But in classic, "If you a give a mouse a cookie (then he'll want a glass of milk)" style, if you want to be a freelance writer, you'll need a few more items at your disposal beyond a notebook and pen. I know, I know. Rude.
While writers are notorious tech-phobes and pretty staunchly opposed to change -- why else do we writers make a big fuss about self-publishing and ebooks? -- if you're want to compete in the 21st century writing markets, you're going to have to keep up with the times to a certain extent. The other day I read a freelance writing article (which I now can't find to link up) that said something along the lines of "Sure, you can not have a computer and be a freelance writer, but see how well that goes when someone says 'email that to me' and the best you can do is crumble up a piece of paper and throw it across the room."
Here's my low-tech list of the bare necessities you'll need as a freelance writer:
(I bet you have most or all of these already.)
- A computer, preferably a laptop, that isn't terrible prone to the "blue screen of death."
- A word processing program - Microsoft Word seems to be what most editors use.
- An internet connection - for your email, website, and social media platform
- Email - for contacting editors and submitting pieces
- A phone - for interviews
- An invoicing system - like Quickbooks
- A decent camera - you'll greatly increase your earning potential if you can provide decent photos with your articles. I just have basic Canon point and shoot camera which works well enough for what I need it to do, but I'd like to save up for a DSLR camera to up the quality of my photos a little bit.
While I'm a fan of keeping it simple, I have to admit my arsenal of freelance writing tools got a little high-tech recently when I was given a Livescribe Echo Smartpen.
After you're finished recording, you can tap any of the notes you wrote during the recording and the pen will starting playing the audio that was recorded at the exact time you wrote the note. You can load all of the recordings onto your computer and computer program even captures a digital image of the page you wrote on during the recording. The pen is a little bulky, but that's easily overlooked since the pen is basically magic.
My dad discovered the Smartpen when he read James Fallow's review of it in The Atlantic back in 2009 and what's good enough for James Fallows is good enough for this
While to date, I've stayed true to the general gist of what a person said in my article quotations, it's been extremely difficult to do a true word for word quotation unless you've recorded the interview, which I'm pretty psyched about my new Smartpen. No need to futz around trying to find the spot like I'd have to if I'd use a tape recorder or digital recorder to capture the interview audio; with the Smartpen I can just write something like "interesting" or "important" on the page when the interviewee says something meaningful and when I'm back in my office I just tap the word I wrote on the page and bingo, the audio starts playing right to the quote I wanted to use in the article.
The pen charges by being hooked up to a computer USB port and the battery and memory should be able to hand a full day of recording. Since most of the interviews I do are only about an hour long, that's plenty of recording time for me!
A writer really needs very few tools and gadgets to success. But sometimes, something as simple as just getting a little more high-tech about that pad of paper and pen we're using can make our low-tech careers just a little easier.
Do you have any must have writing tools?
Disclosure: I was in no way compensated for my review of the Livescribe Echo Smartpen. I'm just an enthusiastic consumer excited to have found a product that makes my writing life more efficient!