What is it about shopping for back-to-school supplies that is so…rewarding? Is it the excitement inherent in starting anew? The smell of fresh crayons (C’mon! I know you smell them too!!), and sharp pencils that hearkens back to our school years, when we were young and much more innocent?
Whatever it is, shopping for my kids this month inspired this post when I saw how all the things in my cart could be used to enhance each writer’s daily lives. August is THE MONTH to shop for most, if not all, of our writer-ly supplies, and you can get these for next to nothing at the supercenters and office supply shops, so clip those coupons, and check out how these August deals can help your writing career!
Top 6 Back-to-School Supplies for Writers:
1. Computer/Printer/Accessories: If you’re in the market for a new PC, laptop, printer or any computer accessory, this is the month with your best pricing! The office supply stores are readying for the college students, and guess what? As a writer, your computer usage is similar to that demographic. Take advantage of the deals, and get yourself within 2 versions of the most recent in terms of technology. You’ll need it by contract time!
2. Notebooks and Journals: A writer’s staple. You should have a notebook in every car, in your purse, in your house, etc. so you are always ready to jot down that perfect bit of dialogue, or that ingenious plot twist. My best ideas come in the shower, and I’ve been known to write on the shower glass so I don’t forget…then have to steam up the shower again to take it down on paper!
3. Index cards: This is the method that many writers use to plot–write out each scene or bit of a scene on an index card. Line them up into chapters, re-arrange as necessary, insert plot twists, character reminders, etc. and voila! You’ve plotted with index cards! Want to try it yourself? There’s a great tutorial here on Writer’s Digest, and author Holly Lisle shares how to do this in an article here called, “Notecarding–Plotting Under Pressure.” I’ve used this method, and plotting with notecards can simplify an overwhelming process.
4. Printer Paper: While much is done via Word Track Changes, email and online, nothing beats the printed copy, especially for the revision process, as well as having a hard back-up copy, just in case! I print my galleys of each novel I submit and do my final revisions in paper–somehow, it’s easier to spot errors for me in paper version vs. on the computer screen. As a bonus, I typically will offer this hard copy once the novel has released as a special contest giveaway for my readers! That way, the printing will also be a “prize” later on, and I can justify (and write off) the paper and ink expense.
5. Pencils and Highlighters: Pencils because they are just so old-school, they work when your fingers refuse to budge on those keys! I revert to pencil and paper when I’m stuck in a ‘writer’s block’ and often it’s just the labor of writing it out long-hand that makes the creative juices plentiful once more. Highlighters are good for the revision process, and also to mark up those books you own to study that author’s technique. We’ve discussed this many times in SSRA meetings that using novels as reference materials can be more helpful than any training session to understand pacing, plot twists, character arc and switching POV.
6. Book-Signing Pens: I had to have a separate category for this because I feel very strongly on what type of pens you should use for a successful book signing. A marker or Sharpie will often bleed through the page–a no-no for an author signing a fan’s book. Regular old ink pens are okay, but some smear, and some don’t write evenly. From much trial and error, I’ve determined the very best pen for me to do book signings is the Tul Rollerball, Medium-point in black. It’s silky smooth to write with, never falters, and doesn’t bleed through the page. I always stock up on these as well as Metallic Silver Sharpies for signing my recipe cards (as mine are black background and a black won’t show up properly). Whatever your preference, stock up, because the prices are likely the lowest they will go this month.
So…go shopping! Experience the thrill of back-to-school shopping and restock your writer’s supply cabinet! And…buy a package of crayons. Just to sniff ’em! 🙂
SSRA President and Shameless Crayon Sniffer
Dylan married her high-school sweetheart and they are busy living out their own happily ever after in sunny Florida with their two incredible daughters and a snoring Shiz-Tsu.
Dylan can be found online at: DylanNewton.com