A writer’s tools – what do you REALLY need?

Do you NEED a huge desk, piles of papers and a dodgy haircut?

Writing a book used to be a simple, but longwinded thing. You took some paper and a pen, and you wrote. When you got something wrong, you crossed it out and wrote it again. Then along came the typewriter and that made things neater, but mistakes still needed correction. And then correction fluid. Now we have computers, netbooks, tablets, smartphones….There’s almost no end to the number of gadgets that allow you to write, blog, compose, educate…on the move.

But what do you NEED? Obviously, if you’re blogging, you need something with access to the internet, so you can upload your wit and wisdom for the eager masses. And if you’re any kind of author, you should know that a blog is part of building your author platform (See Kristen? He CAN be taught!) So there’s an argument right there for the inclusion of a computer and router in your Writer’s toolbox.

Inspiration is a flighty thing, and it can strike at any time. A decent smartphone can let you record your brilliant idea as it occurs. Maybe you can even slot the bare bones onto Twitter for the benefit of your followers. (And isn’t it great to have followers? Like you’re some kind of prophet leading your people through the literary desert to the flowing waters of wordy goodness….) Ok, a smartphone. Which we’re definitely not getting for the games, oh no. Ooh, look, Bejewelled!

Smartphones are good for 140 characters of tweet, but writing my novel two thumbs at a time? No way. But a laptop is too bulky. Get yourself a neat little netbook, hook up to the Starbucks Wi-Fi and away you go! Proper keyboard, decent size screen, and you can even check Facebook. For your author-type publicity updates of course.

You know what’s coming, though, don’t you? All these things are lovely, and yes, to be a successful published author, you’ll need to use the internet and present your manuscript in a legible form. But to write, to communicate the notions in your ever-whirring brain, all you need is that good old pen and paper. Don’t believe the hype that says you need the latest software to write your novel, or that you can’t live without a 28inch screen for your PC. You could write a whole novel in pen on paper, and it could be just as good as a first draft in Times New Roman in Word. Yes, you’ll have to re-type the whole thing, but if you aren’t planning to do more than one draft, then you’re no writer, my friend.

Today’s secret is a simple one: To be a writer, you only have to write, and you can do that with a pen and a piece of paper.

14 responses to “A writer’s tools – what do you REALLY need?

  1. So true – and there is something solid about finishing a few hours writing with stiff fingers and that polished feeling on the side of your hand from rubbing over the paper.

    • I loved the romance of writing longhand, though my handwriting made it a pain to do and re-read. I remember being so impressed when I saw that George Lucas wrote all the Star Wars Screenplays longhand on legal paper. Seemed to make it more legitimate, somehow….

  2. I’m a writer! Miss having you in the fabOoolous Kristen’s yahoo group, hope you are well!

    • Hey Tiffany, don’t tell, but I’m still on the circulation list! I’ve been lurking on the grounds that I haven’t paid to have any more help, but I’m still following your adventures! Plus retweeting, of course! Maybe next month I’ll get the budget for another course…

  3. I’ve read a few writerly books (in particular Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write) that suggest making writing by pen and paper a regular part of the writing process. Thanks for the reminder that that’s all it takes!

  4. Aww, I love it! Dodgy haircut and all. Great post, Damian!

    • Wait, are you saying it WAS a dodgy haircut? Oh. Well, no argument there, actually! I loved your piece about creativity – that’s the flip side of always writing : Having something to write ABOUT.

  5. Hit the nail on the head. I get blog blockage when I try to do it on the computer. So first draft is on good ole pen and paper which doesn’t need a power cord!

    Great post. Keep ’em coming!

    • Thanks Shellie! I often find the opposite – sitting with pen and paper makes me yearn for the keyboard. Like my Dad before me, my handwriting is so bad it slows me down, but I can type like a demon! That said many years ago I had a wonderful lazy day in a beach bar on Kefalonia, writing short stories longhand in a big ledger, sitting in the shade, looking out at a blue sea while a wonderful waitress brought me cold beer and hot meals. Somedays I think that’s the ideal….

  6. Gosh! I love your message. Back to the basics and keep it as simple as possible.

  7. We have several books in our store written by E. Phillips Oppenheim, who is said to have written his more than 150 novels (some under pseudonyms) longhand. I prefer the keyboard myself, but don’t own a Smartphone or a laptop…


  8. Well done! Unfortunately I can’t use a pen and paper to let you know how awesome you are.

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