Back to School: School Supplies for Writers

First, there was construction paper and jars of paste. Then, there were number two pencils and college-ruled paper. If you were a well organized teen, you might have even had a Trapper Keeper. (Do they even still make Trapper Keepers?) It’s not just students who enjoy the thrill of fresh, new school supplies. This week, the Chicks talk about their writing essentials! 

Lisa Q. Mathews

CotC Word balloonsLike every other writer on the planet, I love notebooks. Not when they’re scribbled in, though. Only when they’re brand new. I’m also a sucker for supplies disguised as something else. For example, my tape dispenser looks like a martini glass with a pink Cosmo and a lime, and my sticky note dispenser is shaped like a tiny, black patent leather purse. My stapler is a little green alligator…you get the idea. Every once in a while I change things up, with shiny new supplies, but I can’t bear to throw the previous ones out—too cute, I guess—so I hide them in a junk cupboard in my husband’s office and visit them every now and then. Sometimes I bring them back out. And about those sticky notes…I go through a lot of them, because I enjoy crumpling them up forever and tossing them after I’ve worked through that annoying plot glitch or hideous to-do list item.

Kellye Garrett


I’m quite particular about what pen and notebook I use when brainstorming my books. No offense to all the hard-working ballpoint pens out there, but I’m a ride-or-die gel-pen girl. In a pinch, I will use a Bic Gelocity or the classic retractable Pilot G2. But my writing weapon of choice is the Uniball Signo 207 BLX series, which is a black ink with just the slightest touch of color. My all-time favorite is the Purple Black color, and yes, I have bought these in bulk before. And probably will again. For notebooks, I’m just as crazy. My go-to is the Staples Sustainable Earth 1-Subject Wirebound Notebook in size 8-1/2″ x 11“. I love the brown-lined sugarcane-based paper, the inside folder and the hard brown cover that comes in a variety of different looks. I can’t walk or drive by a Staples without walking inside to just “casually” check their selection—and pray that they are on sale! Like most addictions, mine ain’t cheap.

Ellen Byron


To this day, there’s no school supply I don’t love, but if I was forced to pick a favorite, it would be the composition notebook. They served as journal during my teen years and I still have a few of them, which are laden with angst, drama, vitriol, and really bad poetry. Boy, are they a hoot to read. My daughter came home the other day with school supplies, and what was among them? A composition notebook. It’s nice to know that in the age of selfies, Snapchat, and oversharing, there’s still a place for that sweet academic memento.

Marla Cooper

CotC Marla Cooper

My writing implement of choice is a Pilot Razor Point—a staple from my days working in ad agencies. They seemed to be sprinkled around on every surface back in those heady times, just waiting for the copywriters to grab them and jot down a brilliant, award-winning campaign idea. To this day, they still seem like they’re full of creative potential. Occasionally, my husband will surprise me with a handful of brand new Razor Points, which is an incredibly thoughtful and romantic gift, in my book. Speaking of books, every time I see a well designed blank book, I have to have it. This is why I try to avoid any area in which blank books are sold. In the moment, they fill me with such inspiration: Oh, the ideas I’ll have! The thoughts I will write within these pages! But the problem with blank books is, you can’t tear pages out, so I save them until I have something important enough to write in a beautifully bound book that will never be thrown away. Which means I have a whole shelf full of beautiful books with not a single word written in them. I have to say, though, thinking about school supplies makes me want to go grab some glitter, magic markers and glue and pretend I’m in art class!

Readers, what was your favorite school supply? And what grown-up school supplies can you not live without?

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6 thoughts on “Back to School: School Supplies for Writers

  1. My most important office supply is coffee, but I mostly use an ultra-fine Sharpie for notes and signing books. I’m intrigued by Kellye’s Uniball Signo 207 BLX series — a name so long I had to refer back to her post while typing it here. So unless I wrote it down on a piece of paper and actually remembered to carry it with me to the store, I’d be wandering around Office Max for hours trying to remember what I’m looking for.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VIckie, I’m always (literally) mesmerized in Staples and Office Max. Usually I leave with a whole bunch of stuff but not what I went in there for.


  2. I agree with Marla; in fact, I could have written her paragraph myself. 😛 I love notebooks, especially the blank book type, and composition books. I always see so much potential in these blank pages, and yet I have a shelf full of still-blank books, for the same reasons she named. My handwriting is so awful unless I really take my time with it (and then my hand cramps up pretty quickly from making my writing so small and neat), so to save the paper from lots of cross-outs and general scribbles I use mechanical pencils to write with, for everything. I prefer the 0.7 leads because the 0.5 leads tend to break very easily, and the twist-up kind of eraser (the tiny kind that you have to replace often and remove from the pencil to be able to refill the lead tend to get stuck inside the pencil and have to be removed by digging them out more times than not, at least by me, and it gets annoying), so my favorite tends to be the Pentel Twist Erase and the Pentel Side FX (it’s a side-clicker—no having to worry about the eraser getting stuck because of all the times it’s been clicked or used and worn down), with my absolute favorite being the side-clicker. If I absolutely have to use a pen, I will either use a Uniball, a Pilot G-2, or a Dr Grip, with my preference being the latter because it’s refillable, but I do love the way gel pens look on paper, especially the different colored inks (my favorite is purple).

    I loved using Trapper Keepers when I was in school. I don’t think they still make them any more, at least they’re called something different if they do, but my new favorite is the zippered binders with plenty of room inside for several pens/pencils, a couple pockets for storing papers, and plenty of room on the rings for loose paper. Of course to preserve the paper I use sheet protectors (and lots of them), so the rings need to be able to hold a LOT of those. 😛 Other than the zippered binders, I prefer the huge D-ring binders that say they hold about 300 or more sheets (of course they mean loose paper, not papers stuffed inside sheet protectors like I do, so whatever number they put on the outside I divide in half and then get the biggest binder I can afford at the time).

    I also go to every school supply sale my local Walmart, Walgreens, and dollar stores have at the beginning (and end) of the school year, to stock up. You just can’t beat 10 cents a piece for single-subject college-ruled notebooks (when I can find them, the schools in our county have gone back to preferring the students use wide-rule…not me, I need the discipline of the college-ruled pages, my handwriting is atrocious enough without giving me the extra room to make it worse), 50 cents for multi-subject notebooks (at the very least 2-subject, but when they’re the big 8 X 11 ones, they’re usually at least 3-subject, and often 5-subject). I will get at least one of each color in stock, just to make sure I have enough. Plus several packs of college-rule looseleaf paper, two or three huge binders, as many packs of mechanical pencils as I can get away with (I always by the packs of leads at the dollar store—$1 for each package), sometimes I’ll even splurge and buy 3 X 5 index cards…did I mention I like school supplies? 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah, I’m hunting down some of those Uniball Signo 207 BLXseses… which I will use with the composition books I got in 8-packs from Costco (for my children *wink* *wink*) Although technically the classic composition book is second to my precious skinny Moleskine’s. *happy sigh*

    Liked by 1 person

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