1. Necessary Equipment

At its most basic, the only equipment you need for writing is a pencil and a piece of paper. Salvador Dali reportedly wrote his autobiography in pencil on toilet rolls. But you're not Dali, are you? Pencil and paper is fine for jotting ideas down, roughing work out, even writing drafts of your piece - but when it comes to the serious stuff of composing your manuscript (hereinafter called the MS), you will need to toe the publishing line.

That means getting a typewriter, or (these days) more preferably a word processor machine or computer. Typewriters are fine if you are a skilled typist but they have one or two major drawbacks:

1. Make a mistake and you are faced with Tippex-ing it out. This makes the MS look very amateurish nowadays.

2. You may only be able to get one carbon copy of your work (two if you really bash the keys). This is frightening. One master MS? What happens if it gets lost in the mail? Sure, you have a carbon but no agent or publisher will give that house room. So you have to type it all over again . . .

Now I'm perfectly aware that some writers swear by their vintage Smith-Corona. Fine. They also probably take great care - very great care - to get it right first time and use it only for final drafts. The beauty of a computer/word processor is that you can edit on the fly. Misspelled that word? Put it right now. Don't like that line? Delete it now. I think you get the picture. Me? I have a laptop and wouldn't use anything else - they're so cheap these days even word-processors are disappearing fast.. So try and get hold of a computer with a good word-processing program (MS Word is the industry standard) and use that. You'll thank me for it. For the sake of clarity I'm going to assume you will be using MS Word or a similar word processing program on a PC computer. You can use a Mac - it doesn't make any difference. It just avoids writing "word processor/computer" every time, OK?

Get yourself, or get access to, a good laser or ink-jet printer. Forget daisy-wheel printers (if there are still any out there) and please do not use dot-matrix printers, especially nine-pin types. They are a sure way of your MS going in the out tray. Some businesses use 24-pin dot matrix printers and these are just about acceptable if you really cannot get access to a laser printer. Laser printers - especially mono ones - are fairly cheap these days and the print quality and speed are both great. You won't need a colour one. MS's are strictly black print on white paper.

Assuming you have a workplace (next topic - don't peek!), try by any means to get a comfortable chair. You may well be sat in it for hours at a time so it really does pay to get one you like and that doesn't leave you feeling like you have rusted up solid when you rise from it.

What else? A bookcase is handy for reference books and paper. A filing cabinet of some kind is ideal for storing idea sheets, clippings, photos, drafts etc. And of course a desk! When you have assembled all this here are a few other bits and pieces that are handy:

· Pens and pencils, together with a pencil sharpener

· Erasers

· Blank floppy discs (yes they are still used!) or CD-ROM's or thumb drives

· A big stapler

· Paper clips

· Bulldog clips

· Rubber bands

· Clear adhesive tape

· A good selection of envelopes

· A supply of large bubble-lined envelopes

· Mailing labels

· A scale for weighing envelopes

· A clock (let's you know just how long you have been slogging away!)

· Sticky notes

· A ruler

· A wastebasket

· Scissors (good ones)

· A letter opener

Frightening, isn't it? but remember that this ebook is about how to be a writer - not just how to write. You wouldn't expect a joiner to build a windowframe with no tools, would you?

Not all this is totally necessary, of course. Most of it comes over time and you will eventually have supplies to hand that suit you and your style of writing. I'm just trying to make the point that writing isn't just about putting words on paper. It's also about having the right tools for the job. You will find - as I did - that having all this paraphernalia to hand enables you to concentrate on your primary objective: writing that book!

'But hang on a minute -' you say, 'suppose I simply can't afford all this? What then?'

Don't despair. I'll go into this in more depth later on but rest assured that, if all else fails, then pencil and paper can still get you there.

For now, we'll assume that you have your computer and printer and are well on the way to obtaining the rest of the list shown above. There's just one more important thing to have. Any guesses? I'll tell you anyway.

It's light.

'Well that's obvious!' I hear you say. Yes it is -but it's important. Writing can be very hard on the eyes, especially when gazing at a computer screen, so make sure you have plenty of light - if not natural, a good desktop lamp. Again, you will thank me for it.

Now the question arises: where am I going to write? Not what, you notice, but where. Let's look at that now in our second topic.

Index page 2. The importance of the workplace 3. Choosing the right book for you to write. 4. Ideas and how to get them. 5. How to plan a story. 6. How to make characters come to life. 7. Plotting your story. 8. Self-editing and the final draft. 9. Agents and Publishers 10. Writers' groups. 11. Writing competitions. 12. Reference works.