By our Summer Writer in Residence, Osha Gray Davidson. For information on upcoming events and consultations with Osha, click here.
My writerly resources change from project to project, but there are a few I always have handy. Let’s start with coffee. I do. I favor strong Cuban coffee but anything with caffeine will work. Next, a sense of confidence that what I’m about to write is going to be important – even if it’s only important to me (and sometimes I have to fake that until I make it). Actually, the only resources you need are a) something to write with, b) something to write on, and c) something to write about. Everything else is gravy.
That said, I tend to use a lot of resources, largely because I’m a freelance writer and author of non-fiction. I need to know about people, places, and all sorts of esoteric facts, like: Why are tarantula hawk wasps called that? (You don’t want to know.) Thankfully, there’s the internet, which didn’t exist when I started writing. I also depend on libraries, and, even more specifically, on librarians. They not only help me find what I’m looking for, they frequently help me find what I should have been looking for but didn’t know existed. I can’t stress this too much: Librarians are a writer’s best friend. Treat them well.
I’m guessing that some of you thought I’d list a dictionary as an important resource. Right? Well, okay, it is. But correct spelling is the least of my problems when it comes to writing, which says a lot because I’m an atrocious speller (thank you autocorrect). Pro tip: Spelling and grammar have nothing to do with writing. They have everything to do with editing, however. First write. Then edit. Just remember they are two separate processes and you’ll be fine.
The most important “resource” for writing is reading. Read books or poems or articles that move you, that inspire you, that light your brain on fire, that set off fierce debates in your head by challenging your beliefs, that tell a great story or just make you laugh. See how the writer built a world out of words, populated by people you care about.
To sum up: Read. Write. Read some more. Write some more. Make another cup of coffee or go for a walk. Then, read and write some more.