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What's on the Desk: Writing Tools for Getting Started


The ardent writer, hunched furtively over their typewriter or laptop, hands flying across the keyboard in a whir of click-clack sounds. This scene has played out in many books and movies with protagonist-writer characters like Carrie Bradshaw, Kathleen Kelly in You've Got Mail, and Jo March, to name a few.


But the reality is that writing for hours on end requires some creature comforts and writing tools that can help make the creative process easier. In the past month, I've learned that manuscript-writing software is beneficial, as is a laptop stand that is ergonomic and keeps you from hunching and putting pressure on your elbows and wrists. After doing a bunch of review-reading and trying to narrow down the bare essentials, here's what I've found to be helpful*:

  1. Computer Accessories. I'm not sure why I waited a decade into my writing career to finally commit to researching and buying a wireless keyboard and laptop stand. It's been a game-changer to sit up straight and have room to spread out my hands on the keyboard. The ASMR of the keyboard is also satisfying. I bought a Logitech Signature K650 Comfort Full-Size Wireless Keyboard and Nulaxy Laptop Stand because they had solid ratings, were compatible with iOS, and did not cost a fortune.

  2. Manuscript-Writing Software. Historically, I have used Evernote as my synced place for notes between my phone and computer to add lists and bits of writing inspiration. Pages and Google Docs have been my friends for writing and editing pieces. But the reality is that a book requires a much, much higher word count and, therefore, a need for better organization and management. An industry-standard program is Scrivener, which requires a one-time license purchase, and it lives on your computer. I like the folders and how you can drag and drop documents around. It also compiles all of your stuff into a shareable manuscript.

  3. Backup Hard Drive. We've all experienced it, the soul-crushing spinning rainbow of doom that happens when your computer gets overwhelmed. Then, all that is left to do is a force restart. I've been apprehensive about this randomly happening, so I sprang for a backup, external hard drive that Scrivener saves the manuscript to periodically.

  4. Professional Association. I've belonged to several professional associations over the years, but The Author's Guild has been the community I needed for this moment. And they're a welcoming bunch! They offer educational workshops and resources like legal reviews of book contracts for free. There is also a very active forum filled with questions and discussions I never would've considered, and it has shed a lot of light on the different stages of authoring a book.

  5. Book Resources. There's a plethora of works and guides out there that are helpful for novel writing. I've chosen four that are sitting in a stack next to me while I write: The Writer's Journey - 25th Anniversary Edition: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler, Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forster, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott, and The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White.

If you have any suggestions about what you can't write without and want to drop them in the comments, I'd love to hear your recommendations.


*These are my recommendations you might also find useful and time-saving; I've not received any monetary or promotional incentives for the things linked on this list.

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