What Does a Writer Need?

I am fascinated with stuff.  I love gadgets and gizmos and accessories and tools and programs, probably to the point where it’s unhealthy.  Case in point:  my wife and I were, just a few weeks ago, talking about how we should have a garage sale before school starts back up to clear out some junk and de-crapify the house (and especially the garage) a little bit.  While we were talking, part of me was quietly filing its nails in the back of my brain, yawning and saying to itself with the most bemused of eyerolls, “yeah, that will never happen.”  True to form, school starts back up in just over a week and yeah, that garage sale ain’t happening — it’s barely even been spoken of since.

My obsession with stuff is also at odds with a philosophy I’m trying to cultivate lately, which is one of minimalism: cutting out of my life the unnecessary, the redundant, the distracting.  It’s a problem.  One side of me can give you thirteen entirely acceptable reasons why that old crappy food processor should just be thrown on the heap, but the other side manages to forget to do it or find one reason to keep it or … well, maybe it goes without saying, but the thing is still in my kitchen cabinet despite the fact that we’ve not used it in (over) two years.

But I’m wandering.  I’ve struggled this summer — struggled mightily, like a T-Rex trying to wipe its butt — with my writing in a way that I just didn’t for the first several months of the Project.  That’s my capital “W” Writing on the novel as well as my blather here on the blarg.  That hoarder part of my brain, the part that thinks any problem can be solved if I only have just the right THING to help me solve it, wonders if there isn’t some missing piece to help me write more gooder.  The minimalist part of my brain, meanwhile, is trying hard to ponder the deeper meanings of whatever and wonders if I already have too much stuff as far as my writing goes.  One way or another, there are certain things that I think you absolutely, without a doubt, must have to write, and there are other things that maybe people in general think writers need even though they really don’t.  So I want to take a look at some things that writers need (and, by extension, some things that they don’t).  Incidentally, I also want to make sure I’m maintaining focus here at the blarg, and maybe having a weekly rotation is the way to do that.

The list will by no means be exhaustive, and it will definitely be biased and opinionated.  It ain’t like companies are sending me their brand new shiny toys to beta test, but maybe if you’re an aspiring writer (like me) you’ll find something here you can use on your own journey.  I know I’ve certainly gotten help from some other writers out there, and I believe in paying it forward, so if I can help even one person out there to find a little focus, inspiration, or motivation, then it will be worth it.

Also, and maybe it goes without saying, but I’m still fairly new to the path — more chronicling the experience than trying to teach — so I won’t be able to speak yet about things like agents and publishers and all that business yet — because I’m not there yet.

So!  As I get started, I’d love to hear from anybody out there who’s reading, on one or more of these questions:

What do writers need?

What do non-writers think writers need?

What tools do you use to help yourself as a writer?

First column tomorrow, and hopefully one every week until I can’t stand this idea any more — so stay tuned!