Did it work? Did I lure you in by using a number in the title again? Don’t worry, no clickbait here, I did actually buy 2 new things to help me write, and I love them dearly.
As writers we have no dress code, no mandatory equipment (except something to write with), no security clearance, no global headquarters to clock into every day, no colleagues waiting by our desk to welcome us in the morning… nothing but ourselves, our ideas, our skill, and the drive and discipline it takes to sit down and work every day on our stories and ourselves.
I find that daunting.
Some few of us have figured out that small things, either rituals or objects, can help signal to our brains that it’s time to work. Some authors don’t use any signals at all – they can just sit down and write – but alas I am not one of them. When the hours of the day stretch ahead and seem so amazingly open it’s easy to procrastinate or tell myself that it’s okay to goof off for a few hours if I don’t “feel like” working just yet. But then 3 o’clock rolls around and the dread of having to work into the evening and night whispers that “maybe it’s okay” to start fresh tomorrow. It’s not.
So I’m taking all the help I can get to stay on track!
For some people it’s a cup of coffee, for others a special desk, and for others it’s a specific kind of music. For me Green Tea helps, but I drink it all the time so it doesn’t necessarily scream to me that it’s time to write. My desk is lovely but I do other work here, too. And I am constantly listening to music so that’s out.
The first thing that helps me write was actually a present from my amazing girlfriend. Computer glasses!
I have to admit that I made fun of these blue-light blocking glasses for a really long time. I didn’t think they were anything more than a gimmick (jury is still out on that one) to make money from hipsters who don’t need glasses but want to look smart. Then I spoke to a friend at work a few months ago who had really bad migraines and was prescribed these glasses by his doctor. Voila, his headaches went away.
I thought: Hey. I, too, sometimes battle headaches from staring at the screen literally all day. And even more importantly, I, too, like to look smart!
Sara agreed that it’s better not to have headaches, and that I looked a little too stupid to be an author and needed something to fix up my look. A few weeks later, on my first day of writing full time, she had a present for me.
I can’t say definitively if they help with my headaches because I only get them once a week or so (which is normal for a person my age who drinks and goes out), but I can definitively say that I like the way I feel when I wear them. “Look good, feel good, play (read: write) good” – Every Famous Sports Athlete Ever.
They’re also a really important signal for me that it’s time to write. They’ve been my uniform for the last few months, subconsciously telling my brain and body that it’s time to work, not procrastinate. Instead of putting on a suit and going to the office, or putting on a cape and flying toward danger, I put on glasses that I don’t need to sit in front of a computer screen and make stuff up. Who is contributing the most to society in that situation? Nobody knows, it’s too close to call.
The second thing that helps me write was a present to myself from myself, and I got it for absolutely no reason other than that I have poor impulse control (apparently).
I bought a Cross Classic Century Satin Chrome BallPoint Pen. It was $15.39 on Amazon Prime. Is that a crazy amount of money? No, not really. But still, considering that you can get about 3,000 pens for like a dollar these days it felt like a splurge. Yolo, I guess.
Did I need this pen? Absolutely not. Am I happy I bought the pen? Absolutely.
I’ve never actually used a good pen before and the experience has been great – I won’t bore you by delving into a deep self-indulgent wholly-unnecessary and annoying showcase of description (Wow, the pen just glides across the paper like the finest of brushes, the ink a beautiful glossy black that reminds me of the night sky, it gives my words the weight of the thousands of other authors who have gone before me. Barf.) Even though I do 96% of all my writing on the computer, I do journal every morning and take a lot of editing/revision notes by hand in a Moleskin journal while reading on an iPad (the thick paper has a creamy satin texture that makes you hark back to the times when… Barf).
So yeah, I get a fair amount of use out of the pen, and I like it. Anything to keep me happy.
So there it is, two new things that have helped me write! I just need to buy 1,000,000 more writing aids and then I’ll finally be a bestseller author, right? … Right?
But to be real for a second after a relatively lighthearted post, you really do only need your brain and a sense of discipline to do whatever it is you want to do, whether it’s writing or something else. The harder the thing you’re trying to accomplish, the more discipline you need – it may feel like you’re going nowhere for a while, but you are, and it’s only once you get there that you realize it. So feel free to eschew any and all props/devices and just go for it!
That being said…
What kind of stuff do you use to help you write? Any guilty purchases that aren’t necessary like luxurious pens? Do you use coffee, music, a special desk to signal to yourself that it’s time to get to work?