What tools did famous authors use to write their popular books?

And what writing tools do you use?

Picture your favorite author writing a new book. Where is she sitting? What is she using to write? A computer, a typewriter, pen and pad, taking notes on an iPhone?

The famous authors in the infographic below (from NinjaEssays.com) are all pretty lo-tech when it comes to the composition process — which, of course, isn’t a stunner when you’re talking about Agatha Christie or Mark Twain. But a few of the other examples did surprise me.

Curious how J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and many others get the writing done? Scroll on down!

Top Writing Tools of Famous Authors

What do you use to write your books? Why do you prefer that method or tool? Let me know in the comments section below.

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Chris Robley is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard's Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of "Short Works Poetry."


  1. I start with paper and pencil. Like James Patterson, I plot out my book, then add to the bare bones, rewriting it several times then I use my laptop with MS Word or Scrivener. The more I use Scrivener, the more I like it as it is easy to store research, pull in websites, pictures, and all sorts or things. I really need to use it more to get into the functionality of the program.

    With MS Word, I have been using since first came out…hmm, guess that makes me a bit dated, but it is easy, I can integrate a lot of programs with it like Natueal Reader and Prowriteraid. I enjoy trying new things to see how they improve the ease of my writing and editing.

  2. This is interesting. I was googling how published authors write their famous books and came to this. I use Onenote and microsoft word. I don’t like the pen and paper process because things get lose, ripped, and ruined.

      • Word: Employees can read your stuff. And never store valuable writing on a cloud. Once I leased a server for several years–that’s like a cloud, remote–at a reputable company and after I left (deleting everything so I thought) someone stole my intellectual property. Talk about taking advantage of a situation! I found my words on the web.
        Low tech is a good idea, internet and the”php brigade,” nonprogrammers who can invoke programs but don’t have good boundaries (though they don’t know it) are being very opportunistic these days.


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