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A Writer's Essential Tools

Charles Goulet

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William Faulkner, the great Mississippi writer, said, “The tools I need for work are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whisky. ”

Every writer needs certain tools to accomplish the task of being a writer. For some, it is a simple assortment of equipment, basically paper and a writing instrument-a pencil or pen-and nothing more while most need a typewriter or a computer and nothing more while still others need a special place with a special ambiance-quiet, background music, lighting, a comfortable desk and chair, and a special beverage-coffee, tea, etc. , or like Faulkner, a little whisky.

Today's writer will most likely opt for a computer of some sort-desktop, laptop, or even a PDA of some sort. Paper is no longer an essential because most work can be saved to a hard drive or diskette, and sent to it destination via the Internet. Tobacco is becoming obsolete as more people are kicking the habit due to the health concerns. Food is still an essential, but others will forgo the whisky.

The computer has taken much of the drudgery from writing. A good word processing program is an essential and there are many on the market but the two most common and acceptable are Microsoft Word and Corel Wordperfect although other can be used. For the financially struggling author there is OpenOffice, which is a free program from: It has all the power and flexibility of the first two mentioned as well as being able to convert any file to PDF format which makes it possible for any platform to read it whether PC or Mac.

Many experts advise that a writer should have a dedicated place in which to write. I suppose this is true of the freelancer more than the salaried scribbler. Perhaps such an area is more conducive to the discipline needed to put thoughts to paper or monitor screen, but certainly not every author can find such a location. If the writer is a harried housewife on a limited budget in a limited household, such an area might be hard to come by, but it might be profitable to find a spot and use it consistently to make writing a habit. Since human are habit oriented creatures, creating a writing habit seem like a good approach.

Most writers also need other tools: a desk, a comfortable chair, a dictionary, a thesaurus, pens and pencils, and paper of some sort for quick notes-notepad or secretary notebook-a calendar. Others need a radio, a CD player, or connection to the media on the Internet and maybe that little whisky that Faulkner found so helpful.

Like Faulkner, though, the essential tools are pencil or pen and paper. More than one writer, and some very famous ones, was able to create masterpieces with these simple bare necessities. The main tools are the writer’s thoughts and ideas.

Charles O. Goulet has a BA in history and a BEd in English literature. Several of his novels have been published and are available at, Amazon. ca, Barnes and Noble, and many other bookstores.


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