This month on Writers Ask Writers, we’re talking tools of the writer’s trade, and I’m delighted to welcome our special guest, Melbourne crime writer Angela Savage. I’ve just read the first in Angela’s Jane Keeney PI series (Behind the Night Bazaar), set in Chiang Mai, and can’t wait to read the rest (The Half-Child and The Dying Beach).
I don’t really think myself as having ‘tools of trade’, although I have a studio full of ‘stuff’ that probably qualifies. Here’s a random selection:
Reference books: shelves and shelves of them, accumulated over three decades of work as a book editor—many, perhaps most, of them pre-dating the internet.
Stationery: I couldn’t get by without my post-it notes, markers in every colour, and more pens and pencils than the average person would use in a lifetime. My late Burmese cat, Daisy, once famously ate all the post-it notes off the side of a manuscript, which is why her successor is not allowed on the desk!
Notebooks: ordinary A4 or foolscap lined lecture books, plus travel journals in all shapes and sizes.
Talismans: because I am open to the idea of good luck (not bad).
Manila folders: possibly half the world’s supply, and yes, I know what’s in most of them, although on occasion I’ve been surprised.
Tea: I drink copious volumes every day, at least partially as part of the creative process (time out).
Heavy-duty airconditioner: because I live in Perth!
Technology: I love my MacBook Pro—I’ve been using Macs since Macs began—and I work with Microsoft Word and the Macquarie Online dictionary.
That list only scratches the surface, and it excludes all the pinup boards, archive boxes and research books specific to each of my books. It also excludes these:
because I’ve given them up. Honest.
Here are the links to posts by the other writers, who all have interesting things to say about their tools of trade.
Angela Savage: ‘I love Chinese-made notebooks with nonsensical English phrases on the cover like “Health is the things that makes you feel that now is the best time of the year”…’—Read more here
Annabel Smith: ‘I make notes with a pencil and am especially fond of the ones made out of recycled Chinese newspapers—they are beautifully smooth—and sustainable—what more could a gal want?’—Read more here
Natasha Lester: ‘[Scrivener] is a note-taker, a word-processor, a scene organiser, a research collector, an organiser, a motivator; in short, it’s a miracle.’—Read more here
Sara Foster: ‘I like perforated notebooks so I can tear out pages and collate them properly. I save the pretty notebooks for diaries instead.’—Read more here
Emma Chapman: ‘I made myself a crucial “inspiration board” to remind myself that this process isn’t always easy, but that the most important thing is to keep going.’—Read more here
Dawn Barker: ‘If I write in the morning, a strong flat white. If I write in the evening once the children have fallen asleep, a big glass of wine.’—Read more here
What are your idiosyncrasies when it comes to tools of trade?
33 responses to “Writers ask writers: tools of the trade”
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Haha I love to picture you gobbling down party mix in your little workshop – so incongruous!
The false teeth make me feel particularly juvenile 🙂
what about the jelly moustache?!
🙂 oh, and snakes…
What did you actually do with the cat after it ingested all the fluorescent delights of the post-it notes? Or is that why that cat is no longer with us?!
! It’s a while ago now, but I think I was just speechlessly overwhelmed and had to have a bag of Party Mix and a lie-down 🙂
That was probably the best thing to do. Especially the Party-Mix.
You’re not supposed to lie down after a bag of party mix – you’re supposed to PARTY!
See, that’s where I went wrong. I will try to remember that advice, Annabel, in the event of such a calamity happening again and my actually surviving it. 🙂
Maybe it’s the crime writer in me, but I also wonder about the proximity of the phrases ‘late Burmese cat’ and ‘ate the post-it notes off the side of a manuscript’…
Such suspicion! 🙂 For the record: Daisy passed away of old age at 18.
…after digesting some excellent literature in her long and productive lifetime 🙂
(she was also partial to T-shirts and the lace on bras)
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The Cat Who Ate Post-its. I love it! And I’m so glad she lived to be a doddering 18 year old 🙂 For some reason my fictional cat Julius has unexpectedly metamorphosed into a gold Labrador called Jarrah. It is most unusual 🙂
Heavens, what a transformation, Rashida! Maybe Julius is destined to star in another novel 🙂
Amanda, this is hilarious! But I hope she didn’t hurl the notes back at you:)
Oh, she very likely did, Felicity. Cats are like that. She certainly didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. 🙂
Love this, Amanda. Given them up, eh? That’s not what your cat said when interrogated by the lolly police …
🙂 Thing is, Louise, I really had given them up. But then I had to take a photograph and everything went downhill from there…
I wouldn’t worry about it too much, Amanda. As far as addictions go, this one is pretty tame …
If only there was just one…
I’m glad you’re normal 😉
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