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Tools of the trade June 1, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in Business Issues, writing/editing/blogging.
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There are many tools that writers (and editors) use regularly. Staples in their bags of tricks are of course, paper, writing implements (many of them), style guides like the AP and Chicago and MLA manuals, correction tape, dictionaries and thesauruses and of course, the phone, computer and printer. Technology has certainly made the life of writers and editors much easier, the Internet allowing us to maintain constant contact (and incessantly check e-mail) and send and receive submissions with greater speed if not ease. It also means that we can network with one another more effectively, supporting one another and nurturing our craft from miles and timezones apart, going beyond the traditional in-person groups and salons. (That’s “salon” in the old sense, not the place where many of us wish we had time for touch-ups and pedicures.) Oh yeah, and we have an outlet for sharing the fruit of our creative juices, that might not be fit for traditional publication in extemporaneous writing on our personal blogs.

As a technogeek of sorts, I find that there are just some things I cannot live without, that go well beyond my arsenal of resources, laptop and DSL. Things like my headset, scanner and the external half-Terabyte hard-drive, which amazingly, between photos and files, will need to be upgraded much sooner than originally anticipated.

So imagine my surprise when my husband relayed a recent experience with a reporter. Scheduled for an interview, he arrived at his appointment. Now being married to a writer, who’s also a stringer for her local paper, he’s got a leg up on many other non-writers who would have been in a similar situation. Knowing that he would need to supply a head shot at the very least, he took it with him, in the event that the staff photographer was not scheduled to be at the interview. Many people would have arrived with physical copies of the photo and other graphic materials that might be needed, something that while is better than a photocopy, I hear from some professional graphic designers that I know, can still be a bit of an annoyance. And since my husband is also a bit of a technogeek, he arrived with his materials not on disk, but on a flash drive.

But back to the crux of his story. As if it wasn’t bad enough that the reporter had forgotten about the appointment and had to reschedule, she was shocked when he presented the flash drive to her. “I’ve never seen one of those before,” she told him. Now being technogeeks, both of us realize that we might be just a tiny bit more aware about “new technology” than others, especially if there’s a generation gap. (Not that flash drives can be described as “new.”) I asked him if that was the case. Nope. The twenty-something reporter was unfamiliar with a little tool of the trade, that as a writer, I find as essential as any of the other supplies that were enumerated at the beginning—the USB 2.0 portable flash drive. They’re pretty nifty little devices, aren’t they?

Portable flash drive

So, writers … what are your essential tools of the trade? Speak up and chime in by posting a comment.

Copyright © 2008, Erika-Marie S. Geiss



1. thewritingspider - June 1, 2008

I absolutely must have a notebook with me at all times. You know how alcoholics have bottles stashed all over? That’s me with paper and pens. I find that the answers to problems, the next chapter of the book, an idea for a story all hit me when I’m not in Writing Mode at the computer or brainstorming on purpose. I keep OneLook.com bookmarked (it’s a dictionary site). I need to get business cards. Yesterday at the grocery store I ended up writing my info on a scrap of my shopping list – very professional – for a woman who wanted to talk with me about writing for her company. The flash drive is a good idea though, hadn’t thought of that.

2. Karen L. Alaniz - June 1, 2008

I am definitely not technologically inclined, but I DO know what a flash drive is. Sheesh! That’s kind of scary. How could someone with a journalism background not know? Hmmm…

Let’s see, what could I absolutely not do without? Is a laptop too obvious? That’s definitely my answer. A desktop computer will not do-it’s a laptop for me. Though I find that I do concentrate better while working in my office, I’ve used my laptop everywhere, from a hotel room in Hawaii, to a local coffee shop. Love it!

3. Thursday Bram - June 2, 2008

As a writer, I think one of my most important tools is my camera. I do a lot of the photography for my articles myself, but I also use it find inspiration, record moments that would take me a thousand words to write. I’ve been known to photograph business cards, signs, all sorts of resources that I’ll need for later but don’t want to worry about losing.

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