Writing for some people is the toughest
job you can ever ask them to do. Yet, given the right tools and
circumstances anyone can write high quality articles with a little bit
of work and practice. There are in fact
seven tools every writer needs regardless of what they are writing - a
novel, a scientific document, an essay, or an article for the local paper. Without these tools you will find it very difficult to
Tool #1 - Notebook and
The notebook and pencil is one of the most important tools you will ever use. I carry them with me wherever I go so that I do not miss out on the ideas I have, words that I have heard and what I see. The key advantage of the notebook and pencil is that when you see something or have a good idea, you write it down so you do not forget.
I actually have two notebooks for writing, a small pocket size one that fits in my purse or pocket and another larger one that stays on my desk. Whenever walking around a shopping center or out to dinner, use the little notebook to write down words or phrases you hear so that you can use those in your writing.
Often people you come across from other places will use different phrases to say the same thing, and those phrases can be more interesting than your own.
Tool #2 - Dictionary
No writer can survive without a dictionary. I have a soft spot for my Pocket Oxford Dictionary (aff. link). However, there are many cool online dictionaries out there for free. Alternatively, if you are on a budget, I recommend going to thrift stores or dollar stores (we have Dollar Tree where every item costs $1) to find one.
So, why do we need a dictionary? For two reasons. The first is to make sure we spell the words correctly. Spellcheck is not perfect. If you use the wrong word, properly spelled, your computer will not let you know. The second, more important, reason is that the dictionary will tell you the meaning of the word, which helps ensure the word you are using is the right one for the context of your article.
Tool #3 - Thesaurus
A thesaurus allows you to look up a word and to find a better word to use than the one you used. So here is a really good exercise. I have used my thesaurus to locate more appropriate words for that previous sentence so here is the result:
The Thesaurus allows you to hunt for those words that are more appropriate and improve the sound of the language in your article.
You will notice that I substituted the word "better" for "improve" and rewrote the statement using words that were more descriptive of what you were trying to achieve like "hunt", "more appropriate" and "sound of the language". When you are writing the thesaurus can be a fantastic and fun tool to help you dramatically improve the language of your documents or articles.
A word of warning, however. Do not abuse the thesaurus or you may come across as pretentious. Better to use it only when you need to avoid repeating words or the word you are using does not quite convey what you want it to.
Tool #4 - Digital Recorder
As a writer the digital recorder has become a mainstay of our industry. The digital recorder allows you to speak into the recorder and record parts of your article without having to write it down. You can even use the message recording function on your phone. This is great if you are on the go or not able to find pen and paper.
Probably the most common profession that uses the digital recorder is the legal profession. Lawyers dictate correspondence and documents for their paralegals or secretaries to type up.
If you want to purchase a digital recorder, they are readily available at most department stores, or here (aff. link).
Tool #5 - A Good Library
Look the number ONE tool every good writer needs is their own library. As a writer you will also be a reader and the more you read the better your writing will become. I now have in excess of 1,000 books in my collection and growing. My library includes all types of fiction, non-fiction, memoir and even magazines.
Well the more varied your reading, the more refined your own writing technique will become. Further, you gain a solid understanding of what technique is appropriate for the type of material and audience you are writing for.
For example, my writing style for online articles will be more conversational and personal than for a book proposal I am submitting to a publisher. To be a really great writer you must be able to be flexible in the writing style you use. Great writers are not born, they create themselves through practice.
Your library will also be a great source for research. When you are building your library, do not get caught in the trap of buying brand new books. That is an expensive way to start. Instead, visit thrift stores and used book stores to find what you need.
The more extensive the library you have, with styles from the past and the present, the more effective and outstanding your writing will become.
Tool #6 - Quality Music
Everybody has heard of writers block and I am not really sure there is such a thing, but some days I do find it harder to write than others. However, one way I overcome this problem is by listening to music that will help stimulate the creative portion of my brain.
The right music will help you calm down and relax. I recommend classical music or music without lyrics.
I have seen corporate trainers improve the effectiveness of training sessions by playing music during a session. The creativity really comes to the forefront. The same has been effective in classrooms.
While not everyone will benefit from listening to music while writing, it is worth giving a try.
Tool #7 - A Good Computer and Printer
If you are going to be writing professionally, you will need a good computer. Editors, agents and publishers prefer manuscripts in electronic form.
On your computer you will want a few pieces of software to help you write and submit work.
First, you will need is an Internet connection. I will go out on a limb and assume that is not a big problem for you if you are reading this.
Second, you will need a good word processing program or app. If you cannot afford Microsoft Word, there are quite a few free programs, such as OpenOffice available for download that work like Word.
The last thing you will need is a good printer. Do not scrimp on printers, because you will probably find it is easier to review your work on paper, so buying a cheap printer could end up costing you three times as much as a higher quality printer.
I recommend a laser printer (aff. link) over an ink jet when you are writing as a laser copy is less likely to smudge when you write notes on the copy. In addition, a single laser ink cartridge will print 1,000 pages or more, versus about 200 for your standard inkjet cartridges. When you consider that there is only about a $20 price difference in the inks, it makes more sense to go with a laser printer.
Writing can really be a really fun and exciting career or hobby, but having the right tools will certainly make it a lot easier for you. Here is a recap of the seven tools every writer must have: