Hi folks, it’s been a while. You’ll get this often from me, I’m afraid; The trouble with a Day Job that simultaneously (barely) pays the bills and sucks the soul out of you as soon as you enter the building, is that on some days, as soon as I get home, the Blog takes a back seat to whatever will “spark joy” (to quote what I’ve been hearing a lot of lately), such as working on a revision, or outlining a new project, or, on days when the Soul Sucking has been particularly bad and my characters refuse to budge until I’m in a better mental space, I binge watch baseball games, or romantic comedies, or baseball romantic comedies, or period dramas. So sometimes the Blog takes a back seat.
But I digress.
I thought I’d use this space today to list the things I have in my writing space that I must have in order to create properly. Note that this is just me, and everyone is different, and I can’t guarantee results if you replicate this exact thing on your own – you’ll have to play around with your environment until you do.
1) A comfy chair. This to me is key. Honestly I can sit and write anywhere, but the output is greatly reduced if I’m sitting on a backless wooden splintery bench, or one that doesn’t have back support in general. My body rebels, you see, if it’s not at the right height relative to my keyboard, with proper lumbar support. Back pain and carpal tunnel are serious, people, and being a writer means you’re setting yourself up for both unless you. Have. A. Comfy. Chair. A desk is optional, but preferred—I’ve learned to write where the muse takes me, be it a cramped airline seat or standing in the subway car. Sometimes my muse is a jerk.
2) A Vision Board. I have a corkboard that currently has famous people I think might be a good physical match for my characters, alternate character information that isn’t critical to the story but helps me reset back into their heads (favorite spell components, band members, family members three times removed, etc ), physical locations that my scene might take place in… and actual aspirational things like the heading of the New York Times bestseller list, a “Publishers Weekly Starred reviews releasing this week” page, and the like (Gotta keep those dreams alive!). It hangs above my desk, where it’s the first thing I see when I look away from my computer screen.
3) Clacky keyboard. I grew up actually learning to type on a clacky keyboard (which I have long since forgotten—now I am surprisingly good hunt ‘n pecker that can manage 70 wpm), so I tend to jam on my keys to make some noise. (I played piano the same way—my harpsichord instructor in college lamented my barbaric pounding of keys) I imagine one day I’ll splurge on one of those thousand-dollar monstrosities with fancy Cherry MX Blue keys that light up in the color of my choosing. For now, as I work in publishing, I pound on my poor cheap $20 keyboard that I replace after I’ve worn all the letters off and half the keys aren’t responsive anymore. Bottom line: I am a loud typer, and I’m okay with this.
4) Spotify, Pandora premium. This is where the playlist comes from. Once I have the characters down I usually stick with one artist for general tone (One of my WIP’s is pretty much all Disturbed and Avenged Sevenfold all the time, and I don’t know how I feel about that haha)
5) Microsoft Word, Scrivener. I generate scenes in MW, then plug into Scrivener. Don’t ask me why I don’t just do this all in Scrivener, I don’t know. I’m a creature of habit though, and I was using MW way longer than Scrivener came into my life. That Scrivener app has been a game changer, though.
6) Space to walk around. When I’m in the zone I trip on things. Okay, so I trip on things regardless of whether or not I’m in the zone. But sometimes I get up and pace. Or get a cup of coffee. Or a snack. I need to get up sometimes—even a comfy chair can’t save you from the hungries or the weird position my neck was in for a couple of hours as I typed. (I try not to hover over my keyboard like a vulture but it happens sometimes) not having random things in my walking path is key.
7) Coffee. I don’t think I need to really explain this one. I’ve been blessed (?) with a high caffeine tolerance, so I’m drinking caffeinated coffee until 9PM some days. Yay, me.
8) A writing instrument and a vehicle for said writing instrument. SO: Moleskine notebook + .03 ballpoint pen, or my laptop + ghetto $20 keyboard, or my ipad + portable keyboard.
And that’s it! (There’s a whole subcategory of “kinda necessary” like snacks, but I should also NOT have snacks at the ready when I’m writing, so I’m very torn regarding this subcategory in general.) What are your tools of the trade? Let me know in the comments!