6 Essentials Writers Need In Their Toolbox

6 Essentials Writers Need In Their Toolbox

by Steve Gamel
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It doesn’t take a whole lot for me to get going with my work day. All I need is a big glass of water, my trusty MacBook Air, a notepad and pen, and … oh yeah, my brain (preferably the wide awake
one that’s chock-full of all those great writing ideas).

But like any writer, I have additional tools and resources handy in the old toolbox to keep me working efficiently, help block distractions, and make sure my writing sounds good.

Check out my 6 favorite essentials. Could any of these help you as a writer?

1. 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.

2. Call Recorder

This is a free phone app, and all you do is turn it on before you 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. Obviously, if you are using it to record a client or source for an article, it’s probably a good idea to let them know.

3. Transcription Software

The downside of using digital voice recorders and/or smartphone call recorders is that I have tons of transcribing to do to my computer when I’m done. Transcription software, such as Dragon, does it all for you. This makes for a more efficient writer.

4. 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 larger and 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.

5. AquaNotes

We’ve all had that moment. We’re standing in the shower needing to write something down. Someone 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.

6. External Hard Drive

I think anyone who owns a computer needs an external hard drive, especially if you have sensitive material such as family photos and important files/documents. It’s a writer’s worst nightmare when the computer decides to die and you lose everything.


7. 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. My calendar is on my phone, and I update it every single day.

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