There was a brief time in my youth that, obsessed with the legendary Canadian rock group Rush and Geddy Lee, and bored with just playing baritone horn in band, I fancied myself a bassist. I got myself a grey Ibenez bass and played around for a few years. I still have that bass, even though it’s been a long time since I played.
During that time, I had the opportunity to read a number of magazines devoted to the craft of guitar playing, such as Guitar World and Bass Player. At a certain point in these interviews with musicians, the conversations would inevitably turn towards what gear they used. For the guitar itself, that talk centered on what brands they preferred, whether they had a hand in helping design their guitars (like Eddie Van Halen did, for example), the types of pickups and strings they used, and the wood they liked to use in their guitars. Then they would get into the types of amps they used, what effects and digital processing equipment they used. (Steve Vai, who played with Frank Zappa, the number two electric guitarist of all time, and David Lee Roth, was known to be pretty excessive in his day with such things.)
I loved learning a bit about guitars were made and the whole reasoning behind their design. (I always liked the story of how Leo Fender created the modern electric bass guitar.)
Of course, with my interest in writing, I also would read articles about writers discussing their craft. Usually they were quite informative about the creative process, building plot and characters, and the importance of revisions and editing. They never habitually ever got into any similar “gear” talk about writing that guitarists slipped into. What type of pens do you use? Do you have a favorite word processor? None of that was really touched on.
I’ve thought about it for a while and I think it might be fun and possibly, remotely, informative to do a bit of gear talk here. I’m going to talk about that gear in general terms in this article, while I will go into further detail in later posts.
You don’t need all that much to write, to be honest. I prefer laptops for the flexibility and size savings. I’m not going to need a gaming PC any time soon. You also don’t tend to need a massive desk. You just need a good flat space to put your laptop and maybe a few items to make a good desk. As you can see from the photo, I don’t have too much space but the desk I have works all right for it and fits in the space I have very well.
Ever since college, I have been a Microsoft Word man. This was back in the days when Microsoft ruled the world, and it remains my preferred writing program to this day. I prefer to keep actual copies of what I write in places I can access without having to rely on the Internet.
That being said, however, I do like Google Docs and would likely rely on them if I was beginning my writing career today. There are so many opportunities to safe instantaneously and collaborate with others (maybe being more helpful as a teacher than a writer, but still…)
Also, you need to save your stuff in at least three different places if you want to guarantee not to lose written material. It’s electronic information, you can make as many copies as you want, chowder-head.
Pen/Pencil and Papery
I like decent pens that work, but I like mechanical pencils that are precise and that I can erase. I prefer using 0.7 mm lead because it usually doesn’t snap all the time and it is easy to get.
If I’m writing a lot of stuff but don’t have to worry about carting it around, I like yellow legal pads to get a lot of information down. If I want a notebook that you can carry along easily, I like Moleskin notebooks, the kind that Ernest Hemingway and many other writing artists used. (Yes, this probably means I am at least slightly pretentious.) My personal preference is for the really little notebooks that you can fit in the pocket of a pocket T-shirt. (PROTIP: You always need at least two writing utensils when you are out and about. This stems from the good old days when I was a reporter and you always needed to take good notes when the occasion called for it.)
Like I said, I will talk in more detail about my preferences and the reasons for them in later blog posts. I’m always looking for new writing topics to talk about.