Welcome to Our Write Mind. I hope you will explore the various pages. I would love to hear from you and am curious about what you would like to see discussed or what you would find helpful to you as a writer. My goal is to have new material available weekly. My best wishes to you as we explore the writing profession. Dara

Friday, March 9, 2007

Writing Necessities - The Computer

The computer is a writing necessity. We need to acquire one specifically for writing as soon as possible. The majority of our potential markets expect us to be able to submit material electronically, either on a CD or via e-mail. Editors and publishers also expect to communicate with us by e-mail, and expect writers to be able to review their guidelines on the web. If a writer is serious about a freelancing writing business having his or her own computer is essential.

Did you notice I said, “own computer.” Most households have a home computer, usually shared by all family members. If your home is as mine was, then you may find your writing time plays second fiddle to homework, games, paying bills, downloading music, reading blogs and general surfing. I found it was difficult enough to find time to write without having to compete with my husband and children for computer time as well.

A writing computer should be a first priority, if you don't have your own computer. It will be your most important business investment. It doesn't have to be an expensive model with all of the bells and whistles to start. You can purchase a basic model that includes a printer, modem, screen, and all the software you'll need to start writing for around $500 or less now. You may be able to get good deals on used computers. Many computer outlets sell reconditioned computers. You can also find computers and laptops online along with used hardware and software. There are legitimate dealers, but also plenty of scammers. In any case, shop around, compare, and know what you are buying. Buyer beware!

I recommend your computer be equipped with Microsoft Word; this is the most commonly used program by publishers. Word documents can be produced by both PCs (Windows) and Macs (Macintosh), so use whichever platform you're most comfortable with. Most Macs today produce PC disks, so you don't have to worry about publications with incompatible systems.
Many writers, don't have space for a full size PC, and buy laptops. Current laptops now have the same capabilities, or more than some older PCs. Most have as much power and memory as a PC, with the added portability advantage.

I also recommend getting a separate keyboard and mouse. I find a full-size keyboard much more comfortable and ergonomic than a laptop keyboard particular on my long writing session. I also recommend getting a large full-size flat screen when you can afford it. The flat screen takes up so much less desk space than my old screen.

Most new computer systems come bundled with an inkjet printer. Depending your system some are good, some just mediocre. If you are not happy with your printer, consider investing in another one, saving the current one for a back up or selling it to upgrade to a better quality model. You can find high quality inkjet printers for less than $150. Watch for sales and get the bonus of rebates.

One tip: In most cases, it will cost more to repair a printer than by a new one. I have been through three printers in the last seven years. I eventually upgraded to an all-in-one printer/copier/scanner/and Fax machine for around $350 after rebates. This saves me time and money not having to pay for copies, scans, and faxs. I get fast, near laser quality printing, plus the option of lesser quality draft printing copies, which saves ink, and money in the long run.

Most of us feel we can't justify the expense of a new computer until we’re earning money from our writing. Businesses do require certain start-up expenses, writing is our business. Know your own computer is the best start-up investment a writer can make; it will also be tax-deductible, which family computers are not.

Get one as soon as you can. You are already creative, so get busy and think of ways to raise the funds to buy your first big investment. Have a garage or yard sale when you clean out the extra room you will be using as your office. Have marathon writing sessions and sell 20 articles instead of 10 each month for a couple of months; at $10 an article, there’s $200 you didn’t think you had.

Still in our write mind,