Tools of the Trade

Now that we’ve got the writing venue settled, do we need any particular tools?

If you use a computer or a word processor – yes, I still have one in the cupboard under the stairs. An unwise purchase that was upgraded to the PC I swore I didn’t need almost as soon as it was out of the box – do you have favourite fonts or size of typeface? Some fonts seem to lend themselves to particular styles of writing. I usually write in 10-point Verdana, but I’ve been through my Comic Sans MS (humorous writing) and Arial (reports and reviews) phases too.

I don’t like fonts with serifs and I will always choose a sans serif over something with fancy flourishes. So I wasn’t very happy when I started submitting work to publishers to be informed that the publishing establishment seems to prefer submissions to be presented in a serif font such as Times New Roman. I eventually settled for Cambria – maybe that was the cause of the rejections.

If you’re using a typewriter, what weight of paper do you prefer? Do you have a favourite colour in the white/off-white/cream spectrum? Do you use a carbon? Can you still buy carbon paper?

When it comes to writing implements, the world’s your lobster. Pens, pencils, gels, felt tips, biros, rollerballs and fountain pens. What kind of nib – fine, thin, thick, italic? And the colours. Do you write in vivid purple or mental green? I use a lot of colour in my writing, even on the PC. If I know I should use a different word or phrase but can’t think of an alternative at the moment, rather than interrupt my flow, I’ll highlight the offending bit in a bright colour, so I’ll spot it quickly when I come back to it later.

Some writers famously have to lay in a supply of sharpened HB pencils or identical gel pens in a certain colour before they can even start writing. And what about the writing paper itself? Lined or unlined? Yellow legal, jumbo scribbling pads or reams of recycled paper filched from work? Notebooks aside – which must be beautiful as well as useful – what’s your preference?


2 thoughts on “Tools of the Trade

  1. Times New Roman 12 pt black is my usual font for manuscripts. It’s a simple, easy-to-read font that, yes, agents and editors prefer. But emails are usually in Comic Sans Serif and in color. 🙂

    But I highlight, too, in the drafts when I’m unsure of a word or know that phrasing is awkward.

    For notes and writing when I’m away from the computer, it’s white lined paper in the notebooks you see in my blog’s header photo and gel pens—of many colors!

  2. I went through a phase of italic writing in green ink with a fountain pen – in retrospect, probably not my best work. Too much attention paid to how it looked, rather than what it said or how it read. But hey, I grew out of it… I much prefer purple these days and it doesn’t need to be actual ink 🙂

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