Posted On March 9, 2015 by Print This Post

6 Writing Supplies for Success

Kelsey Browning, one of RU’s founders, is back with her secret formula for success. Are you taking notes??

When I first began writing seriously, I was dying to know how to do it “right.” The right way to create a character, the right way to plan out a story, the right way to handle point of view. And, yes, I can hear you laughing uproariously out there. But as a self-professed office supply whore, I really wanted to know all the stuff that would magically make me a real writer. You know, the books, computer software, and cool crap from Office Depot that would make me a success.

Stop. Laughing.

After over 8 years of writing stories and seriously pursuing publication, I’ve whittled back to only a few necessary items (but please don’t tell my husband I can live without the other stuff because I still love to shop for office supplies!).

  1. Markers and big paper – I buy large children’s sketch pads and rolls of paper from Ikea so I can use them to brainstorm, make huge mind maps, and plot. My plotting pals—Adrienne Giordano and Tracey Devlyn—and I go through newspaper print like wild women when we spend several days plotting together. The great thing about using colorful markers and cheap paper—it helps free my creativity and I don’t censor myself! (Ends of newspaper rolls also work well, but they are HEAVY!)
  2. Scrivener – Most of you are probably familiar with this computer program built specifically for writers. It’s available for both Mac and PC (although I believe the Mac version is still slightly more advanced). Probably the best $45 I’ve ever spent. I won’t go into all Scrivener’s virtues here, but I’m a huge fan of the features that allow for importing research directly into your writing file, moving scenes around, and tracking metadata.
  3. Binders – Although I keep much of the information for the book I’m writing in Scrivener, I still use paper. I’ve tried file folders, plastic pockets, and all sorts of stuff for organizing a writing project. I’ve settled on using a ½” binder to organize the paper notes for my books. This size binder is big enough to keep any of my handwritten notes without becoming heavy and cumbersome. (Oh, and you can buy a pack of 8 – ½” binders at Sam’s Club for around $10!)
  4. Spirals – I buy them in bulk during the back to school sales, usually paying anywhere from 10-25¢ a piece. I use these for jotting down my thoughts and notes, but even more important, these spirals are where I religiously write my Morning Pages (If you haven’t read Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way, get yourself a copy. Now. Go on, I’ll wait while you pop out and one-click it. This book saved my writing life!).
  5. Energel pens – I buy black for notes and purple for editing. These pens write smoothly and I can order cartridge refills for them. Super important because I go through ink like…well…poop through a goose.
  6. My portable “desk” – Because I’m short, I’ve had some real challenges sitting at a normal desk for hours on end. So I recently purchased a laptop stand on wheels. Actually, this one is made by a medical supply place. I love it because it’s on wheels, is multi-adjustable, has a separate mouse tray, and has a large main surface that will accommodate both my laptop and a stack of paper, binder, or spiral.

So yes, I still love to have stacks of Post-it notes, paper clips, and tons of other writerly stuff around. But give me the six items above, my laptop, and a printer, and I can write you a story!

So tell me, what supply tops your need-in-order-to-write list?

Join us on Wednesday when Sherrie Hansen discusses, “Five, Four, Three, Two, One… Time’s Up! Hands in the Air!”


(Note – there are affiliate links in this post. If you click on a link and subsequently buy something, I will make about 3¢. 🙂 )

Kelsey Small

Kelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories and co-authors Southern cozy mysteries. She’s also a co-founder of Romance University blog, one of Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, Bad Dog and Pharaoh, a (fingers crossed) future therapy dog. She’s currently at work on a new book in The Granny Series, a new novella series and a new contemporary romance series. Stop by and visit her at

Get Lucky
Get Lucky – 6 brand-new, sexy novellas with an Irish Twist – 99¢ for a limited time. Stories by USA Today bestseller Nicola Marsh, Kelsey Browning, Robin Covington, Avery Flynn, Sara Humphreys, and Kimberly Kinkaid. Kelsey’s novella in this boxes set is Amazed by You.
As a mere assistant to a bestselling author, Olivia McLaughlin has yet to live up to the Most Likely To Succeed label given to her in high school. But now, this small-town Texas girl has a chance to prove herself by pulling off an extravagant St. Patrick’s Day garden party in Houston. If she succeeds, she’ll be promoted to business manager for her boss’s multi-million dollar publishing empire. Unfortunately, Olivia only has seven days to organize the event, and the garden looks like the set from a horror movie.

And worse, the sexy landscape designer her boss hires to help is none other than Cody Kavanaugh, Olivia’s high school boyfriend. The one she ran out on the day after graduation. But her hormones don’t realize it’s been years, and they light up as if those steamy teenage sessions in Cody’s truck were yesterday. From the way he’s looking at her, it’s obvious Cody feels the same. But physical is all they can indulge in because Olivia is an ambitious, big-city career girl while Cody is still a laid-back, small-town guy.

Now, Olivia must decide which she can’t live without—the job that will make her a success or the man offering her a second chance at love.

Available on Amazon, Kobo and iBooks.

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23 Responses to “6 Writing Supplies for Success”

  1. Television tuned to music videos or news channels. No idea why but it focuses me.

    Posted by Mary Fahey | March 9, 2015, 8:29 am
  2. I love music in the background. I recently bought a display board to pin notes on for setting and secondary characters.
    I’m also going to put my story theme on it to, hopefully, stick to the theme. We’ll see if it works.
    (Office Depot is one of my favorite stores. I’m probably their best customer on Sundays after church.)

    Posted by Jackie Layton | March 9, 2015, 9:32 am
  3. You mentioned Scrivener, but that company has a new program I love called Scapple. It’s for plotting/planning purposes and becomes a digital white wall. Great for someone like me who doesn’t have wall space necessary to plot on large rolls of paper with markers.

    Posted by Susan | March 9, 2015, 10:30 am
  4. I keep most of my notes in files on my computer, but I do keep little notebooks and a ton of post-it notes handy to jot down ideas.

    Kelsey – What jumped out at me from this post was #6, not because of the desk but because you mention being short! I always pictured you being tall! 🙂

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | March 9, 2015, 11:50 am
  5. Evening Kelsey!

    I like peace and quiet when writing…total opposite of so many others! If I had music on or the tv on or tried to write in a Starbucks? It wouldn’t happen.

    But I do have to have chocolate, just little M&M’s or something and I buy tons of little notebooks – even though I usually end up writing ideas on random pieces of scrap paper. =)

    Great seeing you here!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | March 9, 2015, 7:20 pm
  6. Aeon Timeline is a great tool that you can sync with the Mac version of Scrivener. It helps keep all of your dates and characters straight, especially if you have a series.

    Posted by Teresa Walker | March 9, 2015, 7:49 pm
  7. Hi Kelsey!

    Binder clips. Whenever I read an article on-line that I can use in a story, I print it off. I have so many that they don’t fit in folders, so I use giant binder clips. My iPhone has replaced the notepad I used to carry in my purse. Very handy to tap notes into the phone because they go directly to my Mac.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | March 9, 2015, 10:33 pm
    • Jennifer –

      Oh, yes – I should’ve put binder clips on my list too because I can’t live without them! I use them primarily to hold MS pages when I’m doing revisions and edits.

      I’ve also found the voice recorder on my iPhone to be very handy. But I still find it kinda painful to type on it :-).


      Posted by Kelsey Browning | March 10, 2015, 8:31 am
  8. I love office supplies. I freely and happily admit I’m addicted. I love the old BIC pens, you know the ones with the clear body, wooden Dixon Ticonderoga pencils, highlighters to mark almost anything. I take notes in old-fashioned composition books. I like them better than spiral notebooks because they stay intact no matter how hard or how long I use them. The spiral ones were always coming apart. When I get really stuck, I go somewhere relaxing and write in my comp book until I’m no longer stuck. It’s worked every time.

    I too, love Scrivener. I saw some other commenters recommending Scapple. I’m going to check that out for sure.

    Thanks for this fun article. It’s fun to see what addictions other writers have. I plan on stealing a few to add to my own craziness. 🙂

    Posted by Jillian Pearl | March 10, 2015, 9:43 am
  9. Thanks so much for hanging out with us, Kelsey! The post – and all these comments – were really fun!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | March 11, 2015, 12:46 am


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