Basic Tools for the Beginning Writer

It was Virginia Woolf who wrote that every woman writer need a room of one’s own. Well, every writer does need their own space to write. Beginning writers also needs key writing tools.

1. A Space of One’s Own A space where you like to write could be a physical space, perhaps at a desk or a table in your house, where there is an Internet connection. There might be a quiet space in your house, a tucked away corner where you write where nobody will bother you. Perhaps your space is at a Starbucks or otherwifi enabled coffeehouse. For some writers, there local library is a quieter place to collect thoughts and write. And for others, the great outdoors, under a tree, or by a lake is a place to make one’s own. Lucky writers will have an entire home office at their disposal, where a closed door will help the words flow.

2. A Good Dictionary Every writer needs a really good dictionary. Perhaps a hardbound dictionary that you’ve had forever, and it’s kept within arms reach of your coveted writing space. Your favorite online dictionary could be the Merriam-Webster dictionary or Dictionary.com. A subject-specific dictionary is a must for any technical or specialty writer. Writer of science fiction will also benefit fro ma topical dictionary. One place to find topical glossaries and dictionaries is Glossarist.

3. An Idea File Every writer needs an idea file. Ideas come at the most inconvenient times, while showering, driving, drifting off to sleep or exercising. Those tiny scraps of paper a writer might be collecting from the monsoon of ideas can easily get lost if not organized and filed away properly. The options for maintaining an idea file are endless. A simple index card file box can be found at any dollar store and is a great tool for any writer. Index cards, too are an inexpensive yet indispensable resource. Keep a small stack of index cards wherever you are likely to think of ideas. File them daily. When you sit down to write, pull out a random card or find a specific one that you’d like to tackle.

For the tech-minded writer, carry a digital voice recorder and record every great idea that comes to mind. This is especially handy for writers who come up with ideas when pen and paper are not handy.

4. A Bookshelf of Great Books Writers write, but great writers read great books. Just reading everything will not necessarily improved your style, output or vocabulary. Reading great books is inspiring and contagious. Just try to write something mediocre after reading a bit of Shakespeare, Atwood, Greene or Hemingway. One book the beginning writer should have on the bookshelf, after reading it cover-to-cover, is Strunk & White’s Elements of Style.

5. A Web-Friendly Word Processor A writer, including a beginning writer, needs to use a word processing program that is web-friendly, easy to use and free. Especially when you are first starting, there is no need to spend a lot of money on software you do not need when you can find it for free. Free web-friendly word processors for the beginning writer as well as the seasoned writer include Writely or ZohoWriter.

6. A Place to Publish Beginning writers will want to set up a web site and start writing. There are great blogging sites, which require little to no HTML knowledge, including Blogger.

It doesn’t cost anything to become a writer. All you need to spend is time and effort.

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