Resources Writers Love by Steph Beth Nickel

Since we emphasize love each February, why not think about the resources we writers are particularly fond of?

A New Journal

A beautiful handcrafted leather cover or a whimsical cartoon character beckoning you to open a pristine new journal, full of nothing but potential … is there anything more inspiring—or terrifying? Tentatively, you grab your favourite pen (see below) and make that first mark on the page. And then you’re off to the races, sometimes writing at lightning speed, sometimes pausing and wondering if you’ll ever again write a coherent sentence. I have a love-hate relationship with my journals. Most often I assign a specific subject to each journal—and then end up using them as scrap paper because they’re at hand. I’m sure I’d be surprised at what I’d find if I took the time to read through old (and not-so-old) journals.

A Favourite Pen

For those of us who still like to write longhand—at least some of the time—we probably have our favourite type of pen. Some of us like fountain pens and are always on the lookout for the one that writes “just so.” For others it’s a classic like a Parker. (You can still get nice pen sets in stores such as Staples.) Personally, I’m a huge fan of Zebra Sarasa gel pens. They’re not extravagant. They don’t cost very much. But they write beautifully. I haven’t found another gel pen I like anywhere near as much. And they come in a wide variety of colours, which appeals to my artistic self.

The Internet

Can you even begin to image where we’d be without the Internet? I know I’d be lost without it. I use Bible Gateway to look up scripture verses. I use Pixabay to find images to create memes, to add visuals to my blog posts, and to create graphics for our midweek kids’ club. I use PicMonkey to add text to my photos and those I find on Pixabay. And of course I connect with clients and fellows creatives via email and social networks. I also take online courses to improve my writing skills. And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

The Library

Even though I love the Internet, I’m a huge fan of paying regular visits to the library. While I have hundreds of eBooks, I prefer physical books. And my favourite of all are hardbacks wrapped in plastic. I love the feel and the crinkling sound. Library books probably take me back to happy memories of childhood. Books and libraries have been my friends from way back. Do you pay regular visits to the local library?

A Crowded Coffee Shop

Granted, this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. (I couldn’t resist the pun. Admittedly, I didn’t try very hard.) At any rate, there is an exhilaration about taking your laptop or your notebook to a local coffee shop and writing. It’s almost cliché, but it’s one that’s likely going to be around for a long time. (As an extrovert, I love the idea, but I’m too easily distracted to make serious headway on a writing project when I’m surrounded by the sights and sounds—not to mention smells and tastes—that await me at Starbucks or Coffee Culture.)

A Smartphone

An app such as Evernote

Though I no longer have a smartphone, I did write my first guest post for Kimberley Payne on my phone when I had one. (Mind you, I think I would invest in a tablet before buying another smartphone.) For those of you who use an app such as Evernote, what do you like best about it?

A camera

I had a discussion with my nephew this past Christmas about the likelihood that phones with attachable lenses will replace DSLRs in the future. While I can’t see that happening (I love my Canon EOS), cameras on cell phones are getting better and are certainly good enough to snap a shot of that inspiring scene you want to write about.

Books, Books, Books, and More Books

Of course this goes without saying, but what list of writers’ resources would be complete without it? Author Susan Meissner says something interesting. She suggests reading more well-written books than skills development books. Rather than learning from how-to books, she believes we can pick up much that will make our own writing better (when applied) simply by reading authors who know how to apply those skills. What do you think?

Writing Courses

There are so many great online courses floating around cyberspace. I definitely don’t have time to take even a fraction of those that interest me. Taking a course may be something to consider doing annually, even a couple of times per year. Have you found any courses that were well worth the time and financial investment?

Critique Partners / Beta Readers

We all know that it can be unnerving to send our writing out into the world, but if we have a handful of trusted readers who will tell us what works—and what doesn’t—we can polish our blog, article, or manuscript before sending it off to potential publishers and / or agents. Finding critique partners we can count on is a tremendous blessing.

What resources do you especially love?


2015 Headshot (XS)Steph Beth Nickel
is the coauthor of Paralympian Deborah L. Willows’ memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances, published by Castle Quay Books. To their delight, LBMC won in the Life Stories category of The Word Awards 2015. Among other things, Steph is a freelance writer and editor. You can connect with her at stephbethnickel@gmail.com … on her Facebook author page … or on Twitter (Photo Credit: Stephen Woo)

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2 comments

  1. Pam Mytroen says:

    Hi Steph, oh I loved reading your piece! Like you, I love a good pen. Pentel is my favourite but I made a note of your Zebra Sarasa gel pens and will check for them. I also love the library and lately I’ve been checking out lots of audio books for all the travelling I’m doing, and loving and looking forward to every trip now. I really appreciate what you said from Susan Meissner- what good advice! As far as writing courses, Writing for Children from the Institute of Children’s Literature was stellar, and helped me get started in writing for all ages, and in all genres. It’s a good basic course with real feedback from a real tutor. Anyways, I’d better get busy writing my blog. You’ve inspired me!

    1. Steph Nickel says:

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment, Pam. Thanks, too, for sharing some of your favourites. 🙂

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