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7 Essential Tools for Serious Writers That You Might Not Have Considered Yet

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I am a passionate historical fiction writer who has spent many hours working hard at writing novels, specifically one that takes place in Canada during WWI. While I was working away, I noticed a few things that I had come to rely upon to write my book. I would even venture to call these things essentials that every serious writer should have.

I don’t have a very big budget, so I have to keep things as inexpensive as possible, so nothing on this list is extravagant or extraneous. In fact, some of the items are completely free of charge! 

The first essential item that every writer needs is ruled notebook. It doesn’t have to be a fancy notebook, just a plain cheap composition notebook. You can usually get a multi-pack of them from Walmart or Amazon for under $10.

The composition notebook is used as a Writer’s Journal, which is basically an organized catch all for everything a writer scribbles here and there.

Most times, the journal is split-up into sections, such as ‘interesting names’ or ‘overheard dialogue’. Anything that could be used for a story is stored in the writer’s journal.  I won’t go on about it any longer in this post, but I plan to write an entire post about creating your own writer’s journal soon, so keep your eyes open for that.

Pocket sized notebooks are a writer’s must have! I cannot express this enough. I have a pack of 3″x 5″ notebooks that I got during a back to school sale, and they are amazing! They don’t usually cost very much either.
When you hear a new word, a strange name, or think of a scene for a story you are writing, then you have to get those down on paper immediately, or you will forget them forever, believe me. But who is going to carry a 7″ x 9″ notebook with them wherever they go? If you do, then great! But I for one, don’t. Instead I have one of these mini notebooks in my back pocket to use when I have an idea. I then later transfer those notes to my writer’s journal. Mini notebooks are a must have!
Pocket sized pens or pencils are a great idea to accompany the mini notebooks. You can typically get a whole bunch if them for a decent price, depending on what kind you get.

I prefer pencils, personally. They are erasable, and if they lid falls off or the tip pokes out, it won’t stain your clothes. The pencils pictured above are mechanical pencils, so you don’t have to bother about sharpening them, which is a plus. They also have erasers in the end and are only 3 1/2″ tall.

A big pad of sticky notes is another essential for writers. They can be used for some many different things and they are fairly inexpensive as well.
Sticky notes can serve various purposes, which is part of what makes them so great. You can use them as dividers in your writer’s journal, you can have them in your pocket for notes (I prefer the mini notebooks for this because it is easier to flip the pages, but sticky notes work), you can use them to mark passages and so much more. The only limit is your imagination, or so it seems!

A good dictionary and thesaurus are essentials for writers of any genre. It’s even better when you can get both in one, and pocket sized for under $20!

While this Pocket Oxford American Dictionary & Thesaurus might not hold every word in the English language, it holds a good amount while being a manageable size. Admittedly, you could use dictionary.com and thesaurus.com for free, and if you like those, that’s great. I personally don’t like some of the ads that they display on those sites though, so I tend to look for other resources such as a print dictionary.
I know this might seem bizarre, but for anyone who writes fiction, a good baby name book is an absolute essential! Think about all of those characters that fiction writer creates. All those characters need a name or two. The book pictured below cost under $15 and it is amazing!

100,000+ Baby Names by Bruce Lansky is the best baby name book for writers that I have come across so far. Here is what makes it so great for writers:

  • Firstly, it has a ton of names in it. Over 100,000 names!
  • It has several unique names in it for both boys and girls.
  • It has lists of popular boys and girls names by decade staring at 2017 all the way back to 1900. I write historical fiction, so I am often looking for popular names in a certain time period.
  • It has lists of popular names by country, and even by individual American States.
  • It has lists of names by impression. For example the names Bonnie, Millie, Benny, and Fred sound friendly, whereas names like Bruce and Ben sound strong.
  • It has lists of names of famous people.
  • It has a massive index of names with the language origin, meaning, and even alternate spelling and similar names all together. For example, the name Albert is of German/French origin and means noble and bright.
Doesn’t this book sound amazing? It offers so much, and yet costs so little!

7. An Online Grammar Checker

Using an online grammar checker such as grammarly is an essential. While you are writing, you get carried away in your ideas that you don’t often use perfect grammar or spelling. That’s why a grammar checker like grammarly.com, grammerlookup.com, or prowritingaid.com can be a really great tool.

You can use any of the services above for free to a certain extent, or you can get the pro version. I have used the free feature on all of them and it has worked pretty well.

The Grammarly.com version can be used either by copy-pasting your writing into their online page or you can install a browser extension. The free version checks for spelling errors, missing words, basic incorrect punctuation, clarity, engagement, and then gives you an overall score out of 100.

When you get the pro version, it checks for more advanced writing issues like intricate text, word choice, punctuation in compound or complex sentences and more. 

Prowritingaid.com does bascially the same thing as grammarly, but it checks for a little bit more than the other.

It looks for spelling issues, grammar issues, style issues, overused words on the first 500 words (more if you get pro), repeats on the first 500 words (more if you get pro) and other such things.

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There you have the 7 absolute essentials for serious writers, all of which are inexpensive or even free. I like to keep things cheap and simple. If you want to see all of the items together without the blog post in between, then check out our Writers Essentials page. I will update this page frequently as I find even more useful tools for writers.

Have you tried any of the products or services I mentioned? If so, then please share your experience in the comment section below. Please feel free to also mention what you, as a writer find are absolute essentials. I always like to hear from fellow writers what works for them.

If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, please pass it along to your writing enthusiast friends or family members.

Happy Reading & Writing!

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