5 Things All Writers Should Have

Author Bryan Fagan writes about his must-haves as a writer, and gives advice about making the most of your creativity as a writer.


The other day I received a message from Isabella. A new assignment was coming my way – 5 Things All Writers Should Have. Below the message she added:

I have given you ZERO guidance… I want to see what you come up with!

I let it kick around in my head before I dived in. Sort of like fine wine where the trick is to let it breathe. When the dust settled I read the title again – 5 Things All Writers Should Have.

I concentrated on the word ALL. Something was off and I knew if it couldn’t be straightened I would have to pass. So I took a little break. Ate some comfort food and watched a comfort movie. Back to the Future, in case you’re curious. 

Finally it came to me. The world ALL was wrong. Everyone is different. How can I say ALL when I only know a few? So I asked a different question: What Are the 5 Things I Should Have?

Much better. Now I can write this thing.

A Pen

I write long hand. I wish I didn’t but it’s the only way this brain of mine works. The pen has to be perfect. It has to feel fantastic between my fingers. When I lay it on the paper, the words must flow like magic. A few months ago I was on a trip and forgot my pens. I figured it wasn’t a big deal so instead of buying more I borrowed one instead. Bad idea.

The pen I always use has a nice rubber hold between my thumb and index finger. The borrowed one was cheap plastic and slippery. My pen is bold black ink giving every letter a brilliant shine. The borrowed was a dull blue. Faded and boring. After ten minutes or so I gave up and found my pens at a nearby store. A valuable lesson was learned that day: Do Not Forget the Damn Pens!!!

I have dozens of pens around the house and half of them are lost. I have come to the conclusion there is a pen wormhole gobbling up my precious pens and sending them to 4th Century England. Regardless of all-things wormhole, without my favorite pen this writing gig would be a lot harder than it already is.


At last count I have about a million notebooks scattered around the house. Sadly, unlike my pens, my notebooks are not lost. At the same time, my notebooks are as valuable as my pens. Priceless, if I’m forced to use a single word. My notebooks are home to my rambling mess, my mistakes and non-mistakes. They are my roadmap to the fish line where my work needs to be. Everyday I trip over a dozen of them but I don’t mind. They are worth the fall. Even if you don’t write your entire novel in a notebook, they are still handy to have for making notes on the side, sudden ideas, or even sketches.

A Writing Place

There was a time, long ago, when I was convinced every writer was the same. We sat behind a desk staring at a computer. The mouse to the right, faded four-corner walls and a small window straight ahead. It was a great idea but not a damn thing was written. It didn’t take long to understand that my writing career was as good as dead if this continued. But somewhere along the way my kitchen table became my writing place. I have no idea why or how, but three novels later I can’t complain.

The kitchen table gives me energy, motivation and creativity all of which leads to writing books. I have no clue why this works but I’ve learned not to ask. The kitchen table is my disco and I am lucky to have it.


Creativity is a scary thing. We are displaying our true selves. The big reveal of who we really are. A fictional memoir. Creativity is standing naked on a busy street corner displaying to the world our hidden selves. And that takes confidence.

When I watched Back to the Future, Marty discovers his dad likes to write but lacks confidence. No one could read his stories, but at the end of the movie his dad was full of confidence and a published author.

Confidence allows me to listen, especially when I’m in my writer’s group. I listen to what works and needs work. I listen to my editor when she gives me high marks on chapter 30 but reminds me Chapter 36 fell flat. Confidence is gold running through my veins, replacing my fear with courage. 


Someone once told me writing is homework. They could not understand how anyone could do what I do and wondered why. I explained to them the answer is simple: Enthusiasm. When I sit down to write I’m a little boy all over again. I’m playing in the mud with my trucks or jumping in puddles wearing my favorite yellow rain jacket. Without enthusiasm, writing is homework and where is the fun in that?

So there you have it. The 5 things I should own if I wish to continue this writing thingy. Yes, Isabella, thingy is a real word. No need to look it up. Why are you looking it up??? 

If I’m not in possession of these five things, I’m not doing what I need to do but somehow along the way I found them and I can’t believe my luck. 

And now it’s your turn. Think about all of the things you need to own to write. Make the longest list you can and chop it down to five. It can be something you hold in your hand or something deep inside. Those five things are unique. They are you, and they are the reason you are a writer.

4 thoughts on “5 Things All Writers Should Have”

  1. One of my five things is something else creative to do when I hit a roadblock. In my case I spin fiber into yarn. It’s peaceful and relaxes my brain until it finds a way through the impediments.

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