Monday, 1 March 2010

10 things that help me write

I've gone on thinking about those rules and think they would have been more useful if expressed as above. Here are mine:

1. Someone to read fiction aloud to, chapter by chapter, as I write it. In my case it's my husband, so he is very close at hand but any trusted friend would do.

2. Proximity to a kettle. My study is next to the kitchen, so it's very easy to make a mug of real black coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon (creature of habit)

3. An object that symbolises what I am writing about. It's not a fetish but a focus. Currently I'm writing a novel about Michelangelo's David and I don't have such an object. Must find one.

4. A supply of clicky-clicky biros that write black. Blue really disturbs me.I like Papermate flexigrip which I buy in sixes (though then they all run out at the same time)

5. A fast Internet connection.

6. A writers' group. I belong to "the other SAS" = Scattered Authors Society. We have a closed forum on which to let off steam, pass on news, give and receive sympathy for personal sadness, ask for and receive advice on many arcane topics. We also meet at least twice a year, some of us, and also have little local lunches from time to time. We never discuss ideas or "inspiration", hardly ever even technical writing matters but it's terrific just to know a group of people who don't have to have this insane way of life explained to them.

7. A subscription to the London Library.

8. Some close writer friends, a smaller group than the SAS, with whom I can talk career strategies, marketing etc. You know who you are.

9. A good night's sleep.

10. a regular supply of fiction both YA and adult, to read. I'm not at all afraid of "being influenced" as some tyro writers say. If you don't read you can't write. Oooh, I think no. 10 is actually a rule!


Lucy Coats said...

Yes--Things That Help Me Write are so much more FRIENDLY than those horrid old rules, which immediately made me want to go and do the exact opposite (even if some of them were quite useful). I am a rebel, it seems. My 10 helpfuls would be a little different, but not by much. Forinstance, I read aloud to myself. And I have technopoint pens. I just wish I had a Michaelangelo focus to send you. If only I were going to Italia, I could bring you a piece of Carrara marble, perhaps. Lastly, I do SO agree about the reading. It just MIGHT be a rule, at that!

Mary Hoffman said...

I'm going to Carrara in June but I need to focus big time before that! Thanks for the thought.

I'd be very happy for people to post their 10 helpfuls as comments here.

Unknown said...

Great list! I'm like Lucy, I read aloud to myself. And I need absolute silence and no distractions to write. And pretty coloured pens, turquoise is a good colour, to mark up edits on hard copy. I find it's helpful to cast my characters by finding pics of likely suspects to help me create visual references, and I couldn't do without the internet for research in particular helping to create a sense of place.

Mary Hoffman said...

OOh I meant to have Radio 4 as one of my ten! It will have to be the 11th thing because it's really necessary to me. Unlike Nicky, I can't work in silence.

LynnHC said...

I need to add mood music to the mix. And a collage of inspirational pictures. And a warm cat.

Mary Hoffman said...

Yes, yes, I meant to have a cat too! Will have to write 10 more things ...

Unknown said...

I like this list because it isn't the same ole stuff.


Nicola Morgan said...

Number 10 is one of Stephen King's rules, and I quite agree.

I also agree v v strongly with your first "thing" - although the way I word it is as a rule: "Read everything aloud, imagining that your audience consists of fidgety people who would rather be somewhere else.! It's definitely a RULE for me!

Jon M said...

I have to be warm...warm ...warm!

Kathryn Evans said...

What a fab list, here's mine!
1. Deadlines
2. Reading friends that write better than me.
3. Redbush.
4. Solitude OR a room full of strangers.
5. Index cards.
6. A proper keyboard.
7. Reading strangers that write better than me.
8. Reading strangers that write worse than me.
9. The faith of my agent.
10. The thought of never writing again.

Maria Padian said...

I like Kathryn Evans #4! In my case, that means either the family is gone for the day OR I'm in a coffeeshop w/ my laptop or notebook. Strange, huh?

I'd also add A Woodstove. I live in Maine, USA, and on those bitterly cold days it is lovely to work alongside a warm fire in the stove.

adele said...

My 10 things:

Peace of mind. I can only write if there's no real worry distracting me.

Radio. Five Live in my case, mostly.

A working laptop and good internet access.

A deadline. I've been working without one for this book which has gone on far too long.

A trustworthy agent who's a big fan. Essential.

Friends to support and commiserate. You know who you are. But not to read my work before publication. I'm not happy showing my work to anyone except my agent and my daughters.

The SAS...always good to have at your back.

Decaff coffee. Lavazza is good.

A supply of Weight Watchers Rich Toffee Bars.

Fruit in abundance.

Nicola Morgan said...

Jon M - ohhhh, warm! I need that too!

Unknown said...

Blimey this is wicked!

Stroppy Author said...

Oooh, this is good, Mary. Here are my 10:

1. fast internet connection
2. supply of decent coffee (either home or good coffee shop)or, if later in teh day, gin and orange
3. Radio4/Radio3
4. Mary Hoffman and Lucy Coats at end of broadband or phone line
5. distracting blogs, and twitter
6. [is vacant at present as the object of this need has withdrawn from the scene]
7. supply of favoured food of the moment (which changes)
8. deadline
9. sunshine
10. hungry children relying on income

Mary - I have a David prop; I'll try to send it tomorrow :-)

Mary Hoffman said...

OOh, I can't wait!

Glad that Lucy and I are essentials and not distractions. But, given 5, perhaps distractions are essentials too?

Katherine Langrish said...

My 10?

Possibly should start and finish with 'Don't buy a distracting, enchanting, wicked, toothy, plump little puppy.'

But it's too late for that!