|Right tools for the job
Being a fella, running a workshop, I've got a passion for tools. I recommend what's below as essential for any writer, experienced or just emerging.
Start with the pens
I hesitate to suggest what to put in your hands. But I've been using one pen for so long that on receipt of your deposit, we give every new Workshop writer one of my favorites: The Core Rotring rollerball. (A $15 value, you betcha.) It writes fast, important when your hand is trying to keep up with your brain. Its refills come in two widths. Best of all, it feels good in the hand, with its rubber grip and contoured styling. It can be hard to find, since Rotring discontinued the line. I look for all my pens at pencity.com
For ultra-portable pen work, it's hard to beat the Cross Ion. Several colors, tiny and comes with a lanyard clip to attach to your keychain. Available in office store chains.
Again, these are tools full of personal touch. I'm a fan of spiral-bound notepads and notebooks, with perforated pages, so you can leaf though your work afterward and yank it out for your move from first draft to polishing up. The Tops Docket series comes in 8.5x11, both white quad rule and canary wide rule and has hardback covers for easy lap writing. Available in office store chains. For a treat, find the Miquelrius Red Square Page notebook (stocked at BookPeople, below). Six sections, color coded on the edge, quad ruled, hole-punched, plastic covers: it's got it all. $10 well spent; mine lasted me a year.
You'll want to own your own writing books after awhile. If you're local to Austin, I recommend supporting BookPeople on Sixth and Lamar, though you'll pay list there for a well-stocked independent bookstore. Online it's hard to beat Amazon, so links below lead there. (Amazon is a great resource for book shopping, no matter where you purchase. Lots of books have samples you can read there online, including tables of contents and indexes.)
Books: Preparation This list covers the craft of writing: grammar, punctuation, editing and structure.
The Book of Writer's Wisdom, 101 Rules: Attactive multicolor book (so many writing texts look like socialist manifestos) with 101 rules, 1-3 pages each, covering Approach, Language and Craft. Rule 12: Think of writing sessions as entertainment. Rule 51: Sentences are written like jokes the punchline is at the end. Rule 60: Never save your best for last.
Elements of Style, by Strunk and White: The bedrock of good grammar and punctuation. I got my first copy in 1980 at the University of Texas journalism school.
Writing with Style John R. Trimble taught at UT more than 20 years and wrote this gem in 1975. It's the best-written grammar and style book I've read. Its subtitle is "Conversations on the Art of Writing." Covers quoting rules with 15 pages of advice.
Scene and Structure Jack Bickham's entry into the Elements of Fiction Writing series from Writer's Digest Books. Includes good advice on Scene and Sequel, a time-honored structure that you'll know from thousands of good novels and movies once you see it.
We have copies of all these at the Workshop for browsing on meeting nights, but we don't loan out. The Writer's League of Texas has a wonderful library of many of these titles for checking out at its offices on South Congress, for members.