» Writer's Office
Writer’s Office—EquipmentWriter’s Office Checklist
writer’s workspace is different. Everyone has their own preferences on
where they feel most creative and productive. Some writers need a quiet
space without distraction while others enjoy writing in a room with more
activity. Whatever type of space is your ideal for writing, there is
some basic equipment that will be required.
- A computer:
In today’s book industry a computer is a must for any writer looking to
earn a living from their work. It is the industry standard for
manuscripts to be typed (this no longer includes typewriters) and
- Back-up hard-drive or storage device:
Computers do crash and files can be lost. Invest in a USB storage
device or external hard-drive in order to protect your work, both past
- A printer:
A good home printer will be a writer’s best friend. Most publishers
still require manuscripts to be submitted in hardcopy rather than
electronically. This means that the writer is expected to have their
work printed. Home printers can be an excellent tool for any writer;
however, if this is not in your budget, make sure you have access to a
printer. (The Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild allows its members to print
documents at a small cost for paper)
- A notepad and pen:
Although manuscripts must be printed and computers are wonderful tools
for writers, sometimes ideas need to be jotted down quickly or it is
simply easier to outline a project by hand.
- A filling cabinet:
Writing is a business and a filling cabinet can be a great
organizational tool. This will allow you to organize old manuscripts,
contracts, invoices and any other business matter you may encounter.
- Writing Software:
Most computers come already loaded with some form of word processor;
however, they may not always suit your needs. There are many different
types of software available for writers that allow them to write more
efficiently and are easy to access.
- A desk/writing surface: Whether
you are writing in your kitchen, on the couch or outside you will need
some sort of writing surface or desk. Depending on where you are
planning to write a clean table, portable lap desk, or even a workbench
may be all you need. Know how you like to write and what feels most
comfortable for you. Remember as a writer you will be spending a lot of
time at that desk/work space.
- Dictionary and thesaurus:
Have a good dictionary and/or thesaurus at hand all the time.
Dictionaries range in quality and accessibility, depending on what kind
of writing you are looking to do, you may want to invest in a high
quality one such as the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) either in print
version or online subscription.
- Digital Camera:
Cameras can serve a multitude of purposes for writers. From providing
inspiration for a story to self-promotion, digital cameras can be an
extremely useful tool to writers at all stages in their careers.
- Digital recording device:
Digital recording devices can be very useful devices for writers
working as freelancers, in collaboration, as reporters or even just
attempting to piece together their novel. Digital recorders are small
portable devices that enable a writer to record extended sound/voice
recordings and then transfer them to their computer, making access a
breeze.General Information about Computers
Computer market today is huge and can seem overwhelming for anyone.
Whether you already have a computer you are using for writing or are
purchasing your first one, doing research on what is available to you
will be an immense help.
When doing research keep in mind:
- Your skill level. Some computers will be easier to navigate than others, so know how comfortable you are with computers.
operating system you are used to using. If you have already owned a
computer, consider what operating system it used and whether you were
happy with its functionality. Generally, commercial computers will run
using either Microsoft or Apple; however there are other operating
systems available. Both operating systems have their own benefits and
how the computer is going to be used. All computers are slightly
different and cater to specific types of usage. If you are planning on
traveling with your computer you will need a laptop or something
smaller, whereas if you plan on writing/working solely from a stationary
place a desktop may be a better option.
your budget. How much are you willing to spend on your computer?
Computers range in price from around 300$ at the low end through to a
few thousand at the high end of the price scale.
a list of everything you are wanting in your computer, this may include
specific software capabilities, disk burners, battery life, durability
a writer a computer can be their single most important tool. Before
buying one make sure you are comfortable using every from the keyboard
(not all keyboards are designed exactly the same), through to the
software you are going to be using.
There is much debate about Apple computers and Microsoft. Each program
has its own benefits and disadvantages. Explore both options prior to
buying a new computer, read recent consumer reports and know the
benefits of both.
computers come with more programs than others. Look into retail package
deals, as they may be a good way to save money. Packages may include
the latest software from Microsoft Office or a recent version of
firewall. If these are not included with the quoted price of your
computer you will most likely have to purchase them yourself, something
that can become costly.
for rebates and sales. The computer business is competitive, so shop
around. Some stores may offer a rebate on a printer, have package deals
available or even offer other benefits such as an extended warranty.
Know all your options prior to purchase, as some stores in order to get
business are willing price match or better the offer of a competitor.
(Note: Apple products sold at retailers cannot be price matched
according to the deals available on the Apple Website, and these
products generally do not vary in price from location to location.)
Writing Software for Writers
most computers come equipped to handle general word processing, some
writers require/ desire different software that suits their specific
- Scrivener: Designed to make writing first drafts easier and to organize a project.
- WriteRoom: Provides a writer with a distraction free writing zone.
- Ulysses: A program for creative writers.
- CopyWrite: A project manager for writers.
Novel Writer: This software allows writers to work their way through
the writing process, annotating their text using margin notes, and has a
basic database for storing ideas, character information and research.
- StoryMill: Allows a writer to manage scenes, chapters, and characters while also annotating their text.
A tool that mostly focuses on writers for research papers, helping them
to assemble a paper while keeping track of references and avoiding
- Omni Outliner: A tool that helps facilitate the outlining, organizing and brainstorming aspects for a project.
- MacJournal: Blogging software.
- Mellel: Word processing software.
- Bean: Word processing software.
- Pagehand: Word processing software.
- Mariner Write: Word processing software.
- Final Draft: Word processing software.
- CelftX: Word processing software.
- Movie Magic Screenwriter: Word processing software.
- Movie Draft: Word processing software.
- Montage: Word processing software.
- Page Four: A tool for editing, organizing, word processing, and outlining.
- Rough Draft: Helps a writer create and edit rich text files in a tabbed interface.
Way Pro: This software is designed as a professional writer’s tool.
Having such applications as “scratch pad”, word processing and forms
outlining characters.Outline 4D: An organizational tool for writers.
- Write Monkey: This software is focused on the development of text, rather than the editing process.
- Connected Text: Management system.
Assistant: This program is directed to freelance writers and
journalists, allowing them to track and organize their projects. This is
a web-based program that can be accessed through any computer.
General Information about Printers
printer will be an essential tool for any writer, as most publishers
require a hardcopy of manuscripts for submission. There is a wide range
of printers available on the market today. When purchasing a printer you
at what kind of usage you will want to get from your printer. Are you
planning on writing a novel or articles and short stories? The type of
material you will be printing will dictate to some extent what kind of
printer you will need. For larger projects you may be required to
purchase a heavy-duty printer, whereas if you are working on smaller
projects an easy to use, less durable model may be what you want.
- Look at printer capabilities. Today’s printers come with a variety of options, from all-in-ones to ordinary printers.
- All-in-one: Printer that can print, scan and photocopy.
- All-in-one with Fax: These printers can handle almost any project you are working on, having a photocopier, scanner, and fax machine as well as printing capabilities.
- Regular Printer: Although many printers today come with a variety of tools, printers are available without all the extras.
There are some printers on the market that cater to the photographer,
allowing users to print photo high-quality pictures at home.
whether you want an ink jet or laser printer. Depending on your budget a
laser printer may be a good option if you are planning on printing a
large number of manuscripts. The ink from laser printers allows for
smudge free printing.
you are purchasing a computer, is there a rebate available or some
other promotion in which a printer may be purchased at discount? Package
deals through computer stores can be a great way to save money on
Remember that printers require ink replacement, which can be costly.
Before purchasing your printer ask about the additional cost of ink, how
many cartridges your printer will need, and whether they are overly
costly. Brand name ink will be higher in cost, shop around for generic
brands that will fit your printer.
Digital CamerasGeneral Information about Digital Cameras
a writer a digital camera can be a very useful tool when working on a
variety of projects. From freelancing to novel writing a camera can be a
source of inspiration or a way to self-promotion.
with purchasing any new piece of electronic equipment you should do
some research on brands, capability, and prices prior to making a
purchase. Check out some of the many resources online such as reviews
and consumer reports.
a budget. Digital cameras range in price from around 100$ into the
thousands for more professional cameras. Along with the digital camera
you may also need certain accessories that enhance the performance of
the camera or simple storage cases.
an outline of the functions you are looking for and how the camera will
be used. Each camera is different and many are geared toward different
skill levels. Knowing what kinds of usage you expect from the camera as
well as your own personal skill level will help to narrow down your
talking to a professional. Although most chain electronic stores carry a
wide variety of cameras at very reasonable prices, going to a
specialized camera dealer may help you to clarify which cameras suit
your needs and skill level.
that just because you have spoken to a sales person does not mean that
you have to purchase a camera from their shop. Specialized camera stores
may be pricier than the larger retail stores. Ask whether the
specialized store will price match or give you a better deal. Asking may
be well worth your while as you will be getting the expertise of the
sales associates while purchasing a camera that best suits you. Remember
not all specialty stores are willing to negotiate their prices.
digital cameras will require you to purchase a memory card. Memory
cards range in price and size. Shop around to get the best deal.
how you will want to print or store your photographs. Most computers
come with a basic program for storing photographs taken with digital
cameras and will require you only to connect your camera by a USB cable.
However, if you wish to do more than simply store your photographs you
may want to invest in photo editing software that will enable you to
create high quality photographs on your computer.
cameras can be multipurpose tools, allowing for both picture taking as
well as video and sound recording. If you are looking to record small
short video clips a digital camera can be a good replacement for the
larger digital video recorders.
what you are taking pictures of and for what purposes. Are the
photographs going to be used on your personal website, in an article, or
on the cover of your latest novel? Each will require a different
quality of image in order to meet professional standards. Look at how
many megapixels the camera has (this is resolution) and the power of
your camera’s zoom lens.
General Information about Digital Recorders
recorders are useful tools for writers working on a variety of projects
as they enable you to capture an interview or a momentary thought.
recorders are small devices that enable a writer to record and store
sound clips, interviews, lectures, and voice memos. These files can then
be transferred to a computer for easy storage and accessibility.
recorders have been almost entirely been replaced by digital recorders;
however, there are some analogue recorders still available. If you are
choosing to use analogue recorders it is important to consider their
practicality. Although you may be more comfortable with cassettes, they
are quickly becoming obsolete and it may be difficult to locate a
machine that will replay your recordings.
recorders come in a variety of shapes, sizes and forms. They are often
stand-alone devices that solely capture digital sound recordings. While
others come as a part of an integrated device.
what usage you are looking to get out of the device. If you are
planning on doing regular interviews and recordings then purchasing a
digital recorder designated solely for that purpose is a good option.
However, if you do not plan on using the recording device regularly
consider looking into other electronics that provide you with the
capability of sound recording along with a variety of other tools.
instance, the Apple iPod Touch allows a user the ability to record and
store sound files, as well as access the internet, listen to music and
even take short video clips and photographs. These integrated devices
are portable (small enough to fit into a pocket) and have become
essential devices for all ages. Some cell phones (“smart phones”) also
have similar capabilities that will allow you to carry a single
electronic device for multiple purposes.
your budget. The integrated devices can be expensive. If you are
looking to purchase a cell phone with multiple capabilities, you should
also consider the cost of a data plans. Generally, there will be no
added costs to a simple digital recorder.