Do you have the tools you need to be successful as a freelance writer?
Although there are some basic tools every freelance writer needs, people often spend time worrying about the things they would like to have. When I first started as a full-time freelancer, I spent a lot of time shopping for a perfect desk, chair and fun accessories. Years later, I realize that I write at my desk less than 20 percent of the time.
Although a comfortable place to right is necessary and it can be fun and helpful to have some of the latest gadgets, here are the 5 most basic tools every freelance writer needs.
You need regular access to a computer, preferably one you own. We have a family desktop computer in our house, but I also have my own personal laptop. This allows me to keep research and writing files organized, set up my own online and desktop preferences for efficiency, and remain logged in to numerous sites so I’m not always re-entering passwords.
In days past, you could write almost all your manuscripts in longhand and type them up on a borrowed machine at school or the library. Although you could technically still do that for something like a short story or novel, the online nonfiction and copy writing market is so fast-paced and competitive, you need to be able to write quickly and efficiently in order to make a living. A computer is a must.
2. Internet Connection
Access to the internet allows you to conduct research for stories or articles, read about places to submit your manuscript, find an agent for your book, or locate writing jobs or clients. Today, one way to break into a freelance copy writing job is to write online SEO and article content for brokers. In order to be competitive and make any money, you absolutely must have a stable internet connection during your writing hours.
3. Library Card
Often, writers need to consult experts or conduct in-depth research. You can’t always get the exact information you need online, but shelves full of non-fiction books or subscriptions to magazines can be expensive. What if you are researching past events? You can’t subscribe to newspapers from fifty years ago. However, you might be able to view a copy at your local library.
A library card gains access to almost unlimited books, as well as several helpful services. Most libraries offer free internet connections, low-charge copy making and occasional writing seminars.
4. Word Processor
You definitely don’t want to type your entire manuscript or article into the basic notepad accessories that come with most computers. A decent word processing program is definitely a need if you want to be a serious freelance writer.
Spell and grammar check tools alone are usually worth the cover price with a program like Microsoft Word, but you also get formatting ability, import and export options, and a number of other tools that can help make your life easier. You can often save money by purchasing a student version of the basic Microsoft suite.
This may seem a little low tech, but a good writer always has a way of jotting down notes. Award-winning author Neil Gaiman had his signature leather jacket specially made with an inside pocket big enough to carry his favorite sized Moleskine notebook. Author Anne Elisabeth Stengl carries a journal with inside pockets instead of a purse.
A notebook can be used to record your thoughts, sudden inspirations, or to-do lists. A good writer is always writing, somewhere in his subconscious. You never know when something important will bubble to the surface, but I guarantee you won’t always remember it later. You might even want to keep a notebook and flashlight next to your bed for late night bursts of creativity!
With just these few basic tools, you can work to become a successful freelance writer. Of course, everyone has different preferences, and you might come up with an item or two you can’t write without. I have a friend who swears every good freelance writer needs a tea kettle, for example. What is certain is that, in addition to these items, you need to be able to work hard in order to make your dreams come true! What about you? What’s in your tool belt?