The Essentials of a Writer’s Bag

Jennifer Lyn King at a Castle in Italy

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
— Stephen King

I love the words of advice of Stephen King, above. As writers, the best way to learn and improve, find our voice and our style, and discover the threads that make our stories sing, is to read and write. A LOT. I think it’s perfect advice. Whether we read classics or contemporaries, memoirs or biographies, fiction or non-fiction, the theory of reading to write well is a sound one. For through the ingesting and intake of written words, we are able to understand and become the written words we are made to write.

Jennifer Lyn King at a Castle in Italy
The reason why I need a writer's bag. Me, at a Castle in Italy

But there is a problem with Mr. King’s advice. I hear the excuse often, from people I meet who want to be writers. “I don’t have the time.”

It is hard to find time. But I think when we love something enough, we make the time.

I like to make the time. It becomes a challenge. With three school-age boys, I have time to write during their school day. But I also try to squeeze time in when I’m waiting on their activities—inevitably my guys play all the sports. Finding time means portability. And that involves The Writer’s Bag.

Do you have a Writer’s Bag?

If you don’t, I encourage you to make one. Following, the Essentials for My Writer’s Bag:

1)      Writing Craft Books: my favorites on standby right now are STORY by Robert McKee, PLOT AND STRUCTURE by J.S. Bell, and WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL by Donald Maass. The books I carry from my writing shelf change depending on what phase of my novel I’m working on.

2)      Reading Book: genre, non-genre—something for pleasure reading. I’m reading THE GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING  by Tracy Chevalier and Madeleine L’Engle’s fantastic WALKING ON WATER.

3)      Computer: your writing companion. And USB drives, for backups.

4)      Pens: one that is inspiring to use, I think.

5)      Most important: the Writer’s Notebook: For the quick notes, and for laying it all out—plot, chapters, motivations, backstory, everything. My writer’s notebook has a durable cover, my preferred spacing of lines, and a movable divider so that I can easily find the page I use most.

Also, since my life is rather unique right now (as an expat in Europe, daily I’m living and observing closehand the things of the movies—the pricey cars, multiple languages, extravagant clothes, people who jet-set vacations to far-off places, bodyguards on comm devices, etc…), I use my notebook often to jot quick notes on things I want to remember.

Don’t you love this writer’s bag? Mine is similar, leather, easy to strap on, and easy to get into.

What sort of things do you include in your writer’s bag? What essentials do you think I’m missing?

Published by Jennifer Lyn Art

About Jennifer Writer Author Photographer Artist Corporate Marketer Happy Wife & Mom World Traveler Grateful.

8 thoughts on “The Essentials of a Writer’s Bag

  1. Hi Jennifer,

    What a nice little coincidence — I wrote a post yesterday about creating The Writers’ Bucket List that ties in beautifully with your post here, I think. Funny thing was, I heard about your post through a standing Google Alert I have for “I need a writer”… it led me to this post on Red Room. The universe has been sending me some quirky coincidences lately.

    Anyway, I love the idea of “A Writer’s Bag” — and not just its contents. That leather satchel you link to is just perfect. Do you mind if I add it to the Bucket List? Or perhaps you’d like to do that yourself — you can find the post at the address I entered in the “Website” text box.

    To add to your list: most writers I know have some sort of toy or whimsical object on their desks that they use for inspiration or just for fun. (Mine is a die-cast model of a Jaguar XKE coupe on a book shelf, though at one point I had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle…) Perhaps if you had something small enough, that could be included in the Writer’s Bag too?


    1. Hi Graham,

      I’m glad you stopped by and dropped the link to your blog– It’s great! I’ve added my ideas for your Bucket List there, but also, feel free to tie this to your post.

      I like the idea of a small object for inspiration. I think my best inspiration comes from photos, which I have loaded by the gig on my hard drive. But I think many writers have something tactile that reminds them to press on. Great idea.

      Good luck with your novel!


  2. Hi Jennifer, I’m not actively writing anything now. It sounds like a great plan to make a writers bag. For motivation and connection to story ideas I think Photos, Images, Pictures would be a good start point for me. Example: If I want to write a story about my Doxies, I will go to my computer photos of all my Doxies and other related images and move a bunch into a folder. Visuals, at least for me would probably get my thoughts going and I could jot down random notes as I went along.
    I have the time to write, I just have not done it. As you say, it takes priority.

    Take Care, Karen

    1. Thanks, Karen, for saying hi!

      Images are definitely helpful, for inspiration. Good choice! Also, you’re right, writing does take time and the decision to make it a priority. Always, the hardest part of writing a novel is the blank page. The only way to beat that is to sit down and start.

      Write on!


  3. For journalists, a microcassette recorder, two batteries, a
    couple of microcassettes, a copy of a magazine issue, a draft of a work-in-progress article, a nonfiction reference guide and (2) pencils.
    For a short story writer, replace the article with a story draft, replace the nonfiction reference with a fiction guidebook, include a dictionary or thesaurus, and a grammar
    For in general, I would include post-its or a canary pad of paper for quick notes, (2) pens, and the netbook or IPad.

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