8 Essential Tools For Book Writing (Just in Time for Nanowrimo)

The thing about writing is that you can accomplish it without much in the way of tools.  Really, all you need to finish a book is something to write on and something to write with. Of course, a computer is also helpful, but strictly speaking, it is not a requirement.  Theoretically, you could write your entire book in pencil on legal pads and find someone to type it up for you.

But that would be theoretically.  In the real world, it is good to have some niceties.  And this lack of a need for tools is one reason I got excited the other morning when I realized I had some things to recommend to have on hand when writing a book.  Though, in truth, I guess they would more accurately be called supplies than tools.  But work with me, just for the sake of it, would you?


Here they are:

1. A good spiral notebook or binder.  This will be used for brainstorming, free-writing, working out your ideas for characters, writing down descriptions, and so on. 

2. A seperate notebook for notes.  This can be a small notepad or a small binder or whatever strikes your fancy.  To my mind, it is necessary because brilliant ideas and directions for changes in your book get lost in the mad rush of writing that goes on in #1.

3. A vision board.  For the visually-minded, a book-writing vision board which collects images and words to inspire you is a wonderful boon. 

4. A story board.  Not to be confused with #3, a story board actually tells the story of your book, scene by scene, on individual index cards or post-it notes tacked up on a board. Its a great aid in seeing where you are going and keeping track.

5.  Post-It Notes.  I can't live without them.  My desk is littered with them, stuck on shelves, to-do lists, in notebooks, on journal pages, everywhere.

6. A binder.  Use this for putting printed book pages in.  Nothing is more inspiring than seeing the pages stack up!

7. A carry-along notebook.  You might want to make #2 do double-duty, but you might also want to choose something compact.  Just make sure you have something with you to make notes on when inspiration strikes–I often use my phone.

8. A box of pens.  Because you'll go through them.

And then, of course, there's that metal thing called a computer…

What are your must-have tools or supplies for writing a book?


Image by christgr, via Everystockphoto.

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11 Responses to 8 Essential Tools For Book Writing (Just in Time for Nanowrimo)

  1. Charlotte Dixon 11/06/2010 at 09:20 #

    Oh, I love those old composition books, Joel! Especially some of the newer ones that have fancy-schmancy covers. And you make a good point, there’s a time when all this writing by hand has to go into the computer. I consider that process the first rewrite.

    I’m jealous of your Ipad…

  2. Joel Friedlander 11/06/2010 at 09:06 #

    Charlotte, that’s one of the things I love about writing, it’s very portable. After writing for years in regular composition books (handy, tough and quite cheap) I got tired of all the re-typing. There were (and still are) lots of pieces of writing that I have yet to transfer to my computer so they just sit there in the big pile of filled-in composition books.

    Now I’ve switched almost entirely to writing on the iPad. Because it only does one thing at a time it’s the perfect instrument for me: there’s nothing to distract, and no need to re-enter copy. And it’s super portable, allowing me to write just about anywhere.

    Thanks for this interesting post.

  3. Giulietta the Muse 11/06/2010 at 14:12 #

    Hey Charlotte!

    I carry a small notebook and also love post it notes. Get so many ideas for essays, etc. Say I’ll remember but don’t so I need to write them down. Did finish my card deck! Got a coach and finished it in about 4 months. Deadlines help too!


  4. Jessica 11/06/2010 at 18:13 #

    I think you’ve covered all the essentials I use. However, seeing as I was travelling for work in October, my novel for NaNo WriMo has had to take off without the storyboard or other motivational things. It’s just me and the keyboard at the moment. One notebook and not a single postit note with anything related to my story (plenty of other To Do lists though).

    I’m trying to bribe myself through the word count by promising the purchase of a fountain pen.

  5. Don 11/06/2010 at 21:32 #

    Excellent points, particularly the one on Posted Notes. I cant’ live without them ‘lil suckers’ myself.

  6. Charlotte Dixon 11/07/2010 at 07:29 #

    Giulietta, Yes deadlines help and so do coaches. I highly recommend both. Congrats on finishing your project!

    Jessica, Glad you are back! I think you’ll do fine on Nanowrimo, because really, it is all about just sitting down at the keyboard and writing.

    Don, How did we ever live without Post-it Notes? I know there was a time they didn’t exist, but I’m not sure how I lived through it.

  7. Christi Corbett 11/08/2010 at 08:13 #

    I used everything you mentioned, but with one change.

    I use unlined notebooks so as not to be hemmed in by the lines. That way if I want to whip out a drawing, chart, or something requiring lots of arrows to different parts of the paper my creativity isn’t limited to between the lines.

    Great post!


  8. Charlotte Dixon 11/08/2010 at 09:42 #

    Excellent point, Christi! I tend to go back and forth between lined and unlined. One thing I do love is using sketchbooks for journals because the paper is so great to write on.

  9. Belinda 11/08/2010 at 11:20 #

    Charlotte, I love how you open this post by giving it to us straight — that we don’t need anything nore than a pad of paper and pencil to finish a book. It’s really true, isn’t it. The only reason for any of us not finishing a book would be resistance, but that’s a whole internal battle that only the writer can resolve.

  10. Charlotte Dixon 11/08/2010 at 21:32 #

    Oh, and Belinda, the resistance that we encounter is usually the hardest part to deal with, especially because it can be so sneaky we don’t even recognize it!


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