Almost no matter what, there are three things I keep with me wherever I go. As an individual, these things have served me well, but as a writer, they’ve been instrumental, which leads me to the conclusion that these are three things no writer should ever be without:
- Notebook and Pen (I know, you could argue that would make it four things, but let’s just assume the one comes with the other).
You never want to be without paper and pen (or similar writing utensil and adequate material to write on), particularly as a writer. You know those sensational ideas you have that you swear you’ll remember in five, ten, twenty minutes, tomorrow morning, in a couple of days?…LIES!!
Don’t listen to yourself! We all know that if you actually remembered it that it’s some trick of the universe and not an event often repeated. More often than not, you’re left scrabbling for tendrils of an idea you vainly wish you’d had written down…One great way to avoid ever having the conversation where you lie to yourself with complete intention to remember those incredibly evasive and brilliant ideas, is to always have this tool at hand. I’ve scrawled so many ideas in little notebooks that I carry with me that I often have to collect them all in my Ideas Jot List in spurts.
You can also write if you have a few spare moments. Perhaps a person, a sound, or a smell triggers a line of dialogue or narration, a scene you’ve been working on at home suddenly rushes to you while sitting in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. Having a pen and paper handy can be a huge help, plus, you may not have a napkin nearby to use, best to be safe and bring some supplies with you, it’s only the basics after all.
Plus, it’s exceedingly handy to have pen and paper at hand. It’s great for writing down messages, stray thoughts, numbers, etc. from phone calls you’ve gotten. I often use mine for lists. I love lists. They’re a great way to organize your thoughts, for spit balling ideas or just getting your thoughts going.
Really, you can’t go wrong having a small notebook and a trusty pencil or pen ready to receive whatever words you have to give whenever you have a moment. Take them with you everywhere you can, or use your phone if that’s your thing (personally I prefer a small spiral notebook and my favorite brand of pen.) Leave a notebook and pen on your nightstand to record your dreams, last thoughts for the night, or first thoughts of the morning. Whatever you end up using your notebook and pen for, you’ll be glad for having it.
- A Book– While it’s very true that this decision may in part be influenced by the fact that I am a bibliophile and a bookworm, I promise it’s also a great idea for writers….or anyone that loves books. Now, I’m sure this has become more common purely by advent of the Kindle App on most phones; at least a scattering of people you see out and mesmerized by their phones may actually be reading a novel…I can hope, right?
Like Stephen King says:
I am one of those people that brings a book for these situations, or any situation. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t bust out a book at the family dinner table when politics takes the holiday dinner chat over, no matter how much I might want to (even though I have a book handy…just in case).
You never know what’s going to happen in life, and more than once in the past I’ve found myself infinitely grateful for having a book on hand when I wasn’t necessarily expecting to have the time. Even if it’s only a couple of sentences, or a paragraph here and there, it can be wonderful to slip into another time, place, person, for a moment. Or, if you’re reading nonfiction, there’s plenty to absorb and think over if you read in these dead space moments
They say if you can’t write, read. If you’re reading what you love and enjoy, you’ll find inspiration, perhaps when you least expect it. Or read something you don’t like and then be sure you shape your writing voice to avoid what it is you dislike. Either way, you are doing research, so even if you’re reading, you’re working!! (…I can neither confirm nor deny ever using this statement to justify reading when I should/could be writing…)
- An Open Mind– An open mind is something everyone should keep with them, but since you can’t have everything, I strongly urge every writer to never misplace this vital tool.
Creativity is an amazing thing and you cannot always control the places it and Inspiration will take you, but with an open mind, those places are far more numerous. There are multiple studies showing a connection between higher levels of empathy in those that read fiction. This makes complete sense if you think about it; what are you doing when you read? Becoming another person, perhaps another species all together, and connecting with the struggles, challenges, and triumphs of the character, a character that the reader becomes, through empathy.
Why am I talking about empathy when I started off with having an open mind? Here’s the thing, not many closed minded people are able to empathize with others, at least not very well. This is of course because they are unwilling or unable to open themselves to possibilities other than their own thoughts, feelings, or ideas.
Open mindedness will lead you to far more interesting and fantastical places than a closed mind ever could. You must keep this with you always. As writers, we often use what’s around us as inspiration, sometimes a part of a conversation, or the way someone dresses sparks a character, but with an open mind, you can take a good idea and make it something grander than you first imagined.
An open mind will serve you well, but if you’re a writer, don’t leave home without it.
What are some tools that you keep with you in your writer’s tool belt?