"I am at a loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be truly disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man."

26 October 2010

Necessary Writing Tools

No, I'm not talking about silly things like ideas and time and grammar books and spell check. I mean those necessities that one requires to start and/or keep writing once the momentum hits -- The tools and baubles and trinkets that help in the process of emptying your soul on paper (or onto a computer screen).
As November draws ever closer, blog posts may either diminish or increase as I spend time beating my head against the wall for plot ideas or procrastinating putting those said ideas into action. Whatever the case, it is likely more posts about writing, the process, the blocks, the tools, the frustrations and the distractions will continue.
For me, I can adapt, when needed, to different writing conditions. Due to this, my needs for successful writing time can vary, especially in regards to external (or lack thereof) stimuli. Also, as a broke-ass writer, some amenities I would very much like and think would benefit me are currently out of my grasp (and I'm not just talking about a massively cushy leather chair or an on-call masseur, though that would be more than handy and, I'm told, a freebie if you're in a relationship with a really good, caring and understanding person). Still, some items remain essential to me for writing, at least the bulk of the time:

A notepad and good pen/pencil -- 'good' being defined in any writing implement which doesn't smudge or clog easily, flows across the page, and which feels comfortable in my hand. Sometimes I like colors: purple, green, brown, and even red. Most of the time I stick with black or graphite. The notepad tends to be a moleskin-like book around the 4x6 size, with lines and a hard cover. Paper quality needs to be thick enough that if I happen to start scribbling with an extra-fine marker it won't bleed through the pages. Whatever it is, I tend to snag it on impulse following the "I'll know it when I see it" logic of crazy shoppers. It then rides around in my bag/purse all the time, because you never know when a moment of inspiration, or simply a moment free to write, will occur.

Tea -- lots of it, usually hot. So many times I wish I had a portable microwave/stove/hot plate to go everywhere to make for an endless supply of hot tea. It's frustrating to force myself up from a writing perch (or slouch), stumble downstairs, put the kettle on, wait for the boil, then steep and mix (if applicable) and trudge back up to my imprinted spot of mattress or seat and try to regain my train of thought. Still, it's better than not having tea at all. Tea is life.

A comfy seat -- though not always possible when writing on the go (or at work, or in a cafe, or between cues during a show), ideally I need a place I can curl up with my laptop or notepad and write for long periods without needing to move (unless it's to get more tea). This is probably an area where I'm most adaptable so long as I have tea and music to keep me focused, however I'm longing to test out my new-to-me (freebie) cushy leather office chair this November. On it, I can perch cross-legged -- comfortably -- and be at the ideal height for typing.
Now if I could only get my desk cleaned off...

Background Noise -- one of those necessities which varies depending on my mood. Sometimes I need the low thrum of the TV on a random channel (Food Network, Travel Channel and History International work well). Occasionally I require a specific show or movie for thematic and/or mood purposes. More than either of these, I require music. While my novelling counterpart favors goth rock (very suited to our material) and dark symphonic scores (again, good choice), I tend towards one of three styles: symphonic scores and instrumentals (though not always dark ones), Celtic-flavored music (it's in my blood), or pop music. Why, when writing about angst-ridden teens and vampires (who never sparkle unless bursting into flames, and that's more of a bright torch than a Sephora shine) I sometimes require the dulcet tones of "It's Britney, bitch," or "It's tearin' up my heart when I'm with you," I may never know. Though, looking at that last lyric, taken literally pop music can be very gruesome. Still, it likely has more to do with relying on favored styles of music than anything else. When I'm not digging for inspiration or requiring intellectual stimulation, I go for comfort.

Distractions -- I'm not referring to co-workers chatting incessantly around you, or people in the cafe gossiping on their cell phones loud enough for all to hear, or the neighborhood lawn and construction guys teaming up all at once to assault your eardrums, or a friend texting you incessantly... I'm talking about entertaining distractions like online games, reading up on the suffering of fellow writers, stalking people and plotting out your next meal as though you had time to cook. While time-sucking is a major danger when writing, sometimes you need to absent yourself from the pad or the screen for a bit, ignore that blinking cursor which taunts you night and day with untapped potential, and feed yourself with silliness for a few minutes in order to recharge your brain. I find that while we all have our problem addictions when it comes to distractions, if you find the distractions that only drag your focus away for 10-15 minutes every now and again, productivity can increase. I say, 'can,' however and that doesn't always translate to 'does.' Though for me without the occasional intentional distraction my concentration fades after about an hour... sometimes less.

These are my essentials for writing with gusto -- what are yours?

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