Friday, August 27, 2010

Top 5 Essentials to a Writer's Life

Totally stealing this idea from the current (Sept '10) Writer's Digest. It's their "Big 10" issue, where every article and department has a theme of 10.

One section has ten best-selling writers, each given a question with their top 10 answers. I'm going to answer some of those myself, only keep the answers to five instead of ten. (I'm no Jodi Piccoult.)

Top 5 Essentials to a Writer's Life

1) The Right Tools
This definitely includes a computer, because you simply cannot function in the modern publishing industry without one. That is, unless you're Ray Bradbury (who still insists on using a typewriter). But he's Ray Bradbury.

Some writers prefer drafting in longhand, so their tools include a notebook and pen or pencil. I can't do that, in large part because my handwriting is atrocious. One of my best tools ever is my Alphasmart Neo. I've done more drafting on that puppy than almost anywhere else, and it's made drafting possible in places a laptop or other device wouldn't be convenient.

I'd include books under this category. A writer must read. A writer must research. Books are the lifeblood of a good writer.

2) Brainless Time
This is time when my brain can wander around and be creative, thinking ahead to maybe what scene will come next, how to solve this plot problem, what this character is really like. If I use my brainless time wisely, I'll be ready to crank out 1,000 words next time I'm at the keyboard.

Brainless time is critical for anyone who isn't a full-time writer. (In other words, those of us not lucky enough to have big blocks of time to write. Or, most of us.)

3) A Solid Internet Connection
This can be both a blessing and a curse: if I'm not careful, I can "just" check e-mail or "just" read one blog, and next thing I know, two hours are shot, with nothing written. That said, e-mail is how I communicate with my editor, how I submit articles, how I communicate with my readers, how I, oh, blog. It's how I stay up-to-date on the industry and trends. It's a must.

4) Rewards
These can be small, for daily goals (I get a piece of chocolate if I finish this scene/chapter/reach my word count) or big (I get a massage when I finish drafting this book). Or somewhere in between. Really, it's scary how well bribery works on your inner writer. It's such a baby.

5) Writer Friends
If I didn't have friends who are as weird and loopy as I am, friends who get me and the way I think, who have been there and understand both the highs and lows of writing and publishing, I'd completely lose my mind. The act of writing is solitary; I desperately need links to writer friends to breathe life back in to me.

What are your essentials?


Elisa said...

I must have good music that sparks my creativity. Which is different for everyone, but for me it's music that causes reflection and memories. That's when the stories come for me.

Angie said...

I agree very much with your list, and with Motherboard's suggestion of music. I love having music. I would add that a personal computer geek is invaluable if you're lucky enough to have one.

T.J. said...

I just flat out agree with all 5. Yeah, maybe chocolate needs to be added to the list. Ok, not really. Don't need the keyboard to be all chocolatey.

Krista said...

Great list! Don't know where I'd be without all the information I'm picking up on the internet. It's a second education(and yes, a terrible distraction...)!

Melissa Cunningham said...

Loved this post. Especially the part about writer friends. I feel like I haven't had much contact with all you writer friends out there and I miss it. It has a busy summer and I'm ready to get back in the saddle. When's the next conference? LOL

Susan Anderson said...

I need music, too. It helps get me in the mood.


Cluttered Brain said...

Yes, Yes i totally agree.
Especially good writer and editing type friends too.
When you just just can't figure out what is supposed to be in your next sentence.
And i'm also going to say a little peace and quiet so I can actually write, but that hardly EVER happens and I still am writing so maybe that wouldn't make such a big difference after all. *sigh*

Anonymous said...

So I read that you give yourself the gift of a massage for finishing a draft and I said out loud, "That's so COOL!" I never even thought about that.

Kaye P. Clark said...

I write my rough drafts on an AlphaSmart too. It's great because I can't see more than four lines and my internal editor can't distract me. Here's another item to add to the list--an alarm clock to wake you early so you'll be able to write before the rest of the family gets up.

Annette Lyon said...

Gussie, The small screen in one reason I love the AlphaSmart too--it's freeing to have no clue if you're near the end of a page or how many words you've written. You just WRITE.

The clock's a great idea too--I know a lot of writers who've gotten where they are thanks to an early wake-up time.

Anonymous said...

I recently got my own AlphaSmart, and love it. I haven't used it to its full potential yet, but I'm ready to start! I have a block of time tomorrow, and I plan to put those long lasting batteries to good use!

Great list!

Anonymous said...

"I got some cleats," she said. "Yes!"
Fred reached into the caddy and pulled in every nook a twins eccentric of black size 21 Adidas cleats, ending the alma mater's long and frustrating trek to be seized peep of a stretch over of[url=] Christian Louboutin[/url] shoes that could relevant the women oversized feet.
"Oh, this is delightfully," Fred said as sje held the shoes in fa‡ade of him. "I like this. I can't drill round to dress in them."
She smiled again as she tried on the shoes and as members of the coaching wild took photos. The nose cope with whom classmates dub "Dress Side" and "Jumbo Fred" no longer would cause planned to rely on a hoarse brace of 5-year-old cleats that were at least a reach too small.
"They neutralize," Fred said.
"And they look nice, too," Burke said.
The cleats arrived Tuesday via overnight diction from Eastbay, a sporting goods entourage based in Wisconsin whose officials had interpret widespread Tech's struggles to find [url= Christian Louboutin-slingback_c19]Christian Louboutin shoes[/url] repayment instead of Fred. As the week went on, more shoes arrived. [url=]Christian Louboutin sale[/url] white sale cut-price sent a dyad of bigness 20 cleats, and the Indianapolis Colts added three pairs of mass 19s that had been professionally stretched so they would proper the sophomore's gauge 20 feet.
"It feels like Christmas," Fred said.
The corporate donations were impressive. Unvaried more effective was the whopping manufacture of send that landed each hour matrix week in Tech's athletic office. Dozens of envelopes came stuffed with checks and notes courteousness of people who had broadcast more Fred and his disciples's ineptness to bear the expense the custom-made cleats he needed.


Amazon's famous Prime Day events are huge for so many reasons, and for bookworms, it's even better: books aren't high-ticket ite...