Before I joined the ranks of professional writers, it was easy to picture my favorite authors doing what they did best – cozied up to their typewriters (Yes. Typewriters.), dressed to the nines, evening gown and high heels, a glass of sparkling water sitting at the wayside and a cat curled in a snug circle on their lap.
Now that I am an actual writer (and know a good many others), this picture has shifted a bit. Okay, a lot. Writing isn’t nearly as glamorous as I imagined. Neither is it cozy. (Anybody else familiar with that deep neck ache that likes to creep up the back of the head? How about cringe-worthy desk shoulders?)
Recently when asked what my go-to essentials are for the typical writing session, I thought about a good many things. Like my pajamas. Something comfy so that I’m not worried about my clothing. The less uncomfortable I am, the better. This helps me go beyond the physical and submerge myself in the world of my characters. I'd rather worry about what they're wearing, what they're saying and feeling than what I am. That's my job, at least.I also thought about my trusty computer. It’s several steps up from a typewriter. I can take it practically anywhere I go. It even has this nifty feature that helps me resist procrastination by cutting off my Wi-Fi options.
|A throwback to my first office shelves. |
Things have changed a wee bit since - aside from
I thought about my keeper shelf where I store books that have inspired me through the years. Whether they’re great works of fiction or real life love stories or books on writing or life, simply being in the same room with these books gives me a motivating boost on those days when writing doesn’t come easily.Here are a few other essentials that get me through the day (or night)….
Burt’s Bees Lip BalmThe kind with the pomegranate is my favorite. Once, I was the nervous sort. I constantly bit my lower lip or tugged at it with my teeth. Chapped lips plagued me from dawn to dusk. Through the years, I’ve thrown away lipstick choices for lip balms of all varieties. I guess you could count them as my chief beauty essentials…as well as one of my favorite writing ones. When I’m up against a deadline, that old lip-biting habit often comes back to haunt me. I always have a tube of Burt’s Bees at the ready to stave off this pesky problem.
A Hair TieEver read the books in which the main character constantly finger-combs his/her hair when they’re pensive or frustrated? People actually do this. These are my people. At the writing desk, this habit peaks like no other. By the end of a decent writing session, I’ve been known to look like anyone from Chewbacca to Albert Einstein. Glamorous, right? Now that I’m growing my hair out again, it’s easy to sweep ye ol’ mane into a high bun to keep it from getting out of hand.
|Just one example of my long-hand plotting style....|
NotesA common fixture at my side during writing sessions is a trusty spiral-bound notebook or two. There’s something about writing long-hand. I hold a firm belief that it is a dying art form, just like old-fashioned letter-writing and calligraphy. Nothing makes the ideas spout when it comes to plotting or free-writing like a blank piece of paper and an ink pen. Even when I’m writing at the computer, I usually have my notebooks spread open around me so that I can keep track of my plot points and myriad character details I wrote there as the story was initially coming to me. (Whoever said an idea you have to write down to remember isn't worth remembering doesn't know those of us humanoids who sometimes forget to put on shoes when we leave the house....)
CaffeineI’ve always been a night-writer, but now that I have two young children, it’s even more difficult to squeeze in a decent writing episode during the daytime hours. After I’ve put BabyCakes down for the night and the hub whisks our preschool rascal off for his beddy-bye routine, I can try cracking down on my daily writing goals. Caffeine is a strong ally at 12:30 at night when words start to blur together and the idea of my memory foam pillow becomes more and more seductive...zzzzzzz.
|Longhand. The cheapest form of writerly therapy....|
MusicSomething else that helps keep me motivated during those late-night writing sessions: my tunes! Tastes range depending on my current subject, characters, or mood but mostly I like to listen to motown hits, ‘90’s alternative bands, big band swing, epic instrumentals, or something modern and bouncy if I really need a swift kick in the rear to keep me going. Everybody else is sleeping by this point so earbuds are a must.
Readers, I’d love to know what your essentials are for a binge-reading session! Rainy afternoons? Fuzzy socks? A cuppa tea? A big, thick blanket? Feel free to share and happy reading!