Thanks, Chocolate: Top 10 Writing Essentials

At Writer’s Digest, Erik Larson shares his top 10 essentials to a writer’s life. When your first and second items are coffee, you have my full agreement.

This got me thinking about my own top 10 essentials. In no real particular order:

Hydration nation.

1. Water
Although I sing songs about the awesomeness of coffee, I tend to have a glass of water by my side when I’m writing. Usually it’s because I write at night and caffeine after 7pm isn’t so great. Plus water is refreshing. Don’t worry, coffee, I still love you!

2. iTunes
As I’ve mentioned before, pretty much all of my projects have a corresponding playlist. Nothing gets me quite in the writing mood like a good story soundtrack.

3. Blocks of Undisturbed Time
Stealing from Larson on this one. I think most writers wish they had time to sit down and write without distractions. Walt and I like to schedule writing time in the evenings so we both know that’s all we have to do.

4. Dropbox
No matter where I am, I can access my files via this file-hosting program and write in any spare time. Way better than my old method of emailing myself drafts and trying to remember which was the most current.

Not me running, because apparently I look heinous when I run. Thanks, race photos.

5. Running
Okay, I feel like a lot of writers talk about how they feel about running and how it connects them to their work. But it’s true. I’m not even that great a runner–so far the biggest race I’ve done is a 10k. But I try to work out in the mornings, and a lot of times I end up thinking about whatever I’m writing. I also don’t run without music (mostly because I’m scared I’ll get hit by a car because I’m too distracted) so it’s the perfect time for writerly brainstorming.

6. Friends Who Like Books
I’m fortunate to know a lot of people who not only like reading and writing, but also like YA and children’s lit. When you’re feeling down about your writing and your general life choices, having a support system that encourages your life choices is amazing. And friends can share book recommendations/read your drafts/commiserate about the craziness of the writing life. Extra points if your partner/family is supportive as well.

7. Chocolate
Essential to life, not just the writing process. It helps if you can hold off on the chocolate until you’ve finished that chapter.

8. Literary Community
YA author reading at a local bookstore? I’m there. SCBWI event? Love to! Formal events outside of your own writing/reading circle are a great reminder that this is a valid life choice. Writing is awesome. Reading is awesome. And there are a lot of people out there who like both. Plus, it’s so helpful to get information about writing as a career.

Bear, you will never get work done in a non-dedicated writing space!

9. Dedicated Writing Space
If I try to write in the same place on the couch I curl up in to watch TV, I’m guaranteed not to get work done. If I sit down at my desk and say “just half an hour,” I’ll usually go longer. Whether it’s a desk in your bedroom, a coffee shop, or a nook next too the washing machine (whatever works), it helps to have a place you know is for business.

10. Stories
Whether it’s a new book by an author you love or a news article or your friend telling you about that time he saw Santa Claus in May, the world is full of stories. Maybe part of it is just how my brain works, but I’m constantly inspired by stories that have been told and all the potential stories hanging around us. And honestly, all of the above don’t matter at all without stories.

What are your writerly  must-haves?

(image 1: RL Hyde)(image 2: Thomas Hawk)(image 3: selva)

13 thoughts on “Thanks, Chocolate: Top 10 Writing Essentials

  1. I find that a bucket of heroin also helps. I am just kidding. I like the ten items, maybe except the music. Love itunes but I find that music tramples the internal rhythm of your own words. Best writing for me comes from your own rhythm, too easy to subvert what the music is telling you at times.

  2. A very timely post for me – I recently started putting together a playlist for the draft of the first novel. I think we all have a soundtrack running behind our own lives don’t we?

    I’d switch running for cycling and water for booze ;) Otherwise, I couldn’t agree more.

    • Usually the booze comes after the writing for me. Otherwise I end up dancing around the room instead of being productive. Also, totally wish I could set up a life soundtrack to play at all times.

  3. I need absolute silence, but I will use ambient music if people are talking around me. I’ve learned to get back into my groove quickly, because I am disturbed frequently. Either that or I have learned to tone out the person and just “yes” them so I can keep in my writing “groove” :-)

  4. I love Dropbox too – well, either that or Google Drive. Can’t seem to make up my mind yet. Ah, I wish I could have blocks of undisturbed time. Trying to write while having a full-time job and a kid is… the hardest thing I’ve ever tried.

    I don’t know what’s so special about running though, everyone seems to connect it to writing somehow. Maybe I should give it a try. Thanks for sharing :)

  5. I definitely agree with music and stories. I always feel more inspired/motivated to write after reading/watching/hearing a great story. I’ve never found running to be helpful with my writing, though. Like skysairyou, I’ve heard a lot of people connecting writing and running, but it hasn’t done anything for me. I started running to get into shape, but it hasn’t really affected my writing at all. Maybe I just need to get to the point where I can run without feeling like I’m dying :P

  6. Morning or afternoon writing – coffee.
    Late night writing – my string of calming little twinkle lights
    Any time day or night – water
    Any time day or night – enough distractions (FB/email/games/ezines) for those momentary lapses of creativity.

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