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Seven Tools Every Writer Needs

Writing for some people is the toughest job you can ever ask them to do yet given the right write tools and circumstances anyone can actually write high quality articles with a little bit of work and practice. There are in fact seven tools every writer actually needs regardless of whether they are writing a novel, a science document, a University assignment, a web article or journal for the local paper. Without these tools you will find it very difficult to succeed.

Tool #1 - Book and Pencil

The Book and Pencil is one of the most important tools you will ever use. I carry a book and pencil where ever I go so that I do not miss out on the ideas I have, words that I have heard and the visuals in front of me. The key advantage of the book and pencil is that when you see something or have a good idea, you write it down so you do not forget.

For example, while I was in bed last night I was thinking about a new article that I could write. This article in fact because I wanted to help new writers. The first thing I did was to jot down the title in my book and then the seven tools I believe every writer should have.

I actually have two books I use for writing, a little A6 size pad that fits in my wallet and another journal size A4 book for writing more detailed information. Whenever you a walking around a shopping centre or out to dinner, use the little A6 wallet book to write down words you hear and phrases you see so that you can use those in your writing. Often people you come across from other states or countries will use different phrases to say the same thing, and often those phrases can be sexier than your own and may inspire more readers to read your material.

Tool #2 - Dictionary

No writer can survive without a dictionary. I still have my Macquarie dictionary I got when I was in Grade 2 which is some (a slight pause here to realise one has gotten old) 30 plus years ago. However, if you are just starting out there are lots of really cool online dictionaries out there for free now. Alternatively, I also recommend visiting a book fair held by Charity Groups. In Australia, Lifeline holds a book fair every year and you can actually buy bags of books for a dollar and very often they will have a couple of thousand dictionaries there for just which is really cheap.

So, why do we need a dictionary? Actually for two reasons, the first is to make sure we spell the words correctly and for all the techno geeks who say, but the computer can do that, let me inform you, not all words in the electronic dictionaries are correct and there are lots of words that do not exist. The second reason, and this is the most important reason, the dictionary will tell you the meaning of the word, which helps ensure the word you are using is the right one for the context of your article.

Tool #3 - Thesaurus

This is one of the most awesome tools for writers. A thesaurus allows you to look up a word and to find a better word to use than the one you used. So here is a really good exercise. I have used my thesaurus to locate more appropriate words for that previous sentence so here is the result

The Thesaurus allows you to hunt for those words that are more appropriate and improve the sound of the language in your article.

You will notice that I substituted the word "better" for "improve" and rewrote the statement using words that were descriptive to outline what you were trying to achieve like "hunt", "more appropriate" and "sound of the language". When you are writing the thesaurus can be a fantastic and fun tool to help you dramatically improve the language of your documents or articles.

Tool #4 - Digital Recorder

As a writer the digital recorder has become a mainstay of our industry. The digital recorder allows you to simply speak into the recorder and record parts of your article without having to laboriously (notice the use of the descriptive term my thesaurus is working overtime today) write it down. One thing you might want to consider is purchasing a PDA that includes a digital recorder and the ability to write down notes and take phone calls so that you are not carrying a million and one devices. The new PDA's I have bought for my team actually have software that is voice activated so that when they have an idea or want to add to a previous message you can do so without having to press any buttons.

Probably the most common profession that uses the digital recorder is the legal profession. My lawyer uses one every single time I go into a meeting to tape his notes and letters I am going to receive and get charged a fortune for.

Tool #5 - A Good Library Of Books

Look the number ONE tool every good writer needs is their own library of books. A good writer will also be a good reader and the more you read the better your writing will become. I now have in-excess of 10,000 books in my collection and growing. My library of books range from fiction to non-fiction, research journals, magazines and much much more and I am building an even bigger video selection as well.

Why?

Well the more exposure you have to the various writing techniques and languages by the citizens of the world and the more refined your own technique will become. Further to that you need to gain a solid understanding of what technique is appropriate for the medium and the audience you are writing for. For example, the style of writing I use for articulating articles for the web will be of a more relaxed nature and more personal than for a document I might be producing for a corporate organisation. To be a really great writer you must be able to be flexible in the style you use dependant on the type of document or article you are writing.

Great writers are not born, they create themselves through practice. When I was at school, even through to high school I was a terrible writer but as I have practiced more and more (with the help of my mum), my writing has improved 100,000 percent and I know the more I write the better I am getting at structuring the article and making it flow and the faster I can write.

The library of books will be a great source for research as it will allow you to see how different writers structure their sentences, the sort of words they use how they describe experiences and use descriptive words like adjectives in their sentences. When you are building your library, do not get caught into the trap of buying just brand new books and to be honest that is an expensive way to start. Like I said before, visit places like the Book Charity Fairs and second hand book dealers and often you will find bags of books for just . I recently went to a Lifeline Book Fair and we bought bags of books for . The more extensive the library of books you have, with styles from the past and the present, the more effective, fantastic and outstanding your writing will become.

Tool #6 - Quality Music

Everybody has heard of writers block and I am not really sure there is such a thing, but some days I do find it harder to write then others. However, one way I overcome this problem is by listening to music that will help entice the creative element of my brain. The music I have found that is really good for this is baroque music which is played at 60 beats a minute.

Briefly, research shows that baroque music at 60 beats per minute causes your brain to produce more alpha [calmness] waves. This happens on both left and right sides of your brain.

This simply means that you calm down and relax, in a way similar to when you whistle a happy tune, or when you daydream. This "alpha" state of mind is ideal for learning, creativity, or just relaxing. It is used in schools all over Australia. A quote from the teacher of a remedial class here in Australia: "It seems to slow them down so they can think."

I have seen corporate trainers improve the effectiveness of training sessions dramatically by playing Baroque Music during a session and the creativity really comes to the forefront. A colleague uses the music as background for his memory training seminars and swears by it because recall and creativity are improved.

Tool #7 - A Good Computer

Nobody in the world today can seriously survive a writing career without a good computer. If you are going to be writing professionally for a media house, newspaper or magazine, you will need a good computer as they will not accept your copy without it being in electronic form. Gone are the days where a writer would produce their manuscript in hand written form and send it to their editor. Those days are well and truly over.

On your computer you will require a few pieces of software to make your computer worthwhile. The first thing you will need is an Internet connection, without it you will not be able to email your copy and as I said all media houses, newspapers and magazines today require their writers or journalists to produce electronic copy. You will also need a good word processing software application. If you can afford it, I strongly recommend Microsoft Word 2003 simply because of the quality of the spell checker and built in Thesaurus. I also recommend this version as you can now use the speech recognition software in the application to dictate your article into the computer. Many years ago you had to actually buy third party applications, like Dragon Speak.

The last thing as a writer you will need is a good printer. Do not scrimp on printers, because as a writer you will probably find it is easier to review you work printed out, so buying a cheap printer will normally cost you 3 times as much as a slightly more expensive printer. I recommend to all my clients to buy a laser printer over an ink jet when you are writing as a laser copy is less likely to smudge when you write notes on the copy.

To finish off, writing can really be a really fun and exciting career or simply something to do in your days off, but having the right tools will certainly make life a lot easier for you. Here are the seven tools every writer must have:

Tool #1 - Book and Pencil
Tool #2 - Dictionary
Tool #3 - Thesaurus
Tool #4 - Digital Recorder
Tool #5 - A Good Library Of Books
Tool #6 - Quality Music
Tool #7 - A Good Computer


About the Author: Chris Le Roy has available tools to help you with your creative writing - Meditation Music, Microsoft Word Tutorials and a list of Keyboard Shortcuts to help you with Microsoft Office.




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