Today I’m going to talk about all the things that a writer should have at his or her fingertips in order to have a productive writing session.
#1) A dictionary/thesaurus/English usage manual
I know this is really three things in one but I don’t want this list to be longer than it needs to be. I’ll do it all the time. I’ll think of a fantastic word that I want to use in my prose but when I attempt to put it in, I find out that I didn’t use it right. I am also a habitual misspell-er. I spell things phonetically — but I don’t enunciate things right so my words always look like “asldkfjlkje slkdl slfkjsel ejls.”
#2) Pens/pencils/markers/colored pencils/crayons/some kind of writing utensil that is not a laptop
While writing on a laptop is easy, convenient, and can be productive I’m always jotting notes down by hand. I do this because I like to hand-write notes. Pens just always come in handy: you’ll need to take down a message, jot some notes, write down things you need to do to get them out of your mind (We’ll talk more about that next week.), etc.
These little things are fantastic for notes to add to your storyboard. You can also stick them on your laptop, on your door (“Now is the WRITE time. Do not bother me.”), on your forehead, on your cat, etc.
#4) Something to drink or eat
Our lives are generally pretty sedentary so I suggest a healthy snack and some water. A little bowl of mixed nuts and some dried fruit is always a good choice.
That being said, I prefer coffee or Sugar-Free Red Bull and popcorn. Buttered popcorn is annoying because then I get grease all over my keyboard (and that’s just gross). I won’t lie to you, I’m a junk food junkie. But I can’t really lie to you because my waistline always lets people know the truth.
#5) A park or some space to run around
Like I said, we’re sedentary. If you get stuck, it’s a good bet that you need to stand up and get your blood flowing again. Take a walk at a park, jog around your house, walk up and down the stairs a few times, take your dog out for a walk, chase your cat, annoy your boyfriend… You get the picture.
#6) Nice underwear
We’re loners and our job is to sit in a room and write all day, generally by ourselves. Think about it. My best guess is that most of the writers out there are writing without pants on. It’s not necessarily the most classy of habits but…why not?
I’ve never actually written while wearing nothing but underwear (not that I would actually tell you otherwise) but I assume it would be quite liberating. Isn’t that one of the things we need to do to write well? Liberate our minds and our imaginations? Who would have thought that our imaginations were stuck in our pants though…
#7) Speaking of things that touch your butt…
All writers need a good chair. Seriously, your back will thank me. The thing that writers often forget is to take care of their bodies. We munch on crap food. We drink things that rot our insides. We spend most of our time either sitting or lying down, or trying to lie down while we are sitting. A good chair is the least that you could do for yourself.
#8) Flash drives and external hard drives
I back-up my work constantly. But you know what I should do more? Back-up my work. Then after I back-up my work, I need to back-up my work some more. Then, guess what: I drink coffee while I back-up my work one last time.
I’m serious when I say that you should (Let’s say it all together now!) BACK-UP YOUR WORK. Often. Get some flash drives, or an external hard drive and back up your work. Or you can even e-mail it to yourself.
#9) Alone time
Turn your phone off. Lock your door. Read this article and then sign up for a LeechBlock account. We need to have some quiet time with our laptops (or notebooks). Don’t let anything interrupt you. Take at least an hour and write. Write in your underwear, locked in your basement, with nothing but whiskey and corn nuts. Write alone in a cabin (with no cell reception), with all of the doors locked. Just. Write.
#10) A daily goal
A writer isn’t really a writer if he or she only talks about writing. Be productive by starting off each day with a writing goal. It can be a word count (“I’m going to write 2000 words today!”) or it can be a benchmark in the story (“I’m going to write two chapters today!” or “I’m going to finish the big, fight scene then write a scene where the main character makes sweet love to the love interest.”). It can be anything you want.
Just make sure that your goal is reasonable, attainable, and keeps you writing.
#11) Everything on this Pinterest board
I’m serious. Go here and drool over all of the unnecessary writery things.
Good, now go write something.