Please do accept my apologies if you’ve happened upon this page expecting to me explain my latest Ferrari purchase or my new Oswald Boatang be-spoke suit and Jeffery West shoes, or my Tag Huer Monaco. No, and believe me I’m pissed off as well. But alas this lifestyle page is dedicated to those essential writing tools without which…. So if you’re anyway serious about taking up the writing cudgels, then arm yourself with the below essentials. You can thank…. sorry reimburse me later.
10 A pocket sized voice recorder.
Now, you don’t need the James Bond version unless of course MI6 have asked you to travel to somwhereezstan and dig up a few buried bones of the leading communists. Thing is, from a writers point of view you can commit those blinding flashes of inspiration to your secret device. And then as soon as the pub shuts you can fall home safe in the knowledge that your paragraphs are safe.
9 Electronic writing pad
Another spy like gizmo, but which does the job. In general what these devices do is allow you to take notes, draw diagrams and so forth in class, in meetings, and elsewhere and to store them digitally. So for those of you who don’t like being overheard on your various train and bus journeys, this solves that problem. Unless of course, completely oblivious, some plagiaristic bastard is peering over your shoulder as you jot down your best seller. Just be careful with this one, that’s all I’m saying.
8 A Thesaurus
One word come to mind. Essential. Why? Because you’ll be absolutely amazed at just how many times you use the same word to describe the same thing. Don’t believe me? Well go back to your twenty chapters of your tenth revision and type in words like Tears, cried, and, etc. Anyway, I think you get the picture. The trick is to vary it. Think about using different words and adverbs. You don’t have to overdo it but all readers like a bit of variety. Just make sure that you do not repeat my experience. Just a week ago I purchased a new thesaurus and when I got home I opened it and all of the pages were blank!!! There were no words to describe my anger!
7 A Chair.
Obviously, I hear you cry. But hold on there because we’re not just talking any old chair. Did you know that McDonalds spent millions of dollars on those red pieces of hard plastic we all perch on before tucking in to our quarter pounder of sugar. And it was all done for our discomfort. The design is specifically to make us feel uncomfortable so that we’ll stay in the place no longer than the time it takes to contract type 2 diabetes. If there is one workplace hazard to being a writer, it’s sitting too much. If you need to park your butt for hours on end, investing in a good chair is critical. Look for one with good lumbar and arm support. Mine has in-built pillows for when another paragraph suddenly feels like a sentence!
6 Tea/coffee maker/machine
Every author needs a break, and I’m not talking about the lottery sized one that a certain JKR got, though I wouldn’t say no. To many chapters make Jack a dull boy. But make sure the equipment is close to hand. You don’t want to entirely break the flow while you boil up another kind, if you get me. And while we’re at it, a few biscuits as well, preferably chocolate or custard creams. Research has shown that twenty five of the world’s current top thirty authors regularly eat tea and biscuits. The other five are deceased!
5 A Pen!
A bloody what!!!! Terrible isn’t it. I showed my nephew a two hundred pound pen last week and she had absolutely no idea what it was. Pens, particularly fountain pens, are wonderful things and, I don’t know about you, but there’s something romantic about putting pen to paper. It’s what the writing geniuses of hundreds of years ago did all day … everyday! Watching the words flow from your mind, to your pen, to the paper is surely magical. It was only this morning when my nib broke before I knocked over my ink well onto thirty pages of completed manuscript that I decided to get pencil. Sorry, Derek, a what? Look it up!
4 Ear plugs
Depending on where you live and where you secret yourself away to create, noise can often be an issue. There’s only so many times you can poison the neighbours barking dogs until they become suspicious. Children screaming around in gardens can also be a headache, but there’s no point in spending all of your publisher’s advance in bribing them to go fishing. Yet the noises don’t stop there do they? Cars, motorcycles, the downstairs TV or radio, the telephone, the doorbell. In fact as soon as you sit down to write you suddenly hear everything little thing. Your ears focus on the early evening storm two hundred miles away. So there’s only one thing for it. Ear plugs. There are plenty of cheap and effective ones on the market. However I’ve never come across anything better than small squares of very wet toilet paper. Give it a try.
3 Nearest takeaway phone number
Writing makes you hungry. This is an undisputable, scientifically proven fact. And there’s nothing like the promise of a twelve inch pizza with coleslaw and garlic bread to focus the mind on how to extract your protagonist from the latest cul de sac you’ve just driven him down. You need to recharge. You need energy, and sustenance and it needs to be preferably unhealthy and no more than fifteen minutes away by moped! Now you may opt for a quick Chinese, but once you’ve eaten it and let out a large burp you’re usually hungry again! OK an Indian curry is optimal, but the heaviness just sends you to sleep ending your shift for the evening. No, a pizza’s the way to go.
2 Photos of people you like or don’t like
Inspiration comes and goes like the turning off and on of a torch. Finding that wicked, cold hearted antagonist or the redemptive protagonist whose life is initially going down the toilet ain’t easy. We need ideas! We need faces, histories, bad fashion sense, spotty complexions and all that jazz. So where better to find them than among those you know, or even have the misfortune to socialise with or even to be related to! Exaggerate their traits, their backstory’s. Sure, you could even tell them that they’re the inspiration behind this character or that. Just make sure you get a waiver signed in relation to their image rights. You can’t trust anybody when it comes down to money. Trust me.
1 A cat
Before any of you threaten to report me to animal rights groups, let me just say that I am an avid animal lover. But … and this where there’s a bit of a fork in the road. There are times when as a writer you will spend hours, days weeks producing work that’s fit only for the shredder. You wonder why you bother, who’s going to read such crap, inspiration grows in stubborn resistance, your story sucks, your characters are wooden clichés and the entire novel is quite honestly about as original as Lady GaGa. This is where the cat comes in. As you know these furry felines have nine lives, therefore giving one of them a good kick up the arse is therapeutic and highly recommended. You must however … and I can’t stress this enough … make sure you are certain when you have reached number eight!!!