5 Things Writers Should Keep on Their Desk
"Writing can be f*cking cruel."
I’m of the belief that writing can be a cruel process. Beautiful, yes. Therapeutic, yes. But still cruel. A good writing session can take you on a journey you weren't prepared for; leave you feeling drained, confused, lost, hurt, or even a bit empty. I think writing is one of the few activities were you are constantly forced to put your soul through the wringer, to face your emotions again and again and again. It can take a lot out of you. I'm an editor and a novelist so I spend the majority of my day writing. My house can get claustrophobic, so I try to lug my laptop to other locations to write. But I do think there's a distinct comfort that comes from writing at home. I tend to do some of my most honest writing at my desk (ironically I do the most raw writing from my bed). I've found that my environment plays a huge role in the quality of my writing. I believe in appealing to the senses. Writing is an internal thing that I believe must be balanced by appealing to the external senses. So I gathered up a list of a few things I keep near me while writing to help create a successful session - zt
A shot of something strong to wake your senses and make you feel alive. I go back and forth on my opinions of the stereotypes of writers, but the old adage that writers drain themselves in whiskey in order to remove writer’s block and inhibitions? I kind of like. I guess there's something dark and cynical to it, and I'm always here for exploring darkness & cynicism. And while I’m not suggesting you fall by the wayside during every writing session, I am wholeheartedly in support of a shot of something strong to keep momentum flowing.
(2) Excess Lighting
I have written to the point where my eyes burned, which, I believe, is the reason for my shitty eyesight. This may be a more practical item, but nevertheless I include it with the firmest of recommendations. Horrid eyesight, eye aches, and headaches from straining your vision may seem to be the price you pay for intense writing sessions, but believe you me, they are avoidable. Wearing glasses and popping aspirin may seem like the hallmarks of a writer, but let’s not glamorize it; having eye issues is shit, so get proper lighting.
(3) A book by an author who inspired you
The physical copy, not the ebook. There is something therapeutic about holding a worn book between your hands, and feeling the flicker of the pages beneath your fingertips as you search to locate your favorite passage. Regardless if you know it by memory, seeing the words printed on page and reciting them once more drums up an irreplaceable kind of adrenaline.
(5) Something that calms you
Sometimes writing takes you to places that are hard to come back from; other times it evokes memories better off forgotten. It is for these reasons, amongst others, that I encourage the inclusion of something to help bring you back to be placed on your desk. I have a few things - such as an ivory cross I'll rub between my fingers, and the frame of my the first cover story I ever wrote (glancing at it is always reaffirming).
(4) a Place to jot things
It doesn’t have to be a notebook, or even a piece of paper. Jot things on a chalkboard, a dry erase board, a piece of cardboard, a tissue, the back of a brochure, or anything able to hold the ink of a pen. Some ideas are too large, too fast, too sacred, to be typed to a screen and saved upon the cloud. Typing something out, and writing something out exercise two separate types of creativity. And while I may preach about the detrimental effects of a cluttered space, I do believe there is such thing as a writer’s clutter; an array of papers and knick-knacks that helps spur inspiration and breeds a certain level of comfort.
I know I said 5, but honorable mention goes to standby music. I know some people like to write in complete silence, but long periods of silence can be deafening. Like I mentioned before, writing can take you to places that are hard to come back from, music helps that transition. (I go back in forth between a healthy dose of background noise, and the quiet hum of solitude). Currently I'll run either 6LACK'S Free Black album, or producer youknowtre's Soundcloud mix (favorites - Let Me Feel, Young & Lost).
I'm still figuring out my process, but these are the things that I've found make for a successful writing session. Again, everything is subjective. Writer's are crazy and superstitious, so we all have our methods.