How much do you really need if you want to write? Do you actually require a fully equipped office, complete with the best computer, modern communication tools, fancy filing cabinet, and shelves stocked with resource books?
While it is tempting to equip a dedicated office with all the mod-cons; hold off. Even if you want to start a writing business, build up your resources as you can afford them, rather than loading yourself with debt and its resultant anxiety, which don’t bode well for any new career.
Start with what you really need: a pen and paper, plus ideas and a desire to write.
This is a list of the things you are likely to need, in the approximate order you are likely to require them:
- Basic writing stationery. Unless you really are averse to handwriting, it is less intimidating than a blank screen, and thus more personal. Handwriting is usually easier for brainstorming and first drafts too, especially for beginners.
- Dictionary and thesaurus. Even if you are a terrific speller with a huge vocabulary, it is still a good idea to have these books at hand, to help you choose just the right words.
- Communication tools. A phone – though few people don’t already own at least one of these – and access to a computer with internet facility.
- Your own computer, with a good word-processing function.
- A printer is essential for sending hard copies of your writing to editors, and keeping back-up copies of your work.
- Internet access. Broadband is definitely better for the writer, especially if you are sending large files such as photos.
- Specific resource material. This is particularly important if you wish to specialise in a subject area, such as medical writing.
If you are writing as a business, even part-time, you will be able to claim your expenses (all of some expenses; a portion of others) against your tax able income. Seek financial advice as required.
Other items I have found helpful are:
- A camera to take photos to accompany articles. It isn’t too hard to find inexpensive digital cameras that take reasonable quality (a minimum of 4MP still suffices for most publications; 6MP is better). Film cameras aren’t as useful for the writer, unless you can get films developed immediately, and have a scanner to send the pictures.
- A recorder, to use in interviews. Mobile phones or mini-cassette recorders are fine to start with; stepping up to a digital recorder when you can. These devices are easy to use and, unless you are terrific at shorthand, are very helpful.
- Filing cabinets, bookshelves, and other office paraphernalia. These become necessary to store correspondence, copies of your work, and research material.
Writing in as ongoing journey, and is likely to require different resources as you get to each destination, so this is not intended as a static list. As you go on, you can update second-hand items you may have bought.
Newer items are being produced so quickly that this list is likely to be out of date before I even press ‘publish’. I certainly don’t pretend to keep up with technology, but neither do I find I need to. As a writer, all you really need…