Essential for My Craft

Essential for My Craft
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The dictionary describes ‘essential’ as important, vital, fundamental, needed as opposed to wanted. The term must be objective then, right? Yet, what is essential in a situation for one person can, indeed, be different from what is essential for another. That sure does sound subjective to me. Does it sound that way to you?

The craft of writing has been around, literally, for eons (not to be confused with ions). During each age, the tools of the trade have changed, if only so slightly. Writing on paper (papyrus) has been the means to last the longest. Still, now that we’re firmly in the digital age, the use of this tool is playing second fiddle, if playing at all.

It’s a somber realization for me seeing that I grew up learning how to write print and cursive through grade school, using a Big Chief tablet and number two pencils. Although my penmanship was definitely legible, it wasn’t beautiful. It was something I always strived for though. Now, I rarely pick up a pen or pencil, and the stack of spirals I own sit in a drawer, most of them clean of any scrawling whatsoever. When I do use pen and paper, I’m appalled at how terrible my penmanship has become.

Therefore, one of my essentials for my writing craft is a keyboard, preferably on a computer instead of a word processor or typewriter.

The computer has everything to do with my next essentials, the dictionary and thesaurus. I have both in physical book form, but I find the ones online easier to use and, let’s face it, more up to date. There are times when I do miss sitting with the hardbound dictionary or thesaurus and just browsing through the millions of words. Although this can also be done on the internet, the emotional connection isn’t there. Maybe it’s just me and my inability to daydream online.

My fourth essential is maps. Like the two prior, I, most definitely, want the ones online. Trying to find that map that is going to give me the detail needed is near impossible away from the computer. I’ve hunted in libraries, travel agencies, Sociology departments at colleges, and sadly, have even tried atlases. The maps online are a God-send. No doubt about it.

Environment affects me to the utmost. Right now, my essentials in this area are not being met. I struggle more with the process of writing because of these deficiencies.

My desk, although a computer desk with the slide-out table for the keyboard, is too small. I cannot have reference books within my reach. I do, however, have what I call my goodie box where I keep more personal stuff within my grasp. It holds ibuprofen, hand cream, three pens I love to use when I do use a pen, sticky note pad, bookmarks, dinky flashlight (we have power outages here), and a square box of Kleenex. Could I have this box somewhere else? Sure, but my reference books still wouldn’t fit on this small desk, so I choose keep my goodies at hand. The reference books sit high on a shelf in back of me.

I do have a printer, an Epson. Unfortunately, it can’t sit on the TV cart I’m using for it so that it’s efficiently accessible to me. The wretched thing sits facing away from me. This means when I want to print something out, I must leave my chair to insert the paper correctly and make sure everything is working as it should. When the printing is done, I must get out of my chair again to gather it all up. Sure, a little bit of exercise is good for me. However, on days when my right leg and foot have decided to be obstinate, this wee bit of moving around becomes a big giant burden.

The area I have to work in is small. If I had the other things environmental-wise, all of it wouldn’t fit in this space. My druthers would be to have a quiet ten-foot by eight-foot room with one wall being all closet. The window would be situated so that I could use the natural light and even do a little daydreaming without moving from my keyboard. I’d have efficient electrical lighting throughout the room and an overstuffed chair to sit in while marking up my printed drafts and reading books about writing.

A coffee maker would be a nice luxury in such a room too.

Now then, those are my essentials. Other writers need transportation and a laptop so they can go to where they do their better work. Some need noise around them. (How do they stand it?) Still others are inspired by nature.

In my opinion, the term ‘essential’ is very subjective.

This entry is in response to Joe Bunting’s post at The Writing Practice.


14 thoughts on “Essential for My Craft

  1. Good list. I rarely print though I have two printers. Both are within easy reach, but seldom used. I have pens and post-its which I use more than I’d expect. I often jot a note down so I remember to type it into its permanent home!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glynis Jolly

      I haven’t used the printer that much yet and it isn’t solely because of how it’s situated. I’m just not at the point in my WiP for a printout.

      I use the stickies for things that usually aren’t related to my WiP — like writing down prescriptions before calling them in, trying out passwords for sites before actually using them, etc. I should get myself a wall board of some sort for ideas. I bet I’d use the stickies a lot more that way.


        1. Glynis Jolly

          I probably won’t use mine for drafts either until I get to the one I send out the beta readers. One of my beta readers is my mom. Yep, I’m that brave. I know full well she’ll be marking it up so it’ll be hard to recognize. However, I also know she’ll save me some money when I send my WiP to an editor. I won’t mind the cost of the paper, ink, and book rate mail for her. 😉


      1. I manage Information Services for a small insurance company and I do some programming and web stuff. I have a desk here at home but after a day at a desk at work, it hurts my neck and shoulders to sit longer at a desk. The problem with my work area at work is that it was designed for old school management, the kind that had people to type and make arrangements. It’s not well suited to modern work but replacing it isn’t in any budget or design.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Glynis Jolly

          Sounds like the desk I have. Although, maybe it’s my chair. When it was bought, I had a terrific desk with cubbyholes and my pc sat higher than the rest of the desk. This chair sits too high for me now and the back won’t come forward enough to support my back.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. For me, it’s the height of keyboard and monitor. I need to look straight at monitor and be able to move the kb around a lot. I have a good setup at work but I can’t duplicate that at home.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Glynis Jolly

              I need the monitor exactly in front of me and more or less eye level too. I need my board stationary though. From what you state, it sounds like you have the board on your lap at times. If my chair would sit down a little farther, I’d like to try that. Maybe I’d feel more comfortable whacking away at my WiP.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I do put the keyboard on my lap at times. I also work with my laptop on a pillow on my lap with the screen kinda-sorta angled so that it’s almost at eye-level as I lean back in a chair at home. It sounds awful, but it never leaves me in pain the way working at a desk does.

                Liked by 1 person

  2. Great topic. My essential when editing is the larger monitor I hook my laptop up to. Last year about this time my eyes were really strained. Turns out it wasn’t just the strain for being in front of a computer so much that was straining my eyes, it was the angle. When I was editing at my laptop I had to always look down at the screen. The bigger monitor works better at my desk because I look forward and not down. It really helps my eyes. A few weeks ago, I had to do some work at the public library and that was actually even more eye-opening because their monitors are even bigger than mine with astounding resolution. Now I have monitor envy 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glynis Jolly

      I get eye strain but mine comes from another source. I read better and faster up and down, something like it is in a newspaper (of course I need bigger print). I have a Kindle Fire that I play around with, but I don’t think I could ever use it for anything meaningful other than reading digital books and documents because of the ‘look down’ problem.


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