A lot of the suggestions given here on the Writing Advice blog are rather conceptual in nature: I recommend strategies, ideas, and practices to up your writing game.
But there are plenty of items — many tactile and physical — which are just as crucial to maintaining a writing career. So, here are six purchases that have helped me stay productive as a writer.
Disclaimer: This is not — in any way — a sponsored post. The recommendations given below are based on my genuine thoughts about the products, and I make no commission or affiliate income if you click the links provided here.
1. Cute Notebooks
Perhaps the most essential purchase for a writer is a plain old notebook. Having readily-available stationery is a must for any author.
Of course, you can buy whatever type of notebook you like — whether it be from a pricey bookstore or your local dollar store.
For me, I find that I work best with cute-looking, distinct notebooks. This is because — in the past — I’ve purchased random, plain-looking, cheap notebooks, and always lost track of them. Since they all looked the same and none of them really caught my eye, I had a hard time staying organized.
The solution? To spend a little extra on nice notebooks with designs that I love. That way, I feel motivated to grab them and always keep some handy at my desk.
My personal favourite is the Ssuiem & Cclim Compact Notebook, which is from a Korean stationery brand that I found at a local paper shop, Hanji Gifts (more on them later).
The notebook comes in a variety of adorable designs — so I always make sure to have a few on hand: one to consolidate all of my current rough work, and a back-up or two for when the first copy runs out. I like to rotate different designs just to keep things interesting.
But again, you may have different taste; perhaps you prefer leather-bound notebooks. Find a company, store, or style that you enjoy, and stick to a standard one for the sake of simplicity.
2. Easy-to-Use Pens
What is your favourite brand of pens? It may seem like an inconsequential detail to most people, but I think most writers would agree that having an easy-to-use pen makes a huge difference in terms of productivity.
Again, this is all up to personal taste, but my personal choice is the PaperMate InkJoy brand. I find them to be a pleasure to write with, and I use them for most of my freelance writing, personal journaling, or just for making to-do lists.
I often find them at my local dollar store (Dollarama here in Canada), with a box of 12 pens running no more than $2-3. I find that they strike a nice balance between affordability and quality.
So, find a brand that you enjoy using, and make a point of keeping your desk stocked with them for whenever inspiration strikes.
3. Music Subscription Service
This is by no means a required purchase, but I’ve found that having a Spotify Premium subscription (which I split with family members to keep the cost low) is extremely useful.
Paying the $4.99 a month for ad-free listening is worth it to me — both personally and professionally. For a long time, I opted for YouTube as my source of playlists to use while working on my laptop. If you’re on a budget, it’s a solid option — but the increasing number of ads on each video is kind of excessive at this point.
Shelling out for an ad-free service makes it easier to stay in my workflow without going back and forth between tabs to skip through ads. I like to listen to instrumental playlists to keep me focused and in the zone.
Other people might also prefer using a white noise machine, which can play ocean sounds or rain tracks to relax you in the background. That might be a worthwhile purchase if it suits your needs (I have one to keep running in my room at night, as well). Since it’s a one-time cost, it might make more financial sense, too.
Depending on your budget, find some type of music or background noises to help you stay focused on your writing work.
4. Quality Laptop
Again, this isn’t a must-have, but I’m a big fan of my MacBook Air. I purchased mine seven (!) years ago after saving up money from my part-time job for years and years. It was an investment I made right before starting university (since my dying, old laptop just wasn’t cutting it anymore).
Of course, everyone is working with a different budget. Some people have the funds to invest in a high-quality laptop, while others might resort to using computers at their local library.
Wherever you are financially, try to strike a balance between a computer that is within your budget but will still serve you well over time. Even though I paid over $1000 for that 2013 laptop, it has served me well throughout university and beyond without a single problem.
The only thing I’ve ever had to replace is my charging cable, and in the next year or so, I’ll probably shell out for a replacement battery. But when you break that purchase down into its cost-per-use, it’s actually pretty low at this point.
Having a reliable and fast computer has certainly helped me stay productive as a writer. Try to find an option that works for you.
5. Simple Pen Holder
This item certainly costs less than a laptop! For me, another invaluable purchase has been a simple pen holder that I bought at my local dollar store (again, Dollarama for us Canadians).
It’s pink, it’s cute, and it helps me stay organized. I keep it beside me at all times while working at my desk, and I can easily access pens, highlighters, pencils, and scissors as needed. This may seem silly and insignificant, but it has genuinely helped me stay on top of my work without having to interrupt my flow to search for a pen.
6. Zine Paper
Lastly, another worthwhile investment has been in high-quality paper to print my zines on. A couple of years ago, in between writing my two poetry collections, I wanted to take a less-structured approach to creating and publishing new work.
So, I opted to make single-page zines on which I’d copied and pasted miscellaneous new poems. I made them using my at-home printer/photocopier, and whenever I table at zine/book fairs, I still sell them in addition to my poetry books.
I found it useful to pay for high-quality, handmade paper which I also found at Hanji Gifts here in Toronto. You can always check out your local paper shop or office supply store for different options.
If you choose to go the self-publishing route, quality paper is a worthwhile investment to make your work look professional and catch the eye of a potential customer.
And there you have it: six essential purchases that help me stay productive as an author.
As always, thanks for reading the Writing Advice blog, and be sure to subscribe to receive notifications for each new article.
Let me know in the comments: What is one purchase — big or small — that you’ve found essential as a writer?