Lucy Vee has a fun posting on her blog Write Here, Write Now about the things she needs and uses to assist her writing. [It's worth reading just for the anecdote involving the postman - no wonder he always rings twice]. That got me thinking: what do I really upon to help me get through the writing day?
Coffee: four mugs of it a day, one every two hours or so. Too much coffee is not good for the system, the imagination or the teeth. I like strong, white coffee - no sugar. [You notice when you ask people how they like their coffee, nobody ever takes sugar anymore? Hell, I don't think we've even got sugar in the house.] I've got special mugs I use while writing, but that's all about superstition, not need.
Post-It Notes: the second best accidental invention ever, bettered only by champagne. Post-Its are the writer's friend, the perfect place to keep short notes, phone messages, random words and phrases, potential titles or story springboards. Used to be my monitor was edged with dozens of Post-Its, now most of them reside on last year's wall planner. Among my current favourite notes in search of story: Game of Consequences; Dirty Requiem; The Rotunda That Loved Aubrey; Amish Buying Crack; The Kindness of Stranglers; and Avenged Sevenfold [I think the last is a band name, but still a cracking title].
Yellow Legal Pads: Another great writing resource, where dialogue can be scribbled, plot points parked for later use and thoughts extruded. Somewhere writing on yellow is easier than writing on white, don't ask me why. Plus the pages are perforated along the top, so you can rip a page out. My only complaint is a lack of hole-punched circles down the side, that'd made legal pads perfect.
Soundtracks: I do my best writing to movie soundtracks. I've got a few favourites I'll run through iTunes to evoke particular kinds of stories - Backdraft for action, blood and thunder; Last of the Mohicans for danger, yearning and fighting; Little Children for dread and churning; other favourites include The Lives of Others, The Last Valley, The Lost Prince, Aliens, City Hall, Enemy at the Gates, Leon, and The Shawshank Redemption.
Collins Concise Dictionary: still the quickest way to reassure myself about spelling. Spellcheckers are all very well, but sometimes I'll convince myself a particular word should fit a sentence and want to check its definition as well as getting the spelling correct. Plus my Collins has lots of random words that prompt ideas and strange assocations.
Closed door: I write better with the door closed. It makes the room smaller, boxes me in, forces my imagination to take flight. I suspect I'd write very well in a monastry. I have written in coffee shops, on kitchen tables and inside cars [a little drive-by prosing] but a small, enclosed room works best for me when it's time to crunch some words together.
Other essentials: a pen for scribbling notes, highlighter pens for picking out key texts in reference material, my iMac G5, index cards, my Klappe chair from IKEA and the internet. The telephone is mostly just a distraction, though I try to have one meaningful conversation a day on the phone, to remind myself there is life outside the writing room.
So, what gets you through the day as a writer?