What do you need to be able to write?

Some people need absolute silence. Some need mood music. This guy in a workshop I once took needed a two-liter bottle of Diet Coke and a free weekend. Another fellow workshop attendee said he got up at 5 am, prepared a travel mug of coffee and took a long walk. Without out that ritual, writing was hopeless. Everyone has their own habits, I guess. I began this post thinking that I required few things to be able to put in a good day’s writing, but the more I think about it, I suspect that’s not so true:

•I write best in the morning.
•I generally require coffee to be productive (though it’s a fine line…too little or too much, and I can’t write anything.).
•I need relative silence, or, if there’s noise, it needs to be fuzzy and in the background. Like the din of a coffee shop.
•The only music I can listen to while writing is jazz. I’ve tried classical and other stuff, but no go.
• I am useless without my MacBook. Writing on other people’s computers generally trips me up.
•From a more practical standpoint, a memory stick is indispensible. I carry mine on my keychain, a habit I started while writing my thesis….The idea being that if my house (and beloved MacBook) caught on fire (or whatever calamity) while I was out, I’d still have all of my writing backed up, right there on my key chain.
• And finally, the point of this post: I work best in my own space. By this I mean 1) that I cannot write with others infringing on my space — for example if someone sits too close to me in the coffee shop, or Billy is in the room with me at home (perhaps this is my only child upbringing coming through), and 2) I work best in a space that is, in some way, mine. Which is why getting an office when we moved into our house this fall was so great. And why I am feeling so discombobulated now.
I decided last week, rather suddenly, to redecorate my office. Though I have been imagining my new, improved office for some time, so I suppose it wasn’t as sudden as it seemed. In any case, I spent the weekend repainting my old crappy furniture, and now the office is a mess of dropcloths and paint supplies and reeks of paint fumes. All of my office stuff — books, papers, art supplies…the things that make the office feel like a writing home — are stowed away in the closet and in the guest room. And now I am typing at the dining room table, which isn’t nearly as comfortable or as fun as being at my big desk in the office. It’s worth it though…I am only half done with my painting plans, and already it’s a completely different, more me kind of room. It’s brighter and will be more colorful when it’s done.
Which can only make for a better writing environment.


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