28 Aug

School Supplies

Posted in DIY MFA

I love buying school supplies.  Love it.  Love everything about it, from searching bookstore after bookstore for the perfect notebook to trying out a hundred different pens (ballpoint, gel rollers, fountain pens….)

The Basics

As you prepare to put together your DIY MFA, you may want to consider treating yourself to a few simple school supplies:

  • Notebook where you can take notes and store away your ideas
  • Folder to hold your DIY MFA lists and assignments
  • Writing implement of your choice

Every writer has probably spent way too many hours at their office supply store or bookstore, ogling the pretty notebooks and dying to play with the pretty pens.  I am not advising that you spend an entire weekend hunting for school supplies, otherwise you’ll have no time left for writing.  Just find a system that works for you and then stick to it.  After much trial and error, I’ve come up with a system of my own and now I keep some backup supplies so that I always have extras on hand.  You know, in case there’s a blizzard.  Or a blackout.  Or a sudden shortage of fountain pens.

Notebook: This is where I do most of my writing when I’m away from the computer.  I’ll even use it instead of the computer from time to time, just to shake things up a bit.  It’s small enough to fit in my purse but big enough so I don’t get hand cramps trying to write in it.  I used to be a die-hard moleskine fan, but now I’ve actually converted to the ecosystem variety because I find them to be more lightweight.  Also I like the pretty colors.  The medium one is the perfect size for me and, of course, I always go for the unlined styles because sometimes I like to write sideways or draw diagrams.

Folder: Conferences are a great place to get pretty folders.  I reuse my SCBWI conference folders over and over until they fall apart. Don’t be afraid to get whimsical with these.  If cartoon characters or unicorns are more your style than “serious” solid-colored folders, then go for it.  Have fun.

Pen: My choice in writing implement is the only thing that’s stayed pretty constant since I first started writing seriously.  Pilot Varsity fountain pens.  Dark blue.  This may seem super-finicky but there is a method to this madness, I promise you.  I need a fast pen that writes with little pressure (hence the fountain pen choice) and because I make notes in the margin of my manuscripts and I want to be able to spot my comments quickly (hence the blue rather than black ink).

Other Fun Supplies

Stickers: I’m a firm believer in stickers.  I keep a bunch of stickers on hand and give myself a gold star or a smiley after a writing job well done.  I know it sounds infantile, but it helps me keep my mood light and puts my writing in perspective.  If writing well is all about gold stars and smiley faces then it’s not really a big deal.  And if it’s not a big deal, then it stops being scary.

Mascot:  Every writer has a mascot, whether they’re aware of it or not.  To tell the truth, I have several mascots, but in the interest of time rather than describing them, I’ll just show you my two favorites.

The knitted cactus plant was something I found in a flea market when I was eleven.  I got it because it was the only kind of plant that I wouldn’t be able to kill (trust me, I was terrible with plants.  Still am.) I carried the cactus with me all through middle school and high school, took it with me to all my exams, even took it to college with me.  The pink alien is more recent, designed and made by a friend back when I was in design school.  And yes, the pink alien is picking his nose with his tongue.  So gross and yet so funny!


Comments on this post

  1. Shaddy says:

    I love school supplies too!

    I feel like a kid again, getting ready for the first day of school. I'm in high spirits as I await September and being on the campus of iggiU.

    Thank you for the supply tips. I may have to run to Staples just for the fun of it. I already have everything you mentioned except a Pilot Varsity fountain pen. It sounds like an excellent writing tool for when the thoughts come in a rush.

    Hurray, hurray for iggiU!!!

    1. Shaddy says:

      P.S. Did you get my registration? I registered as Cheryl Peters, my honest-to-goodness given name.

      1. Najela says:

        Oh thank goodness. I thought I was the only one who got excited about going to an officemax. Lol.

        I will most likely buy those things today while I'm out. I need more school supplies for "actual" school anyway…

        1. gabi says:

          Hi everyone! I'm so glad I'm not the only one who gets all excited about school supplies.

          Remember, it's not about getting the exact same supplies I mention above, but finding a system that works for you. I wanted to share with you all what works for me as a jumping off point. And don't forget to give yourself permission to have fun with this too!

          p.s. Shaddy – no worries. Got your registration and made a note next to your name so I remember it's you.


          1. Meghan Schuessler says:

            I just registered (better late than never)! Looking forward to getting my learning on 🙂

            1. Merrilee says:

              Yaaay notebooks! Not that I need an excuse to get another one.

              1. darksculptures says:

                Any excuse to buy a new notebook is a good excuse!

                1. Kerryn Angell says:

                  So how many notebooks can I accumulate over the next three years before I have to haul them all back to NZ? In any case, I also lurve the stationary. I still have pages in my current notebook (Cirque du Soleil, Love) and most of a pretty stripey notebook… and a lurvely new one that my best friend sent me from NZ.

                  I recently bought a pink Parker fountain pen with refills! Much cheaper than buying new pens all the time which hubby was very pleased to hear.

                  I must have stickers!! Gold stars and smiley faces here I come!

                  1. Sonia says:

                    Stickers are a brilliant idea! And I completely agree with darksculptures- any reason for a new notebook is a good one.
                    I always keep a little marble turtle I bought in Alaska near me and play with it when I'm thinking things over, but I have this little adorable Japanese warrior statue that I bought at the Japanese Festival years and years ago, complete with a tiny weapon (it looks like a hatchet?) in his hand—seems like it would make a perfect mascot : ) Write like a warrior will be my new motto!

                    1. Janice says:

                      My love of stationary will never die. I used to be an office manager with a nice stationary budget; I would spend hours looking at the catalogs – heaven 🙂

                      I already have all my supplies thanks to my addiction, but I think I might need a new fountain pen. Kerryn, I like the sound of the pink Parker.

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