I have come across an abundance of lists over the past few months depicting what a writer needs to help them work. Some are what you would expect, others are out of the ordinary, for everyone is different. So I thought I’d give it a go myself and I found that it wasn’t that difficult to compile; I simply looked at my writing routine and the elements involved that help me write.
As you can see in the picture above, number one is absolutely a cup of tea. You may think that it’s not very professional or not that important, but for me it is a necessity. For as long as I can remember I have always had a cup of tea next to me when writing, and now psychologically, I struggle to get going without one. So god help me if we ever run out of milk.
As we move further into the technological age, I fear for the life span of pen and paper. I still write by hand before I even get close to Microsoft Word. I love stationary for some strange reason so writing with a beautiful pen makes the whole process more enjoyable. I believe it is a more personal way to write and feel much more connected to the piece than I would say if I typed it straight onto a computer. ‘What a waste of time!’ I hear you say… but to me it gives me a sense of confidence that once an idea begins to brew I wouldn’t be distracted by the computer and its distracting pathways. Susan Sontag sums it up quite perfectly for me on The Daily Pickings website. She says ‘I write in spurts. I write when I have to because the pressure builds up and I feel enough confidence that something has matured in my head and I can write it down. But once something is really under way, I don’t want to do anything else. I don’t go out, much of the time I forget to eat, I sleep very little. It’s a very undisciplined way of working and makes me not very prolific.’
Number three is what I’ve come to call a Research Burst. Now by this I don’t necessarily mean sitting for hours scouring the Internet so not to be mistaken for procrastination, but rather have a quick read for ten to fifteen minutes, preferably on the subject about which you are writing. E.g. I’m writing about war time Liverpool at the moment so before I start to write I may pick up a book of the same topic and get myself in that time frame as best I can, henceforth a ‘research burst’.
The next point that is important to me when writing is making sure I have plenty of natural light. I’m unsure why this is needed more than a simple lightbulb like everyone else, but I find that the ambience and lighting in the room affects the way I write i.e. how much I can come up with in one sitting. And I don’t have seasonal affective disorder for writers or anything, I just know natural light works better for me and my carefully selected pen.
Ssshh! Number five on my list is quietness. Simple as that. As little noise as possible. But I dont want to produce a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign just yet…