What are the tools every writer needs to have in their life?
Over the past three years, I’ve experimented with so many vastly different ways of working as a writer.
I’ve written from home, and hopped around writing remotely while I travelled the world.
I’ve written in my bed, and at an actual desk.
And I’ve written articles, guest posts, newsletters, and books along the way.
And I’ve learned a lot along the way, about what works, and what really doesn’t work.
Doing anything without the tools you need makes life more challenging and stressful, when it doesn’t need to be.
As we all know, life will throw enough curve balls your way, without you adding to them yourself.
It’s time we all started being kinder to ourselves. Because contrary to what you’ve been led to believe, life is not supposed to be a constant struggle!
But what are the tools you need to support you and make your life easier as a writer?
Here are my top 14 tools every writer needs in their life
1. A good laptop or desktop
When I first quit my job in pursuit of being a full time writer, my laptop had seen much better days!
It needed to be on charge 24/7, it was constantly making a loud whirring noise, and would over-heat.
Sometimes, it would decide to turn itself off while I was in the middle of working. And I never knew when that was coming.
I wasn’t earning a tonne of money to begin with, so I decided the sensible thing to do was wait to invest in a new laptop.
But this slowed me down, and caused me a huge amount of unnecessary frustration every day.
If you’re a writer, then you’ll be using your laptop or desktop every day, for long periods of time. That means it’s an essential tool.
It’s important to invest money in these tools, so that you can show up each day and do your best work.
And if you’re using a laptop; a laptop stand, wireless keyboard and mouse are a must. This will prevent you from getting permanent neck or back ache. Trust me on this one!
2. A sacred (and comfy!) writing space to work from
How do you make something sacred? All you need to do is declare it sacred. That means doing whatever you need to do to make it feel sacred to you.
For me, that means lighting a candle before I write, selecting a beautiful playlist for the background, or making sure I have a beautiful bunch of flowers on my desk.
Here are the must haves when it comes to your writing space:
- A clean, organised desk
- A comfy chair to sit in
- A good desk lamp
I used to write mostly from my bed or the sofa, with my laptop on my lap. And this made my back round. If this has happened to you, yoga is a great way to correct it, and get your body back to normal.
A comfy chair is another one of those essential tools every writer needs, and you shouldn’t be afraid to invest in.
When you buy something that is made well, it will always last longer than something cheap, so it’s worth paying a bit extra.
Here are some optional extras that I love to have:
- A plant or fresh flowers
- A candle
- Lots of natural light flowing in
- An inspiring music playlist
- A vision or intention board
3. A mug you love
Before I sit down to write each morning, I’ll make myself a cup of lemon green tea in my favourite mug.
At the moment, it’s a wide-rimmed white mug with red hearts around the rim. But it changes often.
This is another ritual that I now associate with my morning writing practice. And seeing that mug on my desk is a little symbol that tells me it’s writing time.
That means no checking emails, no social media, and no other distractions until my writing is done.
If you don’t have a mug that you love, invest in a beautiful one today. One that makes you feel abundant.
4. Microsoft Word or Google Docs
Every writer needs a user friendly writing program to write with.
My personal preference for writing is Google Docs, because it means that everything is automatically stored online, and can be shared with other people easily.
But Microsoft Word is great too, and has more formatting features that Google Docs.
If you’re looking for a free option, Libre Office Writer is one I’ve used and would recommend.
I have to admit that I’ve still never used Scrivener, and only got as far as downloading it and checking out the how-to guides.
But many writers – particularly fiction writers – rave about it, and proclaim this is one of the tools every writer needs to have in their life.
It allows you to organise your writing in what is essentially a bundle of various notes. This can be a mix of ideas, character descriptions, plot settings, chapters, or research etc. And you can easily re-organise and restructure all those notes however you like.
It’s kind of like a giant ring binder filled with all your notes, which you can see all at once, and play around with.
6. Access to a printer
Don’t worry if you don’t own your own printer. As long as you have access to one down the road, or in town, you’re sorted.
Printing your writing out is a great way to read through and edit it, because it helps give your eyes a fresh perspective – instead of staring at a screen all day. You’ll see things you didn’t see before.
And this is really helpful if you’re writing a book, because it allows you to consume it the way a reader would, and see if it flows.
You might also want a printer so you can print out any inspiration you’ve collected, or any articles that you love and want to study in depth – to see why they work so well, and what you can learn and implement in your own writing.
7. A camera
Sometimes I’ll be in a bar and notice a bit of graffiti on the bathroom walls that inspires a new article idea.
Or I’ll walk past a billboard advertising something that fills me with rage, and I know I have to write about it when I get home.
Or I’m in a bookshop, and I see a book cover that I love and want to capture for later.
You never know where inspiration will strike, or what you’ll see when you venture outdoors. That’s why having a camera to capture objects, scenes, and experiences is so useful.
The one on your smartphone will probably be perfect. But if it’s not, or you prefer to have a separate camera, then invest in one that is small enough and can be carried with you to most places.
8. Tools every writer needs: Journals
If you’re anything like most writers, I don’t need to tell you this, and you’ll probably have a stack of blank journals or notebooks on your shelf already.
If I see a beautiful journal, I can’t help but buy it, even if I’ve already got a pile to work my way through! Plus, I spend a lot of time journaling, so I know I’ll use it eventually.
Have one that is compact enough that you can take it with you everywhere you go. Because you never know when inspiration will strike, or when you’ll want to jot something down.
The notes section on your phone is another great option for this, but sometimes it’s nice to just put pen to paper.
And try and get into the habit of journaling every day. First thing in the morning works well, because it helps clear out anything that’s circling your mind, and will help get your creativity flowing. You might even want to draw or doodle in your journal.
Even if you’re just writing about how you’re feeling, or what you might do today – don’t underestimate the power of journaling.
9. Coloured pens / pencils
Colours make everything more fun. Pick yourself up an inexpensive pack from Amazon, and use them wherever you like.
In your journal, in your planner, when you write a to-do list, or as you go through print-outs of your writing.
10. Access to lots and lots of books!
All great writers read a lot of books. If you’re a writer, it’s natural that you love reading, so this is probably already a big part of your day to day life. And if it’s not, it’s time to make it one.
Try and spend at least 30 minutes writing each day. Or commit to reading one new book each fortnight, or each month, depending on what you can commit to right now.
Join your local library, an online book club, or get a kindle subscription on Amazon.
I still love curling up on the sofa and holding a physical book in my hand. And if there’s a book I know I want to have on my bookshelf, I’ll happily invest in it.
But regardless of your budget, books are tools every writer needs in their life.
Evernote is probably my favourite, and most used, app of all time. It’s just brilliant.
It’s a way to organise all your notes, ideas, projects, and to-do lists in one place. And every note can be saved with a set of tags, which makes it easy to find by doing a quick search. You’re also able to share notes easily, and use the app offline too.
I use it for so many things in my personal life – like making shopping lists, and saving down places I want to travel to; as well as for my work – like writing lists of future articles, writing articles on the go, and saving down new ideas when they pop into my head.
Evernote is the best note-taking app of all time – in my humble opinion – and I’d highly recommend it to everyone. Even if you’re not a writer, and have no ambitions to be one.
12. Spotify or iTunes
Some writers have to have music on in the background to do their best work.
I can often write in silence, but sometimes I enjoy having the accompaniment of some soft, instrumental music. And sometimes I use emotional songs to help me tap into a feeling, so I can write from a deeply emotional place.
I used to be firmly in the apple trap with my iPhone and iTunes set up, but I’ve since moved away and really grown to love Spotify.
You can pretty much listen to any music you want, depending on what mood you’re in. Plus there are millions of ready made playlists in all genres, that you can take your pick from.
You can also create your own writing playlists if you like, or find some that other people have created and see if they work for you.
Paying for the premium version without any annoying ads interrupting the music is a must. It costs under £10 per month, which I think is a total bargain. And there’s a family version for households too.
13. A diary or planner
I’m a highly organised (Capricorn rising) type of person. I can’t think if there isn’t order and structure in my life.
So to do my best work as a writer, I need tools that help me stay organised. And a planner is one of those tools.
There was a time when I allowed my planner to run my life. The daily pressure of achieving became too much, and one day, I hastily threw my day-planner in the bin.
I spent a year without a planner. At first, this was a welcome relief. But eventually, I realised I missed that structure and organisation. And I needed it to stay sane.
I mostly use my planner to write daily tasks that I want to complete, and plan in other events and holidays too.
You might prefer to use a digital planner of some kind instead – just do whatever works for you.
14. Somewhere to publish
Sometimes you might write something that’s just for you. You have no intention of sharing it with the world, and that’s okay.
But one of the tools every writer needs is somewhere to publish the majority of their writing. Because this is how you get your voice out there, receive feedback on your work, and build an audience.
Here are some of the options you have:
- Your own website (using WordPress)
- Submit to other people’s sites & blogs
- Other online/print publications
- A social media account
- A newsletter
You might begin with one, and then dabble with a few more. It’s up to you.
When I began writing, I was hungry to get my writing featured on existing platforms that already had a large audience that I could be exposed to. I didn’t see the importance of having my own blog. But now I do.
It really depends on what your future goals are as a writer.
For example, if you think what you’re writing might eventually form a book, then you’re better off publishing on your own site, so that you retain full ownership of your writing.
If you’re just writing to gain exposure, and drive people to other products or services you offer in your business, then guest posts on other sites could be a great option.
These are the best tools every writer needs in their life
As a writer, these are some of the most valuable tools you can have in your life. They will make writing a lot easier, and keep you organised, focused, and inspired each day.
And they don’t have to cost a fortune. Most of these tools can be purchased on a budget, or second-hand if needed.
Make a list today of what you’re missing, what needs upgrading, and have fun shopping!