Top 10 things to have in your writer’s toolkit

Jack Kerouac's typewriter
Jack Kerouac’s typewriter

1. A way to write things down

Whether it’s using a word processor, notebook with (many!) pens and (sharpened!) pencils, or a typewriter, the point of writing is to… umm… write things down. So you need a way to do this.

2. Ample light

Take care of your eyes and your sanity by writing in a well-lit location.

3. An inspirational statement posted somewhere you can see

Don't panic - on my office bookshelf.

“Don’t panic!” – on my office bookshelf.

Here’s mine. Those of you who have read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will recognize the reference, but this particular sign has more meaning. I took this from the independent bookstore I worked at… on the last day it was open before it closed and we all got laid off. It’s too bad that the internet gobbled up the majority of inksplAt, my former blog, because it held a lot of the memories of my (wonderful, precious, special, amazing) time as a bookseller. Excuse me for a moment as I go sob in to my pillow…

4. A collection of writing prompts

Don’t let “writer’s block” be an excuse. Forestall it by finding a site with writing prompts (Poets & Writers – The Time is Now, Writing Prompts That Don’t Suck, etc.). Or create your own writing prompts. Write out a bunch of scenarios like: “and then a zombie walked in” or “he was craving Kool-Aid in a way he hadn’t since the day of the” or “and then he died.” The point of this exercise is not to necessarily write something that makes sense, but rather to just get you writing about anything until you can re-focus on your original storyline.

5. A bottle of water

I’m willing to bet you don’t drink enough. Water is essential for life, including optimal brain function. Plus it will make you feel fuller to cut down on the inevitable snacking.

6. Food made of food

As tempting as it is to fuel your writing binges with absolute junk, keep food on hand that has actual nutritional value.

7. Music (or silence)

If you are the type of writer who requires a soundtrack, make sure your playlist is ready to roll and your music device is fully charged. Personally, I write better in silence, but I do like to have a peppy song or two on hand to cheer me up if I’m having a rough writing day. If I need to switch it up, I like the Songza playlist “Conversation Pieces” for some weird mood music.

8. A clock with an alarm

Useful for a number of reasons including writing challenges (1k30min anyone?) and reminders to eat, shower, sleep, and just get up for a bit.

9. Proper posture

Future you will be thankful if current you can take five minutes to read this wikiHow article about how to sit at a computer (it has pictures!).

10. A good book

For inspiration, writing prompts, a brain break, or the comfort of nesting in a space, a good book should be a constant writing companion.

Did I miss anything that is essential in your toolkit? Let me know!

S.E. Lund

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