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Wednesday Blogging: Stuff I need so I can write.

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Sometimes, I’ll read interviews with writers and they’ll be all, “Do you have a ritual? What do you need to get the creative juices flowing?” and the writer is like, “I need my Mont Blanc fountain pen and a glass of exquisite red wine and a Moleskein notebook beautifully collaged with inspirational photos that evoke the tone and mood of my characters and settings.” And I’m like, get the fuck over yourself, you sound like a total diva, and everybody knows you wear sweatpants and guzzle Diet Coke because we see your ass talking about it on the Twitter daily.

But other times, I’m like, what if everybody has a special ritual for writing? And I’m the only one who doesn’t? Because I am, as I have long suspected, not a real writer? Because I’m a fraud?

I really hope the other writers this week have similar answers to mine, or else I’ll look like an asshole. I also hope that none of them use Mont Blanc pens.

Here’s my totally boring and not at all original list of things I need:

Tunes. I make Spotify playlists for all the books I’m working on. I usually share these on Tumblr after the book comes out, but other times I share them in progress. Whatever, I’m easy. Anyway, the songs I add are sometimes songs with lyrics that remind me of plot points, some just reflect the tone of the story, and others are just like, “Hey, I heard this on the radio and I want to hear it several times a day.”

Here are the playlists for the projects I’m working on right now:

Sometimes, though, I just sit with headphones on and pretend to not hear people.

My Pax. As frequent readers may be aware, I’m not the healthiest person in the world at the moment. I use marijuana to treat my fibromyalgia and epilepsy. I almost typed leprosy, I’m so glad I caught that. Not… caught leprosy. I’m just making everything worse. I’m glad I didn’t accidentally make you think I had a horrible disease. Or… yet another horrible disease. There. Better. Also, marijuana is fun and relaxing as hell, so bonus for me, because I live in a state that allows medical use of cannabis. This little gadget:

Photo on 6-10-14 at 9.35 PM

a Pax, a hand-held, rechargeable, portable vaporizer, and it’s my very best friend on days when I’m in a ton of pain (like I was when I took this picture). It’s easier on the lungs than smoke, and doesn’t get your office as smelly (although I do still smoke sometimes). The Pax is a freaking miracle for cannabis patients and the recreational consumer. You can read about it here: Pax by Ploom.

A large canning jar full of water. Not a Mason jar or a Ball jar. I mean those really big two quart fuckers. I drink a lot of water, and I don’t like to get up to go get more. “But don’t you have to get up to go to the bathroom?” Ha ha, puny mortal. My bladder is like a freaking parade balloon.

A way to bribe myself. I’m the least disciplined writer I know. I hear about people who write ten thousand words a day and I’m like, lucky if I get two thousand and a blog post in. I have to bargain with myself by doling out little treats: “When you get to a thousand words, you can spend a half hour drawing.” “If you get this blog post done today, you can take the night off to watch your shows.” But, as is my parenting style, I don’t enforce these conditions and reward myself anyway. This is also why I fail at dieting.

Those are the things I need. That’s about it.

You can find out if any of the other Wednesday bloggers aren’t speaking to me anymore because of my Mont Blanc comment, check out their posts here:

Jessica Jarman • Bronwyn Green • Kris Norris Kellie St. James • Gwendolyn Cease

 

 

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32 Comments

  1. If I’m writing at home, I need — NEED — my house to be clean. Vacuumed floors, dishes done, kitchen table cleared or at least all the paper in neat piles. Other than that, I don’t really need anything. I like music sometimes and it can help, but it isn’t necessary. I like candles and I often enjoy sitting at my little desk in the corner next to the window. But those are perks.

    If I go to a book store or coffee shop, though, the atmosphere is all I need. I find the background noise soothing and inspiring. So I don’t need much. Just cleanliness. And that’s because I’m a Capricorn.

    June 11, 2014
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  2. I find it near impossible to write at home. There’s nowhere to sit except on the sofa with my laptop, and then I get backache and my cat sits on me. And we have a tiny house, so there’s no private space – I have to sit in the living room listening to my fiance playing video games. So I pretty much do all my writing at work at the moment, either before my job starts at 9am, on my lunchbreaks, or when my boss is in meetings. So basically all I need to write is to be at work, which is depressing now I’ve thought about it.

    June 11, 2014
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  3. I live for bribing myself to do shit.

    And as a side note, I really wish I had a parade balloon bladder.

    June 11, 2014
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    • Queen Mab
      Queen Mab

      I’m a nurse…I earned that parade balloon bladder on the job. 😉

      June 11, 2014
      |Reply
  4. Ilex
    Ilex

    Ah, fretting about whether one is a “real” writer — does that ever go away?

    Lately my writing “ritual” consists of: Get ready for bed. Pull out drugstore-bought, college-ruled notebook. Fill my fountain pen if necessary. Try to produce one lousy handwritten page of WIP (one side, not too ambitious) so I feel as if I’m accomplishing *something*. Tell husband to come back in fifteen minutes when he pops in thinking he’s going to bed. Snarl at characters who insist on feeling and doing things I hadn’t planned for, and appearing in scenes where they aren’t supposed to be. Finish page and call it a night.

    Such is the glamorous life of writers with day jobs. 🙂

    June 11, 2014
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  5. I actually went and bought myself a houseplant to put next to my desk. I only water it when I’ve actually, successfully done some writing. When the plant starts to look all sad and dramatic, it makes me feel guilty about skipping too many days in a row. Works great so far 😛

    My “ritual” is really a space – I put a chaise lounge in the guest room. I sit on my feet when I write, anyway, so a desk didn’t work for me – instead, I have my laptop and one of those little cushioned lap desk thingies and that works for me. I have my desktop downstairs, right in the middle of the kitchen, so I can check my email in between stirring things on the stove and yelling at my kids, but that wasn’t the best place to actually get work done 😛 Finding a cheap (secondhand) laptop seems to have made all the difference.

    June 11, 2014
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  6. I like to line up all the threatening letters, telling me that if I don’t pay my bills they will cut off my water/electricity/chocolate supplies. Then I sit in my bed (house is seriously cold, plus downstairs the cats get on the laptop and the dogs try to guilt me into taking them out) and write.

    Sometimes I don’t even write, I just sit, stare at the bills, and rock.

    June 11, 2014
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  7. Flo
    Flo

    The first paragraph had me laughing and then it continued–great post! I really think you need to write a humor book somewhere along the way.

    June 11, 2014
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  8. Desolace
    Desolace

    Oh my, I’m exactly this way with learning or preparing talks for university… (like, i’m preparing one right now! :D) I’ll always say to myself: “You can watch one video, and then you can finish the presentation, and afterwards you can eat that wonderful chocolate…..” now I’m sitting here, watching videos, eating chocolate and my talk is halfway done 😀 😀

    June 11, 2014
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  9. I need to be alone when I write, usually; if my husband is around, I just end up getting distracted. Unless he’s playing something like Skyrim, in which case I just listen to the epic adventuring.

    June 11, 2014
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  10. Nim
    Nim

    Thanks a lot Jenny. I thought I could read this while having breakfast (since that’s the only break I get from studying for finals… help me), but then I read this line.

    “I almost typed leprosy, I’m so glad I caught that.”
    And almost lose my breakfast all over my computer due to uncontrollable laughing. Thankfully, I managed to compose myself and continue reading…

    “Not… caught leprosy.”
    Ok. Yep oatmeal everywhere. Thanks.

    As for writing rituals, I always feel weird since music seems to be everyone’s #1 and I just find it distracting! I’ll occasionally listen to something to get me in the mindset for a certain scene/character what have you, but I turn that off right when I’m about to start. Also I like to have snacks and tea nearby while I write. The snacks can be counterproductive however, since I don’t want to get crumbs on the keyboard so I end up just munching away and not writing until later. I guess what I’m trying to say that I have no ritual and I like snacking.

    June 11, 2014
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    • Promise
      Promise

      Hey, snacks are awesome!

      June 11, 2014
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  11. Yes, I’m horribly offended. How dare you mock my Mont Blanc…

    Bribery! I should have put that. I do that all the freaking time.

    June 11, 2014
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    • Ilex
      Ilex

      Maybe I should have added that my fountain pen is a very inexpensive one. 😉 Nothing like a Mont Blanc. But I do recommend a fountain pen to anyone who likes to write by hand — the amount of pressure required to use one is absolutely minimal, saving me from writer’s cramp.

      June 11, 2014
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  12. I do playlists but I’ve never thought of putting them on Spotify. That’s a great idea.

    And no… no mont blonk pens here…. lorks I nearly typed ‘penis’ phnark.

    Cheers

    MTM

    June 11, 2014
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  13. Promise
    Promise

    I need the stress of a looming deadline. It also helps if I have an assignment and I’m writing for a grade. Yup. I’ll admit it: I can only write for school. This is why I have a BA in English, but, despite my 18 year-old dreams, don’t live in Provence and do not make a living writing profound literature (not books, not novels, literature, dammit!). Yeah, my 18 year-old self was an idiot. I have lots of ideas, I just don’t ever get them on paper (or in a Word document). Heck, I have had an idea for a freaking awesome novel in my head for over a decade, but I’ve written like, 3 pages of it. This is why I am, at 36, in nursing school after having tried my hand at 6 different careers and being a complete non-starter as an author.

    The one thing I used to be able churn out without being assigned to write was poems, but since I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety and Panic Disorder and Major Depression and placed on meds, the pool of misery in which I lived that drove me to write dried up. So, yeah, I really am one of those people for whom creativity went hand-in-hand with mental illness. Considering my life completely sucked before Effexor came along and lifted the grey fog, I consider this an acceptable trade-off.

    In sum: I need an assignment and/or mental illness in order to write.

    June 11, 2014
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    • Ange
      Ange

      Not that I’m an aspiring writer or anything but if it comes to any sort of writing I DO have to do, such as newsletters or marketing copy I’m the same. I can’t seem to physically get the words out of my brain until the deadline is about three minutes away.

      June 12, 2014
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  14. Renee J
    Renee J

    I put the kids to bed, then I watch the previous night’s Daily Show and Colbert Report online. Then, I write. I might get 200 words. On weekends I might write more.

    June 11, 2014
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  15. TayciBear
    TayciBear

    I don’t have a ritual either. I just write wherever, but I do need my white out and my moleskine notebook that I write in.

    June 11, 2014
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  16. M
    M

    Generally I write by hand with a good pen that doesn’t cause handcramps (lately, that has meant fountain pens, though all of my fountain pens together don’t approach the price of a Mont Blanc).

    I find I’m less creative but more productive when I’m on a word processor (so it’s good for revisions and NaNoWriMo, but not my choice for initial drafting ). I’ve been thinking about getting a typewriter to see how I like that.

    I either need complete silence or muddled background noise (like that in a cafeteria). If I can make out a conversation clearly or if I’m listening to music, I rarely get into the zone.

    I also write on napkins at restaurants, in programs, on the backs of receipts, and on any other material ink will stay on when I’m struck with good ideas unprepared, though I do usually have *some* paper with me wherever I go.

    The above only counts for creative writing. For academic writing (which is still creative, but, at least in my world, also comes with deadlines), I can and do write in every kind of situation but those that incvolve music. Music is wonderful, but writing and music do not go together for me.

    June 11, 2014
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  17. Gwen Cease
    Gwen Cease

    I don’t even know what a mont blanc looks like. But I do sit around in a fabulous gown as I stare out the window of my tower suite pondering the universe. 😉

    June 11, 2014
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  18. the-great-dragon
    the-great-dragon

    One of the reasons I love your blog and feel like I relate to you is because I have a physical disorder. I’m the opposite though, where I need uppers and stimulants (because marijuana would make everything so much worse) so I have this regiment of stuff I take just to get through the day. And I definitely need those, otherwise I get absolutely nothing done.

    Self-bribing’s a good technique. I feel like I should try doing that, but I tend to do this thing where if I want something, I just go for it. So I’d probably reward myself beforehand just for, you know, intending to do something productive.

    June 12, 2014
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  19. Flo
    Flo

    I have a question Jenny–I’m not all that familiar with the use of marijuana for pain, but as someone who also suffers from fibromyalgia, I’m curious as to what exactly your body’s response to it is. Does it actually help with the pain, or is it more of a distraction kind of thing? Unfortunately I live in a state that doesn’t permit it, but I m interested in just how it helps. Mine is fairly well controlled, but when I have a flare up, just take me out back and shoot me.

    June 12, 2014
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    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      Some of it is definitely distraction, but one of my biggest issues with fibromyalgia is the tightening of the muscles surrounding trigger points. I get so tightened up that I’ve had to go the ER because the pain is like an 8 (Bronwyn Green can tell a story about that, LOL). Marijuana helps me relax my body and reduce that pain. But that’s just how it works for me. I’m not sure what it would do for symptoms like RLS or neuropathy. I still have IBS symptoms associated with fibro, it doesn’t seem to take care of that, but I’ve heard people say that it works for them. It really depends on which strain you use, too. My caregiver grows mostly Moby-Dick and Lemon Haze, and those seem to give more of a full body effect rather than other sativa strains, while still giving you the distraction buzz.

      June 12, 2014
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      • Flo
        Flo

        Thanks for the info! That sounds miserable, glad that I don’t have anything like that with mine. I mostly suffer from the “mystery” pain, IBS and brain fog, although I’m finding out more and more things that they are discovering are related, it’s one of those “oh, maybe that’s why?!” The one thing that drives me nuts is the jabs that feel like I’m being electrocuted, especially when the nerve does it over and over again.

        Glad to hear you’ve found something that helps 🙂

        June 13, 2014
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      • Sophie
        Sophie

        I know some people who have used cannabis to treat Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis, and whilst it did help with the pain, they felt the biggest benefit was that it reduced stress and that helped reduce the frequency and intensity of the attacks.

        I suffer from chronic back pain to the point that I have very limited mobility and I spend the majority of my time lying on my side in bed. I have been told that Cannabis could be very beneficial to me but, other than the legality issue (which is pretty unclear in the UK), I would be concerned about the effect it would have on my Depression. Have you found that your Depression is worse or that you have bad periods more frequently since you starting using the drug as a way to treat your pain?

        June 13, 2014
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        • JennyTrout
          JennyTrout

          When I first started, it was an issue, but I was also on citalopram and I’ve learned since that SSRIs and pot do not mix.

          June 13, 2014
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  20. Michelle
    Michelle

    LOVE THE PAX

    June 12, 2014
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  21. zee
    zee

    I don’t have a writing ritual. I do shift work (though I’ve gone from McDonald’s to selling shoes part-time! Less soul-crushing and more time to write) and on my days off where my boy’s at school, or in the evenings after his bedtime, I get on my laptop. My ritual, if there is one, is:

    -put on mindless TV. Something I’ve watched a hundred times before, like Cake Boss. Do not put Supernatural on, because then I’ll be watching Dean and not paying attention to work. Supernatural is a reward.

    -open my laptop, check Facebook, twitter, and emails. Reply to anything that needs replying to. Maybe get sucked into a conversation.

    -do at least a sentence of any of my WIPs. More if possible.

    -check recent notifications.

    -grab a snack.

    -write a little more.

    -repeat.

    If I’m lucky, I can write a lot before checking Facebook. I’ve slacked recently, but normally I manage about 12k in a week. My best writing day I did 7.5k. And I was convinced to use scrivener rather than word to write everything, which really helps. I normally sit in our lounge next to whatever toys my son has piled on the sofa, but today’s kind of nice so I’m in our conservatory, trying to write. Managed 559 words in an hour so far. It’s not just you!

    June 13, 2014
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  22. I appreciate you sharing this article post.Much thanks again. Really Great.

    July 7, 2014
    |Reply
  23. Billy Mumphries
    Billy Mumphries

    I love The Pax too but you have to try The Ascent! It is by far the best portable vape around IMO. You can read a full write up on it at personalweedvaporizers.com Great blog!

    December 14, 2014
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