August 12, 2013

The Quirks And The Essentials That You Need When Writing

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What is the issue?

I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I’ve got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis. No, I don’t use a typewriter. Not in the beginning. I write my first version in longhand (pencil). Then I do a complete revision, also in longhand. Essentially I think of myself as a stylist, and stylists can become notoriously obsessed with the placing of a comma, the weight of a semi colon. Obsessions of this sort, and the time I take over them, irritate me beyond endurance. “ Truman Capote. 

I can only really wish that I were as cool as Truman Capote when writing, and in my perfect world I would want me to be having a cigarillo/cigar nestled amongst perfectly manicured fingertips, drinking dry gin martini’s all day whilst slamming away at my typewriter about past loves and heartbreaks. Unfortunately, I think I would alternately turn out to look like some weirdo, unconventionally young desperate housewife going through a quarter life crisis suffering from extensive lung and liver disease.

Writing is a whole procedure. I like to think that I am the average discerning human, but I’m pretty sure I am just plain out picky. I know what I like and how I like it, and if I don’t know then I won’t settle till I find it. 

I can’t just write, here, there and everywhere (however, when a brain surge of ideas come at me like a total ninja, that is a different story.) I can’t tell you how many times I get those whilst I am driving, which is consequentially very dangerous to be focusing on something other than driving and safety. 
I did however one time pull over to a McDonald’s car park and sit there manically typing away at my iPhone to get everything I had to say onto my notes before it escaped my brain into a unreachable abyss. Ninja brain surge’s aside, here are some ways that I believe are effective when it comes to writing.


There are several things that come into play when I like to ‘effectively’ write. ‘Effective’ writing for me, means working at a piece for about 10-12 hours in a day but really only working a good solid 2-3 hours within that time frame. This time frame also includes: frequent trips to the kitchen, constant refreshing on my social network pages (Facebook, Twitter, Mavensay, the killer – Instagram), replying to text messages, refreshing the New York Times, toilet breaks, irrational second guessing on writing material, cooking a full meal at inappropriate non-eating times, daydreaming, painting my nails and uncontrollably dancing to the music I have playing. You name it, any point of procrastination – I am there. I don’t really get it, I love writing, and so I’m not so sure as to why I like to run away from it. Over the years I’ve realized that for me it’s a mood and more so lately I’ve been able to tap into the ‘mood’ which has created a healthy writing work space for myself.

This is how I write:





Music

Music choice is probably the most pivotal accompaniment to my writing, as I literally place songs that would be the soundtrack to what I’m writing if it were turned into a movie. 






Beverage

I like an array of beverages whilst I write, water is always essential. Tea (mostly green tea) Caro/Ecco (healthy coffee alternative), red wine (a good merlot, cabernet sauvignon or pinot noir) I feel wine is mostly suitable for nostalgic, pensive and morose writing. 





Snacks/Food Options

Corn chips are always a good choice because in the ingredients it only states ‘corn, vegetable oil and salt.’ That makes me feel better about my lack of control when I eat them because there aren’t any preservatives and weird inconclusive numbers that don’t mean anything to anyone but we all know are bad.

Atmosphere/Environment/Ambience:

Day: During the day, natural light is a must. The weather is very reflective on the mood or style of writing. I like fresh flowers on my desk, the room has to be clean and tidy otherwise that’s another reason to procrastinate and clean, I also like to light a scented candle.






Night

I like having an additional lamp on with scented candles and a throw. 






Bed

Writing in bed is actually where I do most of my writing, although somehow I always end up in the strangest contorted positions after a long period of time which is apparently really bad for your neck and back according to my chiropractor, nevertheless I still continue to do so. I like having a lot of pillows, blankets, throws and a hot water bottle. 






Other

Cafes are probably my next favourite place to write.  Everything is bustling, I can eavesdrop on conversations, there is a high possibility that there will be cute waiters, good food and beverage – what else really?






Laptop vs. Leather Bound Journal vs. Typewriter vs. iPhone

I write on all four of these devices dependent on situation. I mostly like to compile all my writing in my leather bound journal. There is something about handwriting that seems so much more satisfying than anything else. The laptop is great for efficiency, sometimes finding that my hands can’t keep up with my thought process, which leads to illegible handwriting therefore fingertips are the way to go. Using the typewriter seems final, like there is no going back because there is no erase or delete button, this is great for final copies. My iPhone thankfully yet (sadly) goes with me everywhere, so it’s the most convenient device to jot down ideas that I can further develop when I have access to my other writing devices. 






Clothing/Attire Choice

Long maxi dresses, yoga pants, pyjamas of sorts, cashmere jumpers, bed socks. (Not all at once.)






Inspiration Periods

I usually find that the times when idea’s strike are during periods where there is nothing else to do but be alone and at peace. Primarily, long hot showers, bubble baths, driving, laying in bed not being able to sleep/not being able to get up and situations where I feel really emotional. 

As Hemingway says:

“You can write any time people will leave you alone and not interrupt you. Or rather you can if you will be ruthless enough about it. But the best writing is certainly when you are in love. If it is all the same to you I would rather not expound on that.”

Yes, I completely agree, Ernest.

Here are some additional writer’s quirks that I’ve included from some of my favorite writers:

“I sit in bed, my laptop resting on a blanket or a Notre Dame sweatshirt on my lap…The blanket/sweatshirt keeps the laptop from getting too hot and radiating my ovaries, which everyone knows makes your children come out with ADD.” Mindy Kaling
“When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day will hit again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.” Ernest Hemingway

Here’s to happy writing with whatever quirks and essentials that float your boat. TC mark

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Edana Isobel

Edana Isobel is a Sydney based writer, religious tea drinker and water connoisseur.

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