10 Essentials Every Writer Needs
Some people might think all a writer needs is a laptop, a notepad, a pen, and plenty of ideas. Those certainly are important, but any freelance writer knows it's not always as simple as that.
From office and desk tools to go-to resources and phone apps, there are so many essentials every writer needs at their fingertips to help them work efficiently, block distractions, and make sure their writing always sounds good. I wrote a blog on this same topic a few years ago, but looking back on it, I feel like it only scratched the surface.
So here are 10 essentials every writer needs, with a few holdovers from that previous post.
Could any of these help you as a writer?
1. Lap Desk
Obviously, you want to use a desk or table to write your best stuff, but sometimes writers find themselves typing away on the couch, in bed, or while on a long car ride. Lap desks are great for making these situations a bit more comfortable. I got mine from Best Buy a few years ago, and it has really come in handy during long car rides or if I want to switch up my surroundings. You can click on the image to learn more.
2. Voice and Call Recorder
These are free phone apps, and all you do is turn them on before you do an interview or make or accept an important call. No more shorthand note-taking, asking the person on the other line to repeat what they said, or wondering if you got the quote right. If you are using it to record a client or source for an article, it's probably a good idea to let them know. The bottom line is that these are perfect examples of essentials every writer needs.
3. The Chicago Manual of Style and AP Stylebook
Stylebooks and style manuals, published in hardcopy and online for easy access, are tremendous resources for those of us who spend our days trying to figure out the English language. Which one to use depends on you. The Chicago Manual of Style is used by editors, authors, and publishers of books, etc., while the AP Stylebook is for those writers and editors in the newspaper and public relations world.
4. Varidesk Laptop 30™
There are so many compact standing desk solutions that the team at Varidesk has created. I went for the simple laptop version, and it has worked out perfectly. Granted, this isn't a necessity by any means. But it's a luxury that I've found has improved my posture and helps me keep plugging along when I'm tired of sitting on my butt all day.
5. Evernote or another note-taking app
Stay organized and jot down those notes and ideas while you're on the move with apps like Evernote. I can't tell you how many times I've been in a meeting or sitting in a waiting room or at a stoplight and had inspiration strike. Being able to pull out my phone and keep track of everything has saved my butt on more than one occasion. There have even been a few times that I've written an entire shell for a blog using the notes app on my phone.
This is a perfect example of essentials every writer needs. Imagine standing in the shower and needing to write something down. Using your finger to jot notes on the steamy glass isn't practical, so someone way smarter than all of us created waterproof notepads that come complete with suction cups for the shower wall and a waterproof pencil. I swear by them. You will never lose another great idea. You can watch a brief video from my YouTube page above.
7. Noise Canceling Headphones
The "noise canceling" or "noise isolating" part is a stretch depending on your surroundings, but these headphones are a great tool for minimizing distractions and improving concentration. This is helpful if you do most of your writing in a loud newsroom, busy coffee house, or in a home office that sometimes doubles as your kids' play area. I use Beats by Dr. Dre, but there are many other great brands.
This online grammar checker is well worth the yearly fee for the simple fact that everyone needs an extra set of eyes on what they write. Grammarly doesn't just correct basic spelling mistakes. It also improves your writing style and picks up on improper word placement and various other things you might never catch on your own. It can be installed on any computer as well as on your phone.
9. Transcription Software
The downside of using digital voice recorders or smartphone call recorders is that I have tons of transcribing to do when I'm done. Transcription software, such as Dragon, does it all for you. This makes for a more efficient writer.
10. External Hard Drive
This is definitely one of those essentials every writer needs. In fact, anyone who owns a computer needs an external hard drive, especially if you have sensitive material such as family photos and important files or documents. It's a writer's worst nightmare when the computer decides to die, and you lose everything. For that very reason, I back up all my documents on my external hard drive.
The Edit This® BONUS TOOL every writer needs
11. Google Calendar
If you are not using a calendar to manage your time as a writer – especially if you have several projects going on at the same time – then you are doing yourself and potential clients a disservice. For more information, here is a blog I wrote on 6 benefits of using a calendar. My calendar is on my phone, and I update it every single day to avoid any potential conflicts or missed assignments.
These are just a few essentials every writer needs. What did we leave out?
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*STEVE GAMEL is the President & Owner of Edit This, a writing and editing services company located in Denton, TX. Steve handles anything involving the written word. Give him a call today to help give your business a clear voice.