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?

Comments

Motherboard 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...)!
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
Sue said…
I need music, too. It helps get me in the mood.

=)
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*
L.T. Elliot 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.
Gussie 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.
Kim Coates 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!
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