There’s a difference between enjoyable and essential. A few days ago I did a post on my favourite writing tools of 2017and yeah, I love them, but I don’t need them. People make a big deal out of things they say they need for writing, like a hot beverage and an intricate outline and a soundscape of a French cafe and a fluffy blanket (but not too fluffy) and a full moon and the blood of innocents and I’m sure that’s all great but I’m also pretty sure you don’t need all that either. When it comes down to it there are only two things you need to write.
- A way to get the story down
There. That’s it. Although, honestly, the first one is optional. When you have it, that’s great. Often the words will fly from your fingertips, oblivious to the world around. But passions can fade. Something will get you down, something from your life or a troublesome plot hole or a setback. Sometimes you’ll get writer’s block and the only way through is to get the story – any story – down until your passion returns. It doesn’t matter how. Chat to a dictaphone, type on your phone, tap away at a typewriter, scrawl in notebooks or use a laptop – whatever’s to hand. It might not be your favourite way of working, but at least you’ll be working and that’s better than nothing.
I’m not the sort of person to say you have to write every day because not everyone is physically or mentally capable of that. I’m the sort of person to say you have to write every time you can, which is more than you might think.
I’ve been having a… let’s say turbulent time in the past year and at times I thought I couldn’t keep writing in the face of such uncertainty. Once I loosened up and started looking for moments I could write, I started getting a lot more done. Ideally, my writing time is in the evening, using my laptop, in a bedroom that is peaceful and safe and warm. In reality, my writing time is in the moments snatched around my school and home life, perched in all sorts of uncomfortable places using my irritating phone notes or scribbling almost illegibly onto random paper. Often I don’t have any of my outlines, or hot drinks, or cherished peace and quiet. At first, I hated it. And then I realised it doesn’t matter. I get the writing done, and that’s what matters.
I’m not telling you to give up all your writerly comforts. I certainly don’t when given the choice. They make everything a little more fun, or at least bearable in the worst moments of writer’s block. I guess I’m saying you should try not to rely on them. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can only write under those specific circumstances. If you’re a writer, you can write whenever you need. Don’t limit yourself, or forget how well you can do. Maybe even challenge yourself, see if how you perform in less optimal conditions. You’re capable of more than you think.