A writer’s mind and love of language may be among their greatest assets, but in order for words to get written, other tools are required. From taking care of their physical wellbeing, to attending to more atmospheric needs, there are plenty of gadgets and innovations available to help assist the writerly creation.
Some tools for writers might seem unexpected, like virtual assistants that can help correct spelling mistakes on the go. Others can aid with the transition from writing in the cafe to writing at home, or vice versa.
The best thing about each of the tools in the following list is that they help keep any writer focused on what really counts: the words that emerge on the page or screen, and how to make them better. Listed in no particular order, let’s take a look at the top six tools for writers.
Focus On Physical Wellbeing
It’s an old trope that you can tell a writer by the hunched over shoulders and wan expression. But that old trope is a thing of the past. Today, we live in a world that offers much greater access to health-related information.
Rather than suffer the physical consequences of sitting for hours on end in front of the computer each day, simple new innovations allow for increased energy flow and comfort while you work. Aching wrists, a cramped spine, constant back aches, and afternoon fatigue, can be easily prevented.
1. Standing Desk
Studies have shown that one of the best ways to avoid the usual ailments that befall writers is to spend less time sitting during the day. This can easily be accomplished by working at a standing desk. There are a range of options available, from adjustable standing desks that allow you to sit and stand alternately throughout the day, to portable standing desks, so you can even transport your workspace outside.
Standing desks come in a wide variety of materials, sizes, and options, so it is worth doing a bit of research to determine which type would most naturally suit you and your habits. Most standing desks come with two layers, one for your laptop or monitor, and another lower shelf for your keyboard and mouse.
While working as you stand can take some getting used to, you will find that after a few days of typing while standing, your posture is naturally improved, your energy levels are higher, and your circulation is better. Who knows? You may even find your ideas flow more easily too.
2. Ergonomic Wrist Rest
Carpal tunnel is an all too common affliction among writers. When you spend hours a day tapping away at computer keys, you are essentially exposing your wrists to subtle repeated stress and tension, which can easily lead to injuries later down the line.
Taking occasional breaks to rotate and stretch out your wrists is a good start, but one helpful and inexpensive tool to prevent injuries is an ergonomic wrist rest. Allowing your wrists to rest comfortably while you type can go a long way towards preventing lasting damage. Try to find a mouse and mousepad that complement the height of your wrist rest for added support.
3. Kneeling Chair or Wobble Chair
Another avenue towards protecting your posture and preventing writer’s fatigue is to explore alternative seating options. A kneeling chair means you will be kneeling with a support on your front side as the chair ergonomically positions you towards your laptop. Kneeling chairs tilt your pelvis forward while providing support for your shins that will provide much needed release from pressure on your spine and bottom.
A wobble chair, meanwhile, looks like a backless stool. This type of chair features a rotating head that allows you to bounce, turn, and wiggle as you work, thus preventing restlessness or muscle ache from prolonged periods of inactivity. Plus it is a whole lot of fun. Playing around on your wobble chair can help spark the inner fountain of childlike creativity and imagination as you wobble and bounce.
Tools for Your Writerly Atmosphere
The sights, sounds, tastes, and smells around you can all have an impact on your creativity and productivity. While some writers are more sensitive to their atmosphere than others, all of us can benefit from a few small adjustments here and there to help tune the writing atmosphere towards our preferences.
4. A Great Coffee Machine
There are some things most writers can’t live without, and coffee is one of them. But there are endless options to choose from when it comes to great coffee machines and one size definitely does not fit all tastes. If you are one of those writers who relishes the opportunity to take a ten minute coffee break as you let your words settle and new thoughts arise, then a classic Italian moka pot might be the right tool for you. The moka is the original espresso machine designed for the stovetop and it will allow you to pour a perfect espresso every time.
For those writers whose blood basically runs with caffeine, however, you might need something a little heftier in terms of volume and frequency. Invest in a high capacity automatic coffee machine that can brew continuously throughout your day, so you can stay submerged in the writerly flow without ever running out of coffee. You can even program your coffee machine in advance, so that first essential cup to wake up your writer’s brain will be ready and steaming hot as soon as your morning alarm goes off.
5. Adjustable Lighting
Since you may be writing at various times of day and night, make sure you give yourself plenty of lighting options. A desk lamp with a soft but focused beam will allow you to concentrate without straining your eyes too much during the evening and night, while a clear diffused light overhead can help you stay on track and feeling productive throughout the afternoon.
Studies suggest that halogen and fluorescent bulbs are better for prolonged periods of concentration, and for reading. If you are in the reading and re-reading phase of your work, you will be glad for the boost for your eyes.
Similarly, your computer screen emits blue light that is unnecessarily harsh on your eyes and can cause fatigue, eye strain, headaches, and even insomnia. Install an add-on to your laptop or monitor that will automatically dim the lights and transform your screen with a warm orange hue that is much easier on the eyes.
Try a program like Flux, which allows you to program your usual bedtime and the amount of strength you would like the orange to be. The app will automatically calculate how many hours of normal light you will need each day, then softly fade your screen into the warm evening settings as the day goes on.
6. Stretch Break Timers
Moving around your atmosphere is a great way to hit the mental and physical reset button. But it is all too easy as you research, take notes, write, edit, and read, to get lost in time and ignore your natural need to move your body. Try installing a timer on your computer, which will alert you every 20 minutes, or however long you choose to program it, reminding you to take a necessary stretch break.
Even getting up for just one minute to do a quick stretch can have a huge impact on your overall mood, productivity, and physical health. Some stretch break timers can also incorporate different kinds of breaks, reminding you to take a 30 minute lunch break in the middle of the day (and to actually eat something!) or to take a 10 minute rest break later in the afternoon.
To that end, keep a yoga mat, a small set of weights, or a foam roller tucked away in a corner of your work space. If you spend your ten minute break working out the kinks caused by a long stretch of writing, the words are sure to come flowing faster once you return to your desk. Spending several minutes on a short break each day also allows you to process the chapter, section, paragraph, or heading you are currently working on. It’s a great way to create room for new ideas.
Finding the Right Tools for Your Writing Life
No matter what your daily habits and routines look like as a writer, the most important thing is to take into consideration what kind of tools will work for you. Is there a particular issue you are having trouble with or that could use a more elegant solution? Start with that query and research from there. This list is a great starting point, but there are endless tools available for writers of any age, genre, style, focus, and intention.
Set up your space to suit your needs and choose tools to augment that. Find a space near a window that will let natural light in to illuminate your thoughts, or seek out a view that will inspire you. Position your standing desk to allow you to enjoy that view. If you prefer a darker atmosphere, emphasize the lighting options that suit your taste. Take your time to experiment and figure out what your preferences are.
No matter which tools you choose, remember that the most important thing is to get those words on the page. If a great tool for other writers detracts from your writing practice, don’t use it. And if you find another tool that helps you stay focused to craft those words to your best ability, then embrace it. At the end of the day, the best tools are the ones you love to use and know will allow you to work even better all the time.