Like many writers, I have a list of “must haves” in order to set my creative writing skills into full motion. Props, if you will. I’m constantly trying to perfect this list by work-shopping different factors. Time of day. Texture of blanket. Kit-Kats. Bra/no bra. I’m convinced that there is a science to manipulating the most plentiful environment for writing, and I AM GOING TO FIND IT. But in the meantime, here’s the foundation of what works for me.
1. LAPTOP. Obviously. My pen and paper days are way over.
2. POWER CORD. Its the bastard moment of all bastard moments; when the “7% battery life remaining” window pops up, right smack dab in the middle of my provocative yet heart-wrenching essay Heinz vs. Hunts: The Battle of the Brands. To which, I hurl my champagne glass across the room, grab my mink stole, and march to the door, screaming at my pillow (i.e. my literary agent), “Dammit, Phyllis, how many times have I told you?! No interruptions. I’m an artist! I can’t work like this!!! I’ll be my fort.”
3. CUSHION. You know that great saying, “more cushion for the pushin”? Yeah, that has absolutely no relevance in this. I’m just trying to communicate that I need a couch or bed where I can sit Indian-style. No desks. Gross. …oh, excuse me. Criss-Cross-Apple-Sauce, I believe is the PC term. Which is just a huge blow to the Native American culture, don’t you think? I mean, would it have hurt to keep that term alive? I’m not even sure my kids know what an Indian is.
4. SUGAR and/or CARBS. I have, what the medical community refers to as, a “fat ass” (pronounced: făt ăs). This is because I use food to make me feel better during moments of extreme insecurity and/or hunger. So, when I write I always keep some sugar close by. A coke. A cookie. Ice cream. White carbs. I’m not proud of this, no. And I don’t even think it is necessary (or helpful) to my process, but until I get it through my thick skull that food is not a quick fix for life’s problems-I will continue to feast in the moonlight of my 1AM laptop screen. Splurge of choice: Kraft Mac’n’Cheese laced with Slap Yo Mama Cajun seasoning. Honorable Mention: Small Muscle Punch from Smoothie King.
5. TIMELINE. For every book I write (haha, and by every I mean TWO), I keep a timeline. Particularly because I like to write non-linearly. This item brings as much convenience with it as it does inconvenience, simply because it plays out like algebra. For every new scene and/or character development “detail” I write, I have to cross-check against the timeline. And sometimes that puts a kink in the chain. I’m not gonna lie. Its annoying to write non-linearly. But my hope is that its the opposite of annoying for the reader.
6. INTERNET. Its not like I can’t write without the internet handy, its just nice for research or the occasional brain fart. Like, “is unimpassioned a word?” “I need to check my timeline. What month is Labor Day?” Etc. Etc. The internet is like the chocolate milk on the lunch tray. Its just cool to have it.
7. AMBIENT SOUND. No louder than the muffled sound of a television behind a closed door. I just need it. If its too loud, I can’t think. If its too quiet, I think too much. Its as simple as that.
8. SOMETHING DECRATIVE. A novelty item. Whether its my Immaculate Heart of Mary coffee mug or the $5 “Managers Special” bouquet of pink roses at Kroger, I need something extra in my life. Something pretty. Something just for me.
9. SOCKS & A HAIR TIE. My only wardrobe necessities. I have bad circulation and my feet get cold. Like I said, fat ass. Also my neck gets sweaty when my hair is down and it makes me feel surrounded. WHOSE THERE?! Oh. Its just you, hair.
10. A CLOCK. Otherwise, my life will fall victim to my impulsive writing schedule and I won’t get anything else done. Contrary to popular belief, most writers have actual lives. Hm. Who knew.
So that’s my list. Its not bulletproof yet, but I’m working on it. Night.