Tuesday, December 4, 2012

What Do You Need To Write

When I first started to write it was obvious to me what I needed. I got those things and started pumping out gibberish. Since then I have come across pieces of advice and wisdom that have reminded me of things a good writer needs. I would like to share with you what I believe those things are.

To start off, let’s talk about the basics every writer absolutely must have to start putting their thoughts down. Are you ready for this? All you need is a chair, a table, paper, and a pencil, that’s it! Yes, this list is archaic. This day in age it seems a writer needs a computer, printer, and the internet. I actually talk about those things later on, but let’s be honest there are still people in the world that cannot afford a computer. Those people feel as if they have been handicapped. I’m here to tell those people you can still chase your dreams of becoming a writer, you have everything you need.

There is one more requirement for every writer; books. I know, you are thinking “Duh!” I feel it is important to bring this up because I have come across many professional writers who have preached about the importance as a writer to read. I think Stephen King said it best, “If you do not have the time to read, you do not have the time or the tools to write.” When you read, you are going to pick up on styles of writing and add those to your own way of writing. Your vocabulary will increase as you come across new words. You will also find inspiration for your own work. Personally, I love reading manga and graphic novels. I finally forced myself to put them down and read some novels. Almost immediately I saw an improvement in my writing.

It seems to me that most burgeoning writers just plop down wherever they are and start cranking out what is firing through their imagination. I strongly believe every writer has to have their special place they can go to write. For me I just cannot write where there are a lot of people around. The noise and conversations distract me. I’m weird, but being out in public scares me. So, my special place to write is a room at home I have dubbed the “Geek Cave.” This is where I can go to feel safe and not be distracted. I have also found when I sit down at my desk it is like going to work. I switch into writing mode and my thoughts for my stories kick in. Where it is best for you to write will be different for everyone else. J.K. Rowling has a favorite coffee shop she hangs out in. Stephen King has an office he drives to. There is always a library or somewhere else. It is important that this place is where you can go and comfortably concentrate on your writing.

As promised, let’s talk about computers and other wonderful gadgets. I have a trusty laptop that has been by my side since the beginning of my writing. Is it the fastest? Does it have the latest? No. When I bought it my laptop was top of the line and the brand was highly recommended. Which is what I wanted, because I knew it would be reliable. The only other thing I can confidently recommend for your computer is internet access. It has been a life saver for me. I have published all of my work online. When I need a name for a character or to look up a place in the world, it has been so easy to jump on line and look for those things. If I have a question, it has been wonderful to e-mail someone I know and ask them.

If you are using a computer, of course you are going to need a word processor. Immediately everyone thinks of Microsoft Word and a lot of people freak out at the cost. There is a good alternative. Try Open Office. It is free and on line. Open Office is compatible with Microsoft Office and looks a lot like it. I used Open Office for the longest time and had no trouble. You can find it at openoffice.org

One last gadget is something to write quick ideas down on. I suggest this because it has been nice when I am running around and I get an idea, I can jot the idea down and then use it when I get back to my laptop. Smart phones and tablets are great. You can always use a note pad and pencil. I used to send myself text messages with ideas. 

It may seem like you are on your own when it comes to writing. You are not. I do not say this lightly. I am a person who is afraid of people, but I still have friends and even a mentor I can go to for help and guidance. Even your family and friends who know nothing about writing, still know how to read and can help you a lot. Use your friends and family to bounce ideas off of. Have them read your stuff. They can edit and point out things you may have missed. If you want to find other writers, there are hundreds of writing groups on line. I belong to two of them on Facebook. In my town there are a couple of writer’s groups that meet at the libraries. They are wonderful peers who can help review your work and make suggestions. These other writers have helped me a great deal with little pieces of advice. 

The last thing you need is somewhere to put your writing. I believe the purpose of writing is to share your ideas and thoughts with other people. At the very least keep your writing in a journal, for the purpose that someday someone will read it. Today it is incredibly easy to put your writing out there for people to see. You can build a blog, such as this one. There are several on line e-publishing companies and most of them are free. I use Smashwords.com. They have been great to work with. They have staff that has been very willing to help me with posting my story (hopefully soon to be stories.) Of course there are the traditional ways of publishing. I suggest you look into the small local publishing houses. If nothing else, give your writing to your family and friends. That is what I did in the beginning. It is because of my family I got the courage to finally publish one of my stories. One crazy idea I was given by someone was to printout my stories and leave them lying around in public places, like restaurants, waiting rooms, and schools.  

So, do you have everything you need? I’m positive you at least have the basics. With a little time and effort the other needs I mentioned will come along. Maybe you do not need these things and that’s fine. Maybe you have other needs for writing. What is important is your needs so you will be comfortable, distraction free, and inspired to write.
In closing I would love to know what things you need or do not need so you can write. I would love to hear your comments.

Thanks to:
            Hi I’m Dead Hiskarin by meteorleopard @ deviantart.com
            Hon No Mushi by JohnSu @ deviantart.com