When Joshua led his troops before the walls of Jericho, they first prepared. The soldiers made ready for battle by girding their loins and shouldering weapons. Writers can arm themselves with their own weapons of war, as they face the battle of the page.
From the humble mechanical pen to the latest computer application, wordsmiths have a plethora of helps and tech toys to make writing less daunting. Whether your genre is young adult, poetry, journalism or romance, you will need to fill your tool belt.
It’s a good idea to have a few basic references on your book shelf. A dictionary, thesaurus, and Strunk & White’s Elements of Style are great go-to volumes. You can also use online resources. Bartlby.com features the text of loads of reference books.
Most writers have access to a laptop or desktop computer, while others eschew technology and stick with pen and paper for a more organic experience. Gel ink pens seem to be more reliable than the old standby ballpoint instrument. If you have problems with hand cramping, consider an ergonomic model like the Yoropen, or Pilot’s Dr. Pen. While Moleskines are elegant and durable, they are pricey (large size is $12.21 on Amazon.com). A cheaper and somewhat perkier cousin is Post-Its covered notebook (4×6 size is $4.99 at Staples). Both options are portable, which is vital for today’s on-the-go scribe.
Other travel-savvy tools are the digital camera, smart phone and digital voice recorder (Sony makes one for $33.88 that holds 500 hours). A DVR can be used for both interviews and your own notes. Wired Magazine is a trusted resource for finding the latest gadget or software.
If you crave organization, index cards and a poster board can be utilized to plot out your next novel. Simply write character sketches and scenes on cards and then place them in chronological order on the board. Writer’s Project Organizer is a computer application that takes a novel from conception to birth. Scrivener for Mac OS X and RoughDraft for Windows are two popular writing software apps.
Calendars are helpful for scheduling writing and editing, as well as tracking agent and publisher queries and contest submissions. Cozi.com makes a great online calendar with notes and lists, as well as household organization tips.
Literary creators are a sensitive bunch and like to be comfortable as they write. Some prefer a quiet room with soft jazz in the background, a crackling fire in the hearth, scented candles and a soothing beverage, while others are drawn to a lively public location with lots of noisy activity.
Whatever weapons you use to wage war with the page, satisfy yourself. Nobody else sits in your chair, but you. En garde!