Marcia’s 13 Favorite Things for Writers – 2023

I’m a big fan of Oprah’s “Favorite Things” List, which she publishes in her quarterly magazine each November. In it, you’ll find luxurious clothes and slippers, high-end appliances, electronics, facial creams and treatments you never knew existed, decadent desserts, as well as toys and gifts anyone would be thrilled to receive.

Well, I’m a much more practical girl. Although I would never buy a one-of-a-kind $50,000 SMEG refrigerator designed by Dolce & Gabbana that Oprah raved about, I have been known to spend many hundreds of dollars on a chair that won’t hurt my back.

(Yes, this is what a custom SMEG fridge looks like.)

I’m also finishing up a redesign of my office (really more of a rejuvenation than an overhaul), and in the process I came across a number of products that I really, really like.

The last couple of years I’ve had a blast compiling a gift box of my favorite things of the year for my brother’s partner Elizabeth. So, this year I thought I’d pull together a similar list for my writer friends and colleagues. I’m always curious what other pros are using, so I hope you enjoy my own Favorite Things list.

*A few of these items will generate a small affiliate commission to me if you end up buying them, but the price will not change and these are all items I actually have in my office or use.

Office Furniture and Décor

As the daughter of a fine artist, what goes on my walls is generally my highest priority in any space, but I’ve also tested out more typical writer accoutrements like desks and chairs through the years. These are some of the items you’ll find in my office.

Bulletin board

I bought a huge white wood framed bulletin board at Pottery Barn Kids a million years ago that I love and use daily. Pottery Barn no longer sells the model I own but this bulletin board is pretty similar. I hang it horizontally and pin my colorful calendars for the next three months (you’ll see the actual pages I’m talking about a little farther down on my list) as well as mementos from recent vacations, my vision board, and ideas for upcoming blog posts or articles that I want to pitch.

Desk chair

Through the years I have bought almost every type of desk chair known to humankind. I’ve purchased an expensive desk chair that is supposed to take pressure off your back (which didn’t), as well as several different cheap task chairs that didn’t hurt my back but also didn’t help it. Earlier this year I bought a mid-grade chair from Amazon mainly because I liked the white fabric and gold trim, and it’s turned out to be just as comfy as some of the pricey varieties but it looks nicer and less imposing.

Picture frames

After painting my office walls a dark navy blue this past summer, I opted for gold as the accent color for accessories like picture frames. I bought this set of three larger gold picture frames in which I’ve framed some fun Lilly Pulitzer fabric and love how they look. The frames aren’t too expensive normally (around $75), though they do go out of stock pretty regularly and the price can skyrocket. Just wait until the price comes back down to earth before buying if you like the look.

Large monthly wall calendar

I’m a very visual person and seeing my top priorities on a monthly calendar helps me to conceptualize and plan my workload. I love this large monthly calendar for two main reasons: 1) because it’s colorful and 2) because it’s so large that I can write upcoming deadlines on it and still be able to read it from several feet away. I’ve ordered it every year since 2020 and will be ordering another for 2024.

I work on a quarterly basis, so I put three months up at a time on my bulletin board, rather than the whole year, though I do love how colorful 12 of these pages would look.

Office Supplies

I know several writers who are striving for a paperless work area. While the minimalist in me loves this idea, the realist in me encourages me to stick with the paper-based process that has served me well for years. The result is that I have an organized office filled with many paper notebooks, paper file folders, and paper reminders. And it works for me.

That’s not to say I eschew technology, because I don’t. I’m not always on the bleeding edge, but I do rely on a number of tech tools that make my writing business run more efficiently and effectively.

Some of my favorite tools are:

Muji ballpoint pens

My children had the great privilege of studying with several Chinese, Japanese, and Korean classmates during high school who used upscale writing instruments. Their pens and pencils were always remarkable and elegant. My daughter took note of one style in class one day and mentioned to me how easily the ballpoint pen flowed. The brand was Muji. I investigated and decided to try some out. These knock type ballpoint pens are my absolute favorite. I can’t write with anything else now, I’m so spoiled. Although I originally ordered them from the Muji store in Japan, you can now get them through Amazon, which I appreciate.

Blue Yeti microphone

I upgraded my microphone during Covid with a Blue Yeti standalone microphone when I realized the quality of the sound from my monitor alone wasn’t so great on Zoom calls. I love it. It sits on my desk and I have set it up as the default sound input for my computer. Blue Yeti has a number of models, but I purchased one of the more basic ones to start and haven’t yet felt a need to upgrade.

Agendio day planner

I will admit that I’m a planner junkie. I routinely go through several a year in my quest to find the paper tool that will help me get more done in a day. When I came across Agendio, I was excited by the chance to design and customize my own planner, rather than continuing to try to modify mass produced planners to meet my own work style. Now that I have it, I’m enjoying the ability to divide my day into appointments, tasks, and errands, which is kind of how I think. The Agendio is on the pricey side and takes some time to customize, but I really like mine.

Idea catcher notebooks

I recently discovered these horizontal planner notebooks from Dollar Tree, thanks to a surprisingly relevant Facebook ad in my newsfeed, and I love them. I use them for keeping track of article ideas and topics I come across. I jot them down one per page, to make it easy to track which I’ve pitched and which I haven’t. At $1.25/each, I think they’re a great organizing tool.

Spiral notebooks

I’ve been a Staples Premium member so long that my rewards card doesn’t work without adding two zeros at the beginning. Because I can recycle 20 ink cartridges a month for $2/each in credit, netting me $40 to spend, I buy all of my printer paper and notebooks here.

My favorite from Designworks Ink has a sturdy cardstock cover and smooth papers that don’t stick together. Yes, they’re pricey, but I love writing on them. At Staples I can find them in some stores for $16.99/each. You can also get them at Amazon at the link above, though the current price is $30. I probably wouldn’t pay that, though I do love the muted cover colors a lot.


Although I never outsource the writing my clients hire me to do, I continue to try to delegate tasks that are not within my zone of genius. That is, tasks other people or companies can perform better than I can. Some of these services include the following:


I’ve used an accountant for decades, to ensure I’m taking all of the deductions I’m legally entitled to, but was spending countless hours tallying all of my expenses in preparation for his number crunching. So, two years ago, I handed over all of that tracking to What I love about Bench is that I can talk to a live person there if I have questions or need clarification, but otherwise, after I linked all of my bank accounts and credit cards, all of that information is automatically delivered to them for categorizing and totaling. Such a timesaver.


Many of you have heard me sing the praises of transcription platform Speechpad. I’ve used a number of other transcription services and Speechpad is much more accurate, which saves me a lot of time. They use human transcriptionists and have a quality control process that helps ensure what is typed reflects what my interviewee and I discussed. The cost is also lower than Rev at the moment, at $1.20/minute with four-day turnaround. What I love most about Speechpad is its Record-a-Call service, which allows me to easily dial my interviewee and immediately record the call, which can be downloaded and/or transcribed by Speechpad. Very convenient!


Although I would never dream of offering fashion advice, I have a few items I wear that keep me comfortable and cozy during the cooler months while I’m working in my office.

Bleusalt wrap

Yes, I got sucked in by a Facebook ad a few years ago and bought this amazing wrap in navy blue. It comes in three lengths—one yard, two yards, and three yards—and I opted for the largest, thinking that I could then wrap it multiple times if I got cold. I’m so glad I did. At 44” x 108”, I use it as a blanket, a scarf, and a wrap, depending on where I’m going. It is super soft and looks quite elegant. Since then I’ve also bought a blazer, skirt, and shorter wrap, I like the fabric so much.

Ugg slippers

To be productive as a writer, I need to feel comfortable. That means wearing clothing and footwear that will maintain my body temperature so that I don’t get distracted by my chattering teeth. One of the items I wear daily is my pair of fuzzy Ugg slippers my son bought me. I suspect most writers have some type of slipper or socks with treads that they rely on. I like these because they have a hard sole but are also fuzzy and lined.

Sure, Oprah raved about these same slippers at least a decade ago, but I tend to try lots of alternatives before I choose my favorite and then stick with it.

All of my favorites are products I’ve tried out and love, and I hope you will too if you decide to get them for yourself or someone on your holiday gift list.

What are your favorite products or services? I’d love to add to my list!

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Marcia Layton Turner

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