What Every Writer Must Have - A Freelance Writer's Best Gadgets and Tools
I am not a techie person, that should be established right away. Many times, I shy away from gadgets and though mobile phones change models almost weekly in the Philippines, I tend to hold on to mine for years and years, until the keypad wears off. My last mobile phone (Motorola Razr) had to be replaced because its LCD broke and there was one big splat of black in the monitor, I can barely read the messages coming in, as well as the ID caller. I knew I had to replace it when I started sending gibberish SMS to my friends – and even to my boss! That was the clincher - I bought another one very much similar to it, mainly because I was already familiar with the controls and the features, and I didn’t want to be bothered learning the intricacies of a new mobile phone. I was happy with my old phone, so why not get one just like it, right? The only difference was that the Motorola Razr V9 has a model in red, so that’s what I got.
One feature I like about the mobile phones is the web-browsing capabilities. It comes very handy when I am in remote places and I have to access my mails. As a freelance writer, online presence is very important, and I have corresponded with buyers through my Motorola phones while spelunking.
But since I ventured into freelance writing (about a year ago), I have amassed several tools and gadgets, all necessary tools of the trade. Here are my favorite gadgets, ones I cannot do without in freelance writing.
The best part of it is that if you persevere enough, and continue to
improve your writing skills, these gadgets and toys will pay for
themselves. So think of them as a wise investment.
1. Mini laptop
Okay, it doesn’t have to be a mini laptop, it can just be an ordinary laptop. But mini laptops or mini notebooks are so much more handy than a bulky one. Mine is an HP Mini Notebook Vivienne Tam Limited Edition which fits perfectly in any of my average-sized purses. Great for travelling, and even for just the ordinary to and fro. This HP Mini Notebook 1111 TU also comes in its original color, black with the lovely swirls (in fact I had one, but sold it), but having one in red and with flowers printed on it sends out happy thoughts whenever when I am at the keyboard. Very, very healthy for my writing mind, and it may be purely psychological, but I feel more alive typing at the blood-red keys than the black keys. I figured, the mini notebook will be my one constant companion for all my writing gigs so I better get the one I really want.
Dubbed as a netbook, this mini notebook is built for the web, with its own built-in Bluetooth, camera, microphone and wi-fi capabilities. The best thing about it is that its keyboard is almost as large as an ordinary laptop’s – 92% of the size. Do I sound like I like my Tammy? You bet I do!
2. Cooling Pad
A cooling pad serves as both a ventilation system and an elevator for my Tammy. Whenever I am at my desk, or when I will be travelling for a considerable length of time and I make my temporary workdesk wherever I am, my cooling pad is a necessary appurtenance to my mini notebook. Mine is a usb-operated so there is no need for another power outlet.
3. Internet connection
Of course, the very backbone of my online business is my connectivity to the world. Aside from the internet connection, a wireless router is very important, because it lets me work anywhere in the house while still online. Sometimes it’s nice to browse through the web while watching television, or while watching the kids play.
4. Mobile internet kit (Smartbro)
While internet connections and wi-fi zones are a dime a dozen here in the Philippines, there are still times when you have no connection, such as when you are up in the mountains or in a remote island. More than its actual internet capabilities, a mobile internet kit serves as a security blanket for a freelance writer like me. It gives me confidence that I will be able to access the internet wherever I am, whenever I need to. I have tried a lot of brands in the Philippines, and the one I most prefer is the Smartbro. Again, it is very handy, works when you plug it into the usb port, and is prepaid.
5. Portable hard drive and flash drives
I store all my big files in my portable hard drive (see all the high resolution images I use in my other hubs) such as photos, music and videos. I don’t need them a lot of times so I don’t need to bog down my mini notebook with these large files. Portable hard drives are now getting much improved, with higher capacities on smaller forms. I can’t wait for a 320gig hard drive to come in a stick.
Flash drives, on the other hand, are for backups. It’s always a good practice to backup your files, whether it’s a word file, or a business presentation. I keep all my freelance writing files in one folder with many subfolders so it’s easy for me to update my backup files. Now if only I can remember to do it regularly.
6. Must have softwares – licensed anti-virus program, Blogjet
An anti-virus program is a must, considering the exposure we all have from using the internet to using flash drives everyday. While downloaded programs are a dime a dozen, a licensed anti-virus program still has its many advantages over its free contemporaries. Updates, for one, are very critical, because there is a new bug born every day (I can imagine).
Blogjet is a program that lets you update your blogs without having to go to the site itself. This is very handy for me, since many of my jobs require upkeep of my client’s blogsites. There may be other blogging softwares around, but I have gotten used to the friendly interface of Blogjet.
A cross between a mini laptop and a mobile phone, the iTouch is a great gadget to have. You can browse the web, reply to mails, even participate in the forums with this little smart gadget! Of course it can play music, audiobooks, videos and games. You can update your facebook and twitter status anytime, too. And with the proper applications, you can even compose notes (as if on a notepad) and sent it right away to your email. It is also a very effective way to isolate yourself from your present environment, whether for effect (you don’t want to be disturbed) or for setting the mood (you want to accomplish something, say, write a hub).
A necessary accessory will be a direct charger, since it might require charging everyday if you use it a lot. You can always opt to charge it with your laptop but a direct charger is much more convenient.
8. A complete workstation (table, chair, power outlets, table lamp)
This is very necessary, at least for me. The mind is a highly programmable thing, and it will easily associate writing and productivity with certain places. The table and the chair should be most comfortable, and the power outlets should be very near. Necessary when you want to be wired – charging the laptop, itouch, cellular phone. I work during late nights, when my family is asleep, and there’s no use turning the room light on.
9. Pen and notebook
Now these two I never leave home without. This is where I put down my thoughts, when I am away from the computer. It is also necessary for keeping tabs of your contracts with your clients, which ones are paid, and which ones are not. It also contains contact information of my buyers, so I don’t have to go through my mails all the time. Most importantly, it keeps a record of the usernames and passwords I use. I am very bad at remembering things, so this is very handy.
10. My favorite coffee shop
Okay, so this is technically not a gadget or a tool, but it is still necessary. For me, coffee and writing go very well together. Perhaps another addition to this list is a favorite coffee mug, or coffee tumbler, but that wouldn’t be a tool or gadget either - but it still increases my productivity.