools that they like to use. The following are some that I have found most useful.

Laptop or Computer It goes without saying that a computer is essential in this day and age. I do almost all my writing on my laptop unless I go to write in a café. Then I take a notebook. I no longer need to print out pages and pages of hard copy then send it to my publisher via snail mail. All my manuscripts are sent through electronically. Of course, if you are sending your ms out as a submission it has to be in hard copy.

External Hard drive or some kind of backup I use a wallet size external hard drive that backs up my whole computer. I carry this around in my bag with me because I’m paranoid that my laptop might get stolen. The beauty of the latest Macs as opposed to a PC is that you plug in your external hard drive and Time Machine automatically backs up your entire Mac, including system files, applications, accounts, preferences, music, photos, movies, and documents. And it not only keeps a spare copy of every file, it remembers how your system looked on a given day — so you can revisit your Mac as it appeared in the past. Mozy and Dropbox are another way to store files. They are online storage sites, downloadable for free up to a certain size. But they are only good for small files.

Work Table When I work, I surround myself with bits of paper, print out of chapters, reference books, my breakfast, post it notes etc etc so I need a heap of space. I try and tidy my desk and give it a dust and a wipe down once a week. All right, that’s a lie, it’s more like once every two months. A bed is great to have in your office, if you have a dedicated writing room. Sometimes you just want to keep writing and writing without disturbing your partner. It also doubles as a large surface to spread work on.

Printer A reliable fast printer. I use a black and white laser printer. I don’t need colour as I only want to print out documents mostly chapters for me to edit.

Mechanical Pencil Since becoming a full time writer and using the computer everyday, my handwriting has suffered to such a degree that it is almost impossible to read. It’s become like the scrawl on a doctor’s prescription, like the muddled scribblings of a crazed person. So when it comes to editing my work, I use a mechanical pencil. It is a pleasure to work with. The point is fine, there’s no sharpening or mess and the lead lasts forever. I use an HB with a O.5mm lead and my writing is amazingly tidy. It even has a neat little rubber in the end. I love my mechanical pencil.

Internet You need high speed broadband access. When you’re writing and you need to search the internet for a piece of information, you don’t want to be waiting around to be connected. By that time you’ve lost your train of thought. The most recent novels I’ve been working on are historical and I’m constantly googling information.

Spare Paper Lots of spare paper to jot down notes, or a good filing system like file cards or a note book. I use both. But since I’ve begun to use Scivener, I don’t need to use much paper at all. And my table top is no longer a mess.

Scrivener This writing tool is something that I have recently discovered and I love it. It is particularly good for my current WIP which involves a series of four novels. I can see on the one page each novel with individual chapters and all my research. Scrivener is a word processor and project management tool created specifically for writers of long texts such as novels and research papers. It won’t try to tell you how to write – it just makes all the tools you have scattered around your desk available in one application. And it’s cheap. It only costs $40 Aus.

An Understanding Partner A patient and understanding partner is essential in any relationship but doubly important for writers. Writers need to spend many hours alone without interruption. The best type of partner is one who is not only interested in your work but is a good editor as well. I am blessed in that department.

Then of course you need filing cabinets and bookshelves and good lighting and all the other miscellaneous things that go with running an office.

Okay, now that the basics are taken care of, all you need is to take your imagination and let it SOAR….

4 thoughts on “TOOLS OF THE TRADE

  1. Thanks for a really informative post. The wallet size external hard drive sounds like a great idea. I’m paranoid about losing my laptop too.

    Unfortunately, satellite broadband is never what you call ‘high speed’ but its still better than dial up.

    I’ll have to investigate the mechanical pencil too, and I still need to get around to buying Scrivener – thanks for reminding me.


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