WRITING ESSENTIALS ( 13 Things I need/want/like having at my disposal when I write)
An article in the September 2010 issue of Writer's Digest, "Essentials To A Writer's Life" by Erik Larson inspired me to come up with my own list of writing essentials. Larson and I share a need for coffee, but some of the other items on his list were things like "Blocks of Undisturbed Time" "Oreo Cookie" and "A Fireplace."
Even though I wrote down the first things that came to mind, I wouldn't necessarily rank my "essentials" in the order in which they appear . . .
1) CAFFEINE: My drug of choice is coffee--General Foods, Hazelnut Café, to be specific. But in a crunch, I’ll go with an ice cold Coke, or a Dr. Pepper or even a tall glass of sweetened iced tea.
2) LOTS OF LIGHT: During the day, I prefer natural light. Thanks to the previous owner, my house has shades, blinds and a number of dark screens on the windows. I’m guessing he must have been a vampire or something . . . I needs my light!
3) A WINDOW: Yeah, the light thing again. Also, I like being able to catch a glimpse of the outside world every now and then.
4) AN INK PIN: I prefer a pen with a thick, bold, black tip. (Stop, don’t even go there, :-D) Uni-ball’s Vision Elite, Bold 0.8mm are typically what I use.
5) ACCESS TO MUSIC: Often times I write with a little jazz playing in the background or on my headset. Depending on the writing project though, sometimes I’ll listen to r&b, blues, hip-hop or rap. Typically when I’m listening to something other than jazz, I’m attempting to create a certain mood-—one befitting of the particular section I’m in the process of writing.
6) A COMFORTABLE CHAIR: Back support and an ability to embrace the tush are the two most important features here. If it swivels, rocks and turns, that’s even better.
7) CALM, QUIET, PEACEFUL ENVIRONMENT: While I’ve trained myself to write just about anywhere (like the ballpark, the dentist office, in front of a blaring television), I prefer a place where the distractions are few. You’re not likely to find me writing in a bar, restaurant or a coffee shop or any other public place by choice, but I have been known to write in the bath tub . . .
8) A DICTIONARY: I can’t spell y’all, so a dictionary is a must. Plus, it helps when I’m not sure if the word I want to use is the best or proper choice. I do keep a Thesaurus nearby, but I don’t use it much—-probably because I’ve heard too many teachers, authors and others speak on the dangers of becoming overly dependent on the Thesaurus.
9) A GRAMMAR REFERENCE GUIDE: The paperback English Handbook I was assigned as a freshman in college has served me well over the years. Yeah, it’s old and some of the pages have pulled loose from the binding, but you couldn't’t pay me to part with it.
10) A YELLOW LEGAL PAD or SPIRAL NOTEBOOK: I prefer composing in long-hand with an ink pen, hence the need for a pad or notebook.
11) BOTTLED WATER: Gotta keep those brain cells hydrated.
12) A BABY NAME BOOK: I like know the meaning and origins of names. Sometimes, when I’m having “problems” with a character, I’ll start going through the baby name book and see if name change is in order.
13) STIMULATING MATERIAL: When I’m really enjoying what I’m writing, it’s like spending a little time in my own private corner of heaven.
If you write (or engage in some other creative endeavor), I'd love to hear what you consider "essential" when you give yourself over to your muse.
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