X-actly What I Need!

I typed “X” into Google for today’s topic because the only word I had that began with X was xylophone.  I don’t play the xylophone!

Discovering that X-ACTO makes electric pencil sharpeners made me think about office supplies. You could lock me in a Staples with $10,000 and I could spend it all in no time.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE office supplies!

Writers use lots of office supplies.  Some we all need on a regular basis include:

  • Paper.  Probably the most used consumable item writers purchase.
  • Printer cartridges.  Expensive.  If you buy a laser printer, you will save money in the long run.  If you are making money from your writing, I think you can write off the expense on your taxes.  Alas, I spent $350 on a huge commercial laser printer and haven’t recouped the cost yet, but someday I will.  The advantage is it came from a company that will service it in my house if something goes wrong, unlike retail.
  • Pens, pencils.  Not so much anymore, unless you enjoy writing longhand.  With laptops and netbooks, who needs to?
  • Envelopes.  Catalog size for manuscripts, #10 for SASEs, business correspondence and invoicing.
  • Business cards.  Not strictly an office supply, but something a professional writer should have.
  • Shipping supplies. Being hopeful, I bought a bundle of nice, inexpensive plain boxes for mailing manuscripts.  No one’s asked yet.  Nuts!

Not everyone uses these, but they come in handy:

  • Markers. You can use different colors when editing your manuscript, to mark repetition, clichés, typos, things you like/dislike, etc.  This lovely idea came to me courtesy of Renni Browne and Dave King’s book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.  Besides, who doesn’t like markers?
  • File folders / cabinets. Unless you’re a die-hard digital devotee who immediately scans and backs up everything that crosses your desk, you no doubt have paper copies of rejections, manuscripts, correspondence, articles ripped from magazines, notes, etc.  You need somewhere to put them.
  • Sticky notes and page flags. They come in lots of colors.  I use them to mark pages in books when I’m researching, mark the stopping point in a hard-copy manuscript when I go back to work (I have to edit on my lunch hour sometimes), and to remind myself to do stuff.
  • Stackable letter trays.  I have seven of the plastic ones.  I keep things like envelopes, labels and those plastic sleeves in them.

Office supplies get expensive.  Look for coupons and sales.  Sometimes discount stores have cheaper versions of stuff like sticky notes.  The name brands are usually priced higher.

Check the flea markets.  I know that sounds wacky, but I found those letter trays there for a dollar each.  They retail around five or six bucks.  Pack rats will occasionally clear out their closets and stick all those lovely supplies in their booths.

I also found a leather padfolio with the name of a local hospital embossed on it (probably some kind of employee premium) and a pen for only four dollars.  It even had a blank legal pad inside.  I’ve seen address books, refillable appointment books / Dayrunners, and all kinds of notepads for next to nothing.  And you’re trying to set up an office, the flea market can be a great place to find cheap furniture.  Plus, you’re recycling!

If you love office supplies and have found a great way to save on them, or just want to list your favorites, please share with us in the comments.

6 thoughts on “X-actly What I Need!

  1. I love highlighters and sticky notes, especially the little brightly-colored tab kind. I use them for revisons and what not. I like three ring binders for all of my writing research and plot blocks. I also love colored pens…I’m really into purple lately.

    • I like 3-ring binders; I use them for editing hard copy. The manuscript gets printed and hole-punched and that makes it WAY easier to carry it around with me. :)


  2. Hi, Elizabeth, I love to go into office supply stores, but no longer have much need to. I am a retired public school librarian/teacher and have always been attracted to such places. today is the first time I have visited your place but enjoyed what I read. Best regards to you,

  3. I have tons of office supples and so does my wife. She’s a teacher and I’m working on being a writer. We each have our own office in our house (the kids all moved away so we converted the bedrooms). And get ths– you’ll love this– I can look out my back windows of my house and see Staples. Yes in walking distance across the street is a Staples and at the other end of the shopping center is Walmart. I have all the office supples I’ll ever need within walking distance. So cool.


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