What’s in Here, Bricks? A Collection of Items I Bring on Writing Trips

“No wonder your shoulders hurt all the time!” my mother exclaims. “What do you keep in here?” 

She made the mistake of trying to move my backpack away from the front door. There’s a reason it stays there for a while after I roll in from a trip out writing. It’s heavy. But it takes time and tools to work on any craft, and writing is no different. 

A few days ago, I emptied my backpack after spending 3 days with my fiancé and a couple friends. The goal had been to write, but I got more research done than actual words. Still progress! In any case, these are my tools of the trade: 

1. Computer, Mouse, and Chargers

Let’s start with the obvious. My computer is the most vital piece of equipment I have. It holds my research files, multiple drafts, outlines, and music. While I COULD write and blog from a phone (like I’m doing right now, actually), I prefer to do so from a laptop. 

The stickers are a bonus. 

2. Wallet, Phone, and Basics

Yes, I’m an Apple user (but the tablet I dig out for the school year is an Android). The wall adapter is a necessary item, and my ancient Nintendo DS still runs Pokemon during lengthy train rides. 

A trend you’ll notice is the number of books I carry. Some are for research, some for pleasure. It’s nice to curl up at a train station with a book about Broadway, but a complete copy of the Declaration of Independence and notes from Congress before America was a country have proven themselves invaluable in framing Sam and Jay’s attitudes toward the war. 

3. Notecards and Flash Drive

Remember how I said historical documents are incredibly useful? Snippets of info are great, but I don’t want to flip through a 1000 page tome every time I want to refer to a specific line. Enter notecards. Just like high school when we had to pull quotes for speeches, I pull info and add in character notes. I staple relevant categories together for quick reference. Can’t do that in book margins!

The puppy on my keys actually holds my backup files. It’s a flash drive that goes everywhere with me. The alien…that may be a story for another post. 

4. Self Care

This is actually a point of irritation. Makeup, hair treatments, and perfume live in my bag during trips whether people think they should or not. 

I’m tired of being told not to put on lip stain, my favorite dry perfume, or do something nicer to my hair than a ponytail whenever I retreat for writing purposes. Looking nice makes me feel nice. Feeling nice makes me more productive. Let me do my thing. 

5. Water, Water, Water

It’s August right now, and the Portland metro area is going through a thoroughly disgusting heat wave. Keep in mind, we consider 80s to be uncomfortably hot. It’s been 103 degrees for three days. Water is not optional. 

6. Magazines and The Most Useful Book Ever

These copies of Writer’s Digest are fairly old, but I still grab a handful for writing trips. They’re loaded with useful information, especially when I get lost and just need a gentle nudge to get going again. That book however…

It’s a godsend. I can safely say it has improved my writing tenfold. Showing a reader the events as they unfold is much easier with the visceral feelings that come with emotion. I’ve learned so much from this book. Eventually I hope to own the whole series of thesauruses. 

7. Notebook, Sketchbook, Planner, Sticky Notes

The sea foam book in the back is loaded with research. It is separated into 5 tabs, some of which hold outlines for different battles, some for blogging ideas, some for health or school. The pockets in the dividers are fantastic, too. Notecards need a home, remember?

The sketchbook holds rough outlines and sketches. I love drawing my characters. The planner has a lot of doodles as well…but mostly it reminds me to get my butt to work or class. 

Sticky notes are much like my notecards, but they’re best for things that need to happen soon, or in very specific places. Like that snippet of dialogue…you’ll figure it out eventually. 😉

8. Journal and Writing Instruments

Yes, I keep a journal. It’s a great way to unpack my thoughts, remind myself of things that need to happen, and stay on track when I’m overwhelmed. It’s also where I broke in that 100 pack of pens with Hamilton lyrics, but I digress. 

The bear. It’s a pencil pouch. It’s adorable. Don’t judge me. 

9. Medical

In case you haven’t caught this yet, I live with a degenerative genetic condition known as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. It’s a disorder in my connective tissue that causes widespread issues including severe pain and daily joint dislocations. 

The TENS unit is small enough I can wear it under my clothes for pain relief. The red band is for physical therapy. Different colors indicate different levels, and red is light, but enough. The bright pink tape is designed to go on my skin and act like external tendons. It helps hold my joints where they belong. 

This condition is why my shoulders hurt all the time. It’s also why I’m looking at repairing my wheeled backpack. This is a portion of what I need daily. This is my reality. I am okay. 

10. Odds and Ends

Sunglasses. Flashlight. Pocket change. A button from my friend. Another from my mom. Homemade glitter slime (because sensory toys are great focus toys). Bobby pins and hair bands. A satchet of good-smelling things I found in my Christmas stocking last year. A Chesire Tsum-Tsum my fiancé gave me. 

Yeah, okay, my bag is a mess. 

My bag is a mix of items, some vital to writing or survival, some sentimental. Pawing through it may give you a sense of who I am, what I enjoy, and how I write. 

There’s one last thing that peeks out of my bag on long trips.

Shiny Vaporeon
. Because no one should travel alone. 

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