Build Your Writer's Toolbox
Every trade has a list of needed tools — imagine a photographer without a camera or a contractor without a hammer. Writing is no exception. While an imagination is sure to be the most required tool of a career novelist, you'll find several other items will help you achieve success. Having a stocked toolbox will aid and quicken your journey to publication.
While some writers still prefer to write their first drafts in longhand, most agree that a reliable computer and a good printer are on the top of their must-have list. The price of computers can vary, but generally speaking, a basic system with a word processing program with spelling and grammar capabilities, will have all the bells and whistles required to fulfill your obligations as a writer.
Don't forget to have some sort of backup system to save your work in case your computer crashes. Either a zip drive or an alternate backup drive will work. If not those, get an online e-mail account with file storage and forward copies of your work.
While the price of printers has come down tremendously, the acceptance of electronic submissions has made the need for the fastest letter-quality printers less of a priority for established writers. Most authors are printing out fewer completed manuscripts for submission purposes.
Your computer isn't just the tool to produce your work, it allows you to connect to all kinds of resources. The Internet provides a wealth of information on markets, publishers, and specific information about any subject you may need to research. Today, a lot of writers admit most of their research is done online. However, be aware that just because it's found online doesn't make it true. Facts still need to be checked. And then rechecked.
Times have changed. The cyber highway is now probably the preferred form of communication in the publishing industry. Without an Internet connection, e-mail is unavailable. The Internet also offers you access to all sorts of writing sources, including Web sites, writing organizations, chat rooms, and online courses.
There are several reference books that you will want to have on hand. A good, up-to-date dictionary is the first on the list. (The smaller pocket dictionaries can prove to be lacking.) A thesaurus is equally important. While a lot of writers use the thesaurus on their word processing system, many do not compare to a quality book. Also found in many author's personal libraries are how-to-write books that offer quick helpful facts on everything from writing techniques to genre-specific information.
Also needed is some sort of a filing system. All your books will need to have their own files. You'll also have an idea file, a file for writing-related receipts, or possibly a file for each character. (You don't need to invest a lot in these items. Inexpensive file folders, or plastic file bins, can serve the purpose.)
Save all your receipts for any writing-related item for the Internal Revenue Service. Whether you show a profit or loss, your business expenses are still deductible. And even if you decide not to claim your deductions this year, you can do so next year since the IRS allows you to claim expenses from prior years.