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About the Writer:

Bennet Pomerantz is a media review columnist in 175 newspapers with his weekly column AUDIOWORLD. His fiction and reviews have appeared in the pages of Affaire De Coeur, Gateways, Mystery Scene, Power Star, The Hot Corner, Washington Entertainment Magazine, and many others. He is also known for his review appearances on the MCN Forum. View his web site at Audioworld.


A Piece of My Mind
The Writer's Toolkit
Bennet Pomerantz

Half my lifetime I have earned my living by selling words, and I hope thoughts - Winston Churchill

When I stop working on whatever project I am doing, which is usually about three a.m., I surf the television for something to watch to ease me into rest. At that time of the morning, the TV is full of Infomercials. Those nasty thirty minute ad programs that sell everything from Seal-a-Meals and Ronco "Set it and Forget it" grills to a Jack La Lannne juicer and a toothbrush steamer.

One Sunday, a friend and I watched an infomercial with Richard Karn (Al from Home Improvement, now the host of Family Feud) selling an "Internet Toolkit." This toolkit would be all you need to help you start your own Internet business with limited start up cost. He and I laughed as we both had the same idea simultaneously, "Why isn't there a Writer's Toolkit for beginning writers?" Giving this idea some thought, here is a basic idea of a tool kit any writer can use.  If you want to give a new writer a kit, you can assemble this as a birthday or holiday gift.

Noted author Jeffrey Archer (Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less) once said "All a writer needs to begin are a pad and the willingness to write" I agree with that thought. You don't need a computer with the latest writer's program to write, nor do you need every writer's magazine on the newsstand . . . Since you are reading this on a computer, you are a step ahead for this "kit."

To agree with Archer, I suggest starting with a notebook or a legal pad. Some best-selling authors started that way. Jackie Collins writes her books on a legal pad before her assistants type them up. In an interview, Stephen King said that he wrote some of The Green Mile at a Baseball game in long hand. I start any of my columns in long hand with ideas all along the page, before I finally type up the words on my laptop. The best thing I suggest, is start with a spiral note book.  It's easy to tear out pages, I say this from first hand knowledge.

It does not matter what kind of writing instrument you use. It can be a pen, a pencil, a marker or even a crayon. I remember a new writer in an audience at a writer's workshop once said " I cannot write unless I have a fine point pen."  I looked at this person as if he were from another planet and said, "What if a fine point pen isn't available?". He shot me a glare back, "I don't think I could write anything."  I think that is ridiculous!

Another item to fill this toolkit is a desk calendar. A calendar is a very useful tool. It keeps track of deadlines. You can jot ideas for further review. You can budget your time, appointments and goals. The amazing thing called a real life can be scheduled in here as well.

The next Items are books I suggest any writer get and keep at his or her desk or in their personal library. I do not suggest any special Writing or Freelancing for Dummies books. Nor Am I suggesting Stephen King's On Writing or AS You Write, They are not important as these basic volumes.

A dictionary, in my opinion is the best book you will ever need. It does not matter if it is the Oxford unabridged, the current Webster's or the simple cheap dollar store volume. I go back to my dictionary often to find the right spelling of a word.

A thesaurus is a godsend for any writer. Again It does not matter what choice or what company publishes the thesaurus you buy. It is a guide to help you find those words that will make your writing flow better.

A style book, I suggest AP or UPI's. This book is for anyone, but especially for Journalists to find the right way to use a word. So is it Washington D.C. or Washington DC?  Look in your style book for the proper form.

A book of quotations.  I find a book of quotes gives any piece a lead-in that will make an audience read you. It sets the tone for any piece.

A writer's marketplace guide . . . you can find one on line, but I keep a volume with a listing of magazines, newspapers and newsletters where I can send my work out. Note, you don't need the current one, but any good writer would check if the magazine was still in business before submitting.

If you write fiction of any sort, you may laugh at my next selection . . . a book of baby names. OKAY, have you stopped laughing yet? I suggest this because when you are naming a character of any sort, you want to put the best name on him or her. It would make your piece flow better if the character has a name that you think suits him or her. I will be doing a column soon on the wonders of a name . . . look for it!

NOW, for the special extras (You know those things you don't really need, but you get anyway!)...If you are using that notebook as I suggested initially, and you are like me who tends to travel a lot or writes in my easy chair, you may want a lap desk or a clip board. You can write almost any way, I believe me, I have!

If you happen to like writing at a desk, and not a lap desk, you may want a family picture around you. This picture will remind you who and what you are writing for and why!

I know this is a guilty pleasure, but I find it useful . . . A time wasting device. When you hit that dreaded writer's block and believe me, it does happen, these toys may relax you, so you can get back to work! The device can be a small bean bag doll of Buzz Lightyear that you throw against the wall (and I have often!), a Rubik's cube, a Slinky, a small draw poker game, a yo-yo, a Nerf basketball & hoop, or an autographed picture of me which you can throw darts at!

Well there are special other things you can add, but you have a basic idea for your own writer's tool kit.

REPEAT ANOUNCEMENT--Now, for something completely different (I always wanted to say that and I said it again this month!), I am working on a future column titled "When can you consider yourself a writer" and I want your feedback on this subject. E-mail me your comments, anecdotes, life experience, etc. (with the word WRITER in the subject line of your E-mail) to my email address [email protected] . . . Lets be upfront, I will not use all the feedback, comments, etc. that I receive. However, those who do write me and I do use in whole or in part, will be credited by name in the column . . . PLEASE NO ATTACHMENTS!

PS. Those who have sent me their e-mails last month, unless its a new idea (which is welcome), I already have it (THANK YOU!), so you do not need to send it again!

Well 'til next we meet, keep your head level and reach for the stars!

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