The Bear Necessities

The tools we need to write a story are pretty simple: a pen and any blank surface will do. I’ve scribbled on napkins, the back of bills and homework. These days, it’s easy to grab a computer, and the oral storytellers of many cultures need only their voices. Despite all that, there are still some writing necessities I can’t do without:

My 1962 Roget’s International Thesaurus
I’m sadly attached to my thesaurus. Its binding is falling apart, but this thesaurus kicks the booty of any online version, hands down! It was originally my mom’s (or dad’s?), and I snuck it out of my folks’ house when I went to college…I don’t think they’ve missed it. :) It’s old school with tabs for each couple of letters, it’s thick enough to knock somebody out, and it’s helped me find the perfect word choice countless times. You steal my thesaurus at your own peril!

Mini Tape Recorder
Life can get crazy busy sometimes. There are many nights I have only 30 minutes at home, so I’ve fallen in love with my mini tape recorder. I can dictate chapters that have been screaming in my brain all day in less than half the time it would take me to write them, then I’ll go back and type them up when I catch a few free moments. I’ve been doing this for years and it’s helped so much! I keep the recorder by my bed at night to capture those scenes that come right as I’m falling asleep (aren’t those always the best!), and I occasionally take it on long road trips in case the radio or landscape inspire me.

Papermate Blue Pens
Out of necessity, I do a lot of my writing by computer these days, but I’m still a firm believer that the story flows better longhand—that’s how I prefer to do first drafts. When I hand-write, I have an odd little writer’s tic. I love blue pens! Particularly blue Papermate ball point pens. It’s not like I can’t or won’t write in other colors, but it just feels right with the blue.

So that’s my “must-have” list. What do YOU always keep stocked in your writing arsenal?


  1. Ohh... good question! I have to have a package of loose-leaf college-ruled paper, a legal pad in white (no yellow, *shudders*) and a new package of black Pilot G2 roller ball pens.

  2. I've always been fascinated by the mini tape recorders, but have never been able to use one to much good. Not sure why, since I'm a big fan of reading aloud. Maybe I brainstorm better on the page. Maybe hearing my own voice distracts me.

  3. TL - I also shudder at the yellow, and I definitely make sure my notebooks are college-ruled. Wide-ruled drives me nuts. :)

    Hektor - Ha, good point! I always laugh/cringe at my whispering on the tapes.