Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Equipping Freelance Writers

Equipping Freelance Writers
by Debbie Roome

Apart from the obvious pen and paper, there are basic items and equipment that can make the life of a freelance writer (FLW) much easier. Some of these are indispensable while others are nice-to-have extras. Start off with the essentials and add to your collection as you progress.

Office Space
In general, FLW work from home. It is important to have an official office area where you can work in peace and your papers won’t be moved around and interfered with. The ideal situation is a spare room or study with a desk, shelves and filing cabinet but many writers make do with a desk in the corner of a bedroom or a table in the kitchen.

Make sure you have all the basic requirements for an office. Include things such as a stapler, punch, scissors, pens, pencils, glue, sticky tape, erasers and of course, paper. Keep these in a cupboard or easily accessible place.

A FLW needs to be in touch with the world and this connection is often through the telephone. Look for features that will work with the type of writing you do. If you conduct interviews over the phone, a speakerphone will make life much easier. If you do a lot of faxing, buy a fax-phone combo. If you move around the house while talking, invest in a cordless phone. One with a built-in answering system is vital if you receive a lot of incoming calls. When out and about, make sure your mobile phone is always switched on and charged up.

These are very useful if you do a lot of interviewing. You can buy the handheld ones quite cheaply – either digital or with a small cassette tape inside. Make sure you ask permission to use them as not everyone likes being taped.

These days, a computer is probably the most essential tool that a writer has access to. The ideal situation is to have a desk top and a lap top and keep all information backed up on both machines. Make sure you keep your documents in logical, easy to find folders.

Internet Connection
A FLW can’t go wrong with a fast broadband connection. A huge amount of work is sourced and conducted over the internet and slow speeds can become a real hindrance. Look for a connection that gives a good speed as well as offering a reasonable cap.

Work processed on your computer may eventually need to be printed. With a small home office, a good idea is to invest in a printer/scanner/copier combo. This saves space and money and all the features come in very handy.

Photography and writing often end up as partners. A good quality photo can add the final touches to a well written article or story and will add to its value. A digital camera with at least 3.2 megapixels and an optical zoom will suffice for basic journalistic and internet work.

Prospective writers often have a lot of this equipment at home and it’s just a case of getting organized and setting it up into a home office. It really does make a difference to have a dedicated work space so make it your goal this week to arrange your space or if you have one already, improve it.

Next week, we’ll look at the 4 W’s of writing.

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Current projects include a contract for writing devotionals, contributions to the local paper, editing and production of a community newsletter and compilation of her church’s year book. Read some of her work at Suite 101 and Faithwriters.

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