What Do You Need to Write?
No, not “What works will bring you instant fortune, more money than your CPA knows what to do with, and undying fame?” but “What conditions and tools do you need in order to produce words?
I was hunting around in growing concern (OK, quasi panic) because I couldn’t find the box with my extra note pads in it! I absolutely have to have the nice notepads with the special margins and headers on them, in white, lined, 8.5 X 11 inches, two-sided. Where was the box? Did I have any more half-used pads with a few pages left? What about my nice pens?!?
To make a messy story short, I found them where I had moved the box after I tripped over it trying to get to the back of the closet. Yes, I have more notepads (Levenger, if you really want to know), and I ordered more pens plus found a box of my every-day pens. I can now go on a trip and write/take notes/take research notes.
I know. Cheap notepads from the dollar store, keep the good pens* because they fit my hand and work better than the el-cheapos do, and suck it up. I can do that, I have done that, and I do that when I need to. Or even better, sit down at the computer, open a word processing program, and write (saves the step of converting from Alma-scratch to typed document).
Looking back, I’m not all that far away from the romance writer a number of people were quietly giggling at a year or two ago, who described her writing routine as getting out of bed, taking a warm bath, dressing in a peignoir (really fancy nightgown and robe set), sitting down at her writing desk with a view, and only then could she put words on paper. The mental image is probably not entirely fair to the writer in question, because when I first read about the ritual she needed to get into the proper mindset to write her books, I saw everything through a soft-focus mental lens with “Tara’s Theme” playing quietly in the background.
Can you train yourself to write anywhere, on any surface available (that you can take with you. Removing the sheet rock from the wall is frowned upon in many jurisdictions), at any moment? Yes. Sarah Hoyt write part of a book on a spare roll of toilet paper. I’ve taken story notes down on the back of a deposit receipt, a shopping list, in my little idea book, and credit card receipts (I don’t recommend the polished digital printer ones). My muse does not wait for the optimal time or place. Then I move the ideas to regular paper, or to my idea notebook (Moleskine that I got at a going-out-of-business retirement sale.) Often I write story cores on notebook paper (my fancy notepads) and then later put them in the computer.
But you do what you can and what you have space and time for. Five minutes at the kitchen table while one child naps and the other one is quiet? Ten minutes at the tire store (or while getting the oil changed)? During lunch at work? While supervising someone else’s study hall if you are done with all of your own classroom work? A blessed hour while Dear Beloved Spouse takes the kids (or dogs) to the park? You do what you can with what you have.
No matter what you might read on the Internet or in how-to-write books, there is NO one true way. Writing desk or kitchen table, five minutes waiting in traffic, at a lovely desk with a view and in your special writing outfit, on a couple of boards in the corner of a barn or shed…. Hey, if it works, and it doesn’t cause a safety hazard, it’s not wrong. One a laptop or desktop, on fancy or plain notepads, with pencil or pen, dictating into a recorder while hiking (mind the wildlife, please), just write. Get the stories down so they can be polished a little and then released into the wild.
*I love Pilot-brand pens, especially the Uni-ball micros and the Hi-Tec-C .03 felt-tips. Yes, my writing is tiny, unless I’m using my beloved retractable-nib fountain pen (that I really do need to get repaired.)
Shameless Author Promo: If you are interested in fantasy with a middle-aged protagonist who doesn’t have any magical powers or talking dragon friends, you might try Merchant and Magic. Tycho Rhonarida just wants to make a living and avoid trouble. Alas, the gods might have other plans.