When starting out in the world of writing, things can be a bit overwhelming. Whatever it is you want to write, you have to start somewhere. Blogs, short stories, novels, articles, screenplays… Each is so unique, but there are common questions that apply, no matter where you are starting and what your end goal is. Trying to find all the answers can feel like reaching through the dark, hoping your hand comes into contact with something friendly and helpful.
Where do you start? What are the must-have things, or the things that you can pass on without dooming yourself? Who has the answers? Who do you listen to? The answers will, of course, differ based on your product and your end goal. That’s the nature of the beast. I’m not here to answer all of these questions, because I’m not the expert in all those areas (or in any area, really). I’m here to talk about 5 tools every writer should have at their disposal, whether you are brand new or a veteran.
Every writer needs to be inspired. That’s what leads to a finished product. When I’m feeling uninspired, nothing happens. In order to create, the inspiration has to come from somewhere. Surround yourself with things and people you find incredible, and let your mind go to work.
If you aren’t immediately inspired, don’t worry! Sometimes, it can take a while for inspiration to finally kick in. Maybe you start off inspired, but then the flame dwindles as you work. Take a step away, refresh, and come back later with a renewed mind.
2. Something to Write With
This is a pretty self-explanatory option. If you want to write, you need something to write with. For many writers, this looks like a computer or electronic device with a typing app like Microsoft Word or Google Docs. For others, it looks like notebooks and pens. Regardless, you need some way to get those words down and out of your mind.
It’s important to note that along with something to write with comes somewhere to store your work. Depending on the tools you are using to write, this place to store your work until it is ready to be published (via any avenue) may differ. If your work is saved on your computer, back it up on an external hard drive, email it to yourself, or send it to a trusted friend (or any combination of the three). You don’t want to lose all your hard work if the computer crashes. If your work is done via pen and paper, make photocopies and send it to a friend or yourself. Don’t have just one copy of the work, in case it gets lost or damaged.
3. Somewhere to Store Your Ideas
This tool goes hand in hand with the first two. You need a place to jot down ideas for future work. For me, this looks like a small moleskine notebook I can carry everywhere with me, and write down ideas as inspiration strikes. Other writers use the notes function on their phone, or they use text or email to send themselves their ideas. Regardless of how you do it, you want a consistent way to write down and store your ideas for future use. Inspiration can strike at the strangest of times, and you want to be ready when it calls.
4. Platform to Sell Yourself
If you want anyone to read what you are writing, you’ll need to market yourself. This doesn’t have to be expensive (or have to cost anything at all!). Using social media to sell yourself and your work can absolutely be an option. Gather a fan base, put little tidbits out, and wait for the return. You can also use a free platform like YouTube, WordPress, Blogger, or Tumblr to talk about your craft and why people should care about your writing.
5. A Community of Writing Support
This last tool is, perhaps, the most vital to any new writer’s success. Surrounding yourself with support and encouragement is key to your own mental health and to keeping your inspiration alive. Constructive criticism, praise, and emotional support are things every writer needs to take their writing to the next level.
A support group can be online, like one of the many on Facebook (I prefer the groups Fiction Writing and Inner Circle Writers’ Group), or it can be a local group or society that hosts meet-ups. Regardless of in-person or online, a group of like-minded people who are all working to better themselves and their craft is a beautiful thing to plug into. Often, opportunities will arise in these groups that you may not have access to otherwise.
I truly hope this simple list is helpful as you begin (or continue!) your writing journey. Of course, this list is not comprehensive, so feel free to drop a comment with any tips or tools that you find essential to your writing success. I’d love to hear them!