Tools For the Writer
By Joseph F. Clark
What kind of tools do you need to write? At the low end of the scale, nothing more than a few sheets of paper and a couple of pencils. On the high end of the scale, an expensive computer with all kinds of peripheral equipment such as printers, scanners, and more. Between the two, a writer can find exactly what he or she needs to accomplish their writing requirements, as well as fit their budget.
The purists among writers would use the paper and pencils, or maybe a typewriter. The more prolific writers have discovered computers. The difference between the old way and the new is speed. Speed in production that is, writing itself still remains a slow process because of the editing, re-writing, and revisions.
It is in the process of editing and re-writing in which the computer shines. Editing and re-writing using the paper process is more laborious and consumes a lot of paper; on the computer screen, the touch of a key can change the text, rearrange words, or move paragraphs. The writer can change the writing as many times as they wish and when printed, there is little waste of paper.
Another area in which owning and using a computer is beneficial for the writer is in research, communications, and business. For these reasons, a serious writer should invest in a computer. In addition to serving as a writing tool, the computer can also store important papers in electronic format for easier organization; spreadsheets can be used for tracking writing projects, income and expenses, taxes, and deadlines; financial software is useful for banking and online bill-paying; and when you think you have writer's block, you can play a game of chess.
Regarding research, the Internet is a wonderful tool for writers. With the click of a mouse button, a writer can research the electronic files of the Library of Congress from the comfort of their own writing office. Not only can you research the LOC, there are numerous universities which allow public research in their databases.
Email, for communications, is an absolute must for writers. The purists, the old-fashioned writers, they like the feel and smell of paper. They write their query letters very carefully, take great pride in folding the page just right into the perfectly addressed envelope, and apply the stamp. Then they wait for the mailing process to work. Sometimes they wait forever.
More editors and publishers accept electronic query letters. As timeliness becomes critical to magazine articles, rapid communication between editors and writers is essential. Nothing can beat the lightning speed transmission of a well written email. While one writer waits by the mailbox for a response from an editor, the modern-day journalist will query, write, and publish the same article.
If you are one of those people who has no desire to move into the 21st Century and learn how to use computers, think about this: all living species (including writers) must adapt to change or die. Learning to use a computer may be frustrating at first, but after you get the hang of it, you will quickly realize it does indeed, make your job easier.