Your writing space has taken shape. You’ve carved out a spot in your house/ apartment reserved only for writing, found the perfect desk and chair, chosen the best computer for your writing needs, and even replaced that grubby old desk lamp you used to have.
But your writing nook isn’t quite complete yet. You’ll need a few more things before you start writing your next bestseller.
Below you’ll find a list of common office equipment and supplies you might need.
Of course, you don’t have to check everything off this list before you actually start writing.
Choose the ones that are most important and focus on getting those first. (Hint: as long as you have a computer, printer, and some paper, you’re set) You can add the other ones as your career grows, or as the need arises.
This is your most important writing tool. Writing longhand and on a typewriter is fine to start with, but if getting published nowadays requires the use of a computer.
If you don’t know which one to pick, check out my article on A Writer’s Computer.
Dell Desktop, Image from nearnormalcy.com
You’ll need this for printing out those drafts for revision, as well as manuscripts to submit.
There are several types of printers to choose from:
Writers like yourself would probably end up choosing between an injket/laserjet printer.
||*Cheaper units initially-Ink cartridges are cheaper*You can have both colored and black and white prints*Better when it comes to printing colored photos or documents- Generally smaller in size, so inkjets are perfect if you don’t have much space on your desk or in your office
||* In the long run, printing with toners is cheaper at 6 cents per page*Printing is fast-Better text print quality. Ink on the paper won’t run or smudge*If you print a lot of black and white documents all the time (such as manuscript drafts), laserjet printers will save you time and money
||* In the long run, inkjet cartridges are more expensive—running about 20 cents per page*Printing speed can be slow*Text print quality isn’t as good as laserjet
||*Laserjets might be more expensive to purchase*Toners are pricier than ink cartridges, but last longer-Limited to only black & white Or colored prints (for colored laserjet printers)*Colored printing of photos isn’t as good as inkjet*Bigger than inkjet, so will take up more space
Scan pictures or articles from borrowed books/magazines for story idea inspiration, or as research materials for your book.
4. COPY MACHINE
Because sometimes you just need copies of things.
For shredding copies of important documents, papers with personal information and old manuscript copies.
Your agent/publisher might want to send you documents or contracts via fax machine.
My Personal Experience:
I have an HP Officejet 8500 A Multi-Function printer at home. It prints, copies, scans and even faxes. Though it was pricier than the common inkjet printer (and bulkier), it still saves me time, money and office space in the long run.
HP Officejet 8500 A Multi-Function printer, image from Amazon.com
A. COMPUTER/PRINTING SUPPLIES
1. Toner/ Ink cartridges
Best to keep a stock handy for your late night printing needs.
2. Blank CD’s/ DVD’s
Store digital copies of your research materials. Photos, documents, videos and music files for each book you’re writing can fit in one CD. You can keep these instead of actual hard copies, to reduce the clutter in your office.
3. Compressed air canisters for cleaning your keyboards/desk
Handy for keeping dust off your desk. Specially useful for cleaning your monitor, CPU and keyboard.
Dust Off compressed air, image from codinghorror.com
B. PAPER SUPPLIES
1. Copy paper
Usually cheaper than laser papers, copy paper is good for printing out those first few drafts for editing.
Hammermill Copy paper, image from thethriftycouple.com
2. Laserjet printer paper
Laser papers are usually thicker and brighter than regular copy printer. Useful for printing submission copies of manuscripts to agents/editors–and better suited to your laserjet printers.
3. Legal pads/ notebooks
Writers should never be without some form of paper for note-taking or writing down ideas.
Pad papers, image from supplysideusa.com
4. Post it notes
Incredibly helpful for reminders, notes, random story ideas and even plotting.
Image from captainnotepad.com
5. Letterhead/ Stationery
I created my own personal letterhead using Microsoft Word, and printed it on linen paper–which is available in reams at any office supply store. When I send off books for giveaways, I use my letterhead stationery to write a short note to the winner.
Linen paper, image from Staples.com
C. BINDING SUPPLIES
As a writer, you’re bound (pun intended ) to have tons of papers. To keep them organized, you’ll need the following binding supplies:
1. Stapler & staples
2. Binding clips
3. Fasteners for filing folders
5. Glue sticks
6. Scotch tape
7. Paper Clips
8. Comb Binding Machine & plastic binding spines **
**My Personal Experience:
Before I begin revising, I read my manuscript from beginning to end and make notes. I like to bind the pages so they never get out of order. In order to make my story better, I need to view it with a reader’s discerning eyes. Having bound pages helps me replicate the experience of reading an actual book and allows me to settle into the mindset of a reader.
The Fellowes Comb Binding Machine was a great investment. I use it to bind every manuscript draft I finish.
Fellowes Comb Binding Machine
D. FILING SUPPLIES
1. Manila folders
Useful not only for filing your bills and statements, but also for filing those critique notes and research materials for your book.
2. Hanging file folders with plastic tabs
To keep your file folders tidy inside your filing cabinet/drawer.
3. Labeling Machine
If you’re obsessive about being organized (like I am), you’ll find so many uses for a labeler.
Brother PT Touch Label Maker, image from neatandsimple.com
4. Ring Binders
If you like to keep old manuscripts drafts around for future reference, or simply because you can’t seem to part with them, you can use ring binders to keep them organized on your shelves.
You can also use ring binders to organize all your research for each book you’re working on.
3 Ring binders from sunpack.com
5. Index Dividers
Index dividers aid you in organizing files within your ring binders. You can buy them pre-made if you’re organizing by month, alphabet, or number. You can also buy blank ones and customize them to suit your needs.
If you write lots of short stories or picture books, for example, you can use index dividers to file them either by month, genre, or topic in your ring binders.
Avery Insertable Index Tabs, image from Amazon.com
E. MAILING SUPPLIES
Envelopes, labels and postage come in handy for bloggers who have book giveaways and authors who send out copies of their books to bloggers for reviewers.
1. Legal envelopes
Some agents still require snail mail for queries.
2. Padded envelopes
For sending those books/book giveaways.
3. Manila envelopes
These also come in handy not just for mailing, but for filing away story ideas.
4. Shipping labels
Shipping labels usually come in a standard 2 x 4 size. I use these not only for shipping, but also for labeling the cover of my file folders.
5. Mailing labels
Mailing labels are smaller versions of shipping labels (1 x 2 5/8 inches) and can be used not just for printing out addresses, but also for labeling your files.
I use these nifty things to label the tabs of my file folders.
F. ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPLIES
1. Desk calendar/Planners
You can always use google calendar or keepandshare.com to keep track of your writing schedule, but a desk calendar can be useful if you just want to check your schedule without having to switch on your computer.
2. White board/ Cork Board
For brainstorming story ideas, writing reminders and notes
Along with post it notes, you can also use these boards to plot your storylines, as shown in Rachel Vincent’s Plotting 101 guest post on Christy L. Parks’ blog.
Whiteboard+Post it = Plotting heaven, image from christylparks.blogspot.com
3. Rolodex or business card holders
For keeping track of your writing/business contacts.
FOR OFFICE ORGANIZATION
Here are some items to keep your office neat and organized:
*All images from thecontainerstore.com
1. Magazine Racks/ Wall pockets
I subscribe to three different writing magazines. I sort them into magazine racks like the one below. It’s certainly better than stacking them up in piles on the floor and tripping over them eventually.
2. Storage boxes
The Container Store, Ikea, Target and other department stores sell storage boxes that come in all shapes and sizes. I use these to organize my pens, markers, and other desk accessories.
Sometimes I use them for gathering story ideas. When I find an interesting picture/article in a magazine or newspaper, I drop it into my storage box of story ideas.
3. Drawer organizers
Rummaging around in your drawers for a paperclip or a pen can be time-consuming at best, frustrating at worst. Drawer organizers like the one below can help save your time and sanity.
4. Paper tray
I use a stackable paper tray like the one below to organize all the different kinds of papers I use for printing: copy paper, colored paper, photo paper, etc.
5. Waste basket/ Recycling basket
I actually have two baskets in my home office: one for waste, and one for recyclables.
6. Cable organizers to keep those desktop wires in check
If you have a desktop in your writing space, you probably also have tons of snake-like cables slithering all over your desks.
Cable drops, cable clips or cable ties all help keep your cord problems down.
What other office equipment or supplies can you think to add to this list?
Check out the previous posts in this Setting up Shop Series:
1. Part 1 – A Writer’s Space
2. Part 2 – A Writer’s Desk
3. Part 3 – A Writer’s Chair
4. Part 4 – A Writer’s Computer
5. Part 5 – A Writer’s Office Lighting
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