I’ve never needed a lot to write. Or at least it doesn’t seem like a lot to me. I need:
- My own space. A familiar, comfortable place where I can go every day. I don’t write well on vacation or at somebody else’s desk, although I valiantly try (my production is generally slightly less than half what it is at home). Although I can adapt to a new space relatively quickly, it can’t be a new one every day.
- My own computer. With a regular mouse, not a roller ball or a laptop ball.
- A chair that’s reasonably comfortable to sit in with my wrists higher than the keyboard.
- My thesaurus and dictionary within reach.
- Relative quiet. Music is OK; somebody talking softly is OK.
I think that just about sums it up.
I used to poo-poo people who needed a particular place to write. A knew somebody who went to St. Thomas for a week and wrote 200 pages and then they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) write another word unless they were overlooking the beach. Now I’m more forgiving. Whatever works for you, go for it. The creative process is unique and fleeting, so if you have a solution, good for you.That’s not to say that I don’t secretly think you’re a prima donna for needing a beach house to write in. On the other hand, you may think I’m a prima donna because I don’t write well in somebody else’s space.
Some people can only write first thing in the morning; by 10am, they might as well quit since they’re not doing any good anyway. Others are night owls, and the juices don’t flow until it’s approaching the bewitching hour.
Some people can only write with a pencil on a legal-sized yellow pad.
What, are you crazy? You’re going to HAND WRITE an entire novel, and then what? Have somebody else type it so you can edit it? Do it yourself?
OK, I don’t understand those people. But that’s the way all novels used to be written. War and Peace, for example. And not even with a ball point pen. And not only that, but Tolstoy was working under the additional handicap of writing in Russian. Man, I’d never get anything done if I had to write with a fountain pen in Russian.
But I sort of understand. The mechanics of getting words out of your head and onto the paper mustn’t interfere with the process of the words forming in your head in the first place. If writing on a PC does that, well it sucks to be you. Grab that pen and paper and get busy.
I did all of my early writing before the days of the personal computer. I learned to type in 7th grade–we actually took a class called “typing,” and we had to type 35 words a minute on an old manual Royal typewriter to pass. That’s one of those machines only found in museums today where a bell rang when you got near the end of the line and you had to reach up and hit the return bar to slide the carriage back to the left margin. We used to correct errors with a typewriter eraser, since neither correction tape nor White-out had been invented yet.
Shortly after, my family upgraded to an IBM Selectric. Weighed about 40 pounds, but a spectacular device as long as you didn’t have to haul it around. I used that machine for years and loved it, particularly once they got around to inventing correction tape.In those days, we actually wrote “drafts.” Typed out a version, went over it to improve the wording, typed out another draft, went over that to correct mistakes, typed out a final copy. Took a lot of time, but a lot of things got written than way. Beat the heck out of writing with a pencil.
Some people have to listen to music to write. Sometimes only Bach will do, or Pink Floyd. Others have a particular pair of slippers that must be worn.
I say, if it works, go for it (except maybe the pencil and yellow pad).