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!

5 thoughts on “What Does a Writer Need?

  1. I loved this, especially when you wrote: “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.’” That was so funny and perfectly captured your internal reaction — one many of us can relate to when we discuss our own equally unlikely plans! I too struggle with my stuff — what to keep, what to get rid of or give away…As for what I do feel I need as a writer, I’d have to say my Kindle PaperWhite. What I like is how I can highlight and make notes in the text and then look up all my notes in one list later on. Or I can search for a specific word in the book’s text or within my own comments. Much easier when using it for research or quotes for my work versus flipping through the pages of a book, trying to find a certain section or a note I made. Well, that’s my two cents — I look forward to seeing more on this topic for as long as you do it!


  2. Ok , I’ll tackle “what do non-writers think writers need?” I’m not really a writer, I just play at writing:-) I have this romantic image of the writer in a room with dark furniture, sitting at a desk with an old fashioned typewriter and a stack of paper. There has to be a window with brocade curtains, pulled back during the day to reveal a view of an old European city. This is during the fall and winter. Spring and summer, the writer goes to his country house where he sits in a garden. There has to be a pond with lily pads, frogs and dragonflies. Here, he sits at a white iron table with a tablet and a fountain pen. He needs a bicycle to ride into the village from time to time. Other times he takes long walks in the forest and he has a small notebook and pencil to carry with him on these occasions. Some mornings, there must necessarily be fog. Those are the mornings he sits quietly contemplating with a cup of tea. He also needs honey for the tea. So…that’s the correct answer, isn’t it? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • You get an A+. Obviously we need to lock down the chatter about what goes on in the world of the writer. The first rule of Write Club is YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT WRITE CLUB.


  3. Sorry…didn’t mean to reveal any secrets! Yes, you writers should be aware that the internet is a dangerous place for secrets…you never know what sort of riff-raff could be reading these things! 😁


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