This week I welcome multi-published author and editor, Faith Bricknell Brown….welcome, Faith!
If you read the title and thought that writing companions are various handbooks and reference books you are correct. However, in this case you’re also wrong. How many writers need something to step into the writing mode besides paper, pencils, pens, electronic writing gadgets, typewriters, how-to books, and all the related implements? Are you scratching your head and wondering where this is going?
A cup of coffee or something to drink is a necessity for some of us to write. Why does it seem that where there is coffee (or tea) there is also a writer? A writer’s comfort food, perhaps? Is it the caffeine? Maybe the aroma of the brew in our workspace stimulates thoughts and ideas? Do we need the sensation of warm ceramic in our hands between typing sprees in order to gather our thoughts into something coherent?
Some writers smoke while they type and drink coffee. I once had a writer friend tell me that when she quit smoking it took her weeks to learn how to return to her writing mode. Imagine not being able to write due to the fact that you have quit smoking! Lighting a cigarette and placing it in a nearby ashtray set the mood for this writer. She soon learned to keep a jar full of Dum-Dum Lollipops on her desktop, and whenever the urge to smoke hit, she unwrapped a sucker. The Surgeon General warns that smoking is hazardous to our health, but has he ever once considered what it does to the publishing industry?
Another writer told me that he has to have music blasting while he works. One day it may be country music, another pop, and yet another day the taste for classical may set the mood. Some of us find household confusion a reliable companion. One writer complained he couldn’t get any work done with the kids yelling and the TV blaring. Once his wife took the kids to the mall he discovered that the silence seemed louder than the chaos!
Typewriter noises are a comfort to some writers who have worked for years using that method. Converting to a computer had one friend asking advice on where to obtain typewriter .wav files so that she could adapt it to her MS Word program! Still, silence is a best friend to many writers who can’t produce material unless there is total quiet.
The Internet is a comrade, too. This may strike some writers as odd, but I know many novelists and freelancers who get into the mood to work by checking and writing email, visiting favorite websites, or participating on bulletin boards. For many, it’s simply a matter of reading online newspapers and magazines. Yes, I am guilty of a morning Net feast. After reading and responding to email, I check my web groups, and then I’m off to my online journal or my print journal where I get ready to write by composing a daily entry.
What about writing chums who breathe? Mine is a Chocolate labrador who takes up residence behind my desk chair or sprawls out across the camper floor (the camper is my private work space) while I work on my laptop. This is a comfort to me, (unless she suddenly distracts me by barking at a car that pulls in the drive and scaring the hell out of me), and stroking my pet’s ears when my fingers take a break from the keyboard keeps my hands busy as I ponder new aspects for a story or article.
My office window serves as another needed companion. A rolling field covered in round bales of hay and surrounded by trees is special to me. It’s a visual stimulator that I find enjoyable and entertaining when I need an intermission from the computer. I never know when a big buck will wander out to eat grass or a flock of turkeys will emerge, and it’s not uncommon to see a big cat or a coyote. Oddly enough, I find that I produce some of my best material on rainy days, reaching high word counts. For some reason I find the compulsion to write overwhelming on such gloomy days. If interruptions prevent me from creating prose, I turn into a grouch and suffer creative withdrawal.
Writers have a menagerie of indispensable companions. Whether they’re living or inanimate they’re a necessity for us to crank out words. There are no real answers for why writers develop particular habits and strange writing tools, but maybe these peculiarities serve as our security blankets or simply prove to be a useful routine.
What is your writing companion?
Visit my How to Avoid Writers’ Hell books for writers in the how-to section at www.wildchildpublishing.comor stop by www.freyasbower.com and look for my pen names of Zinnia Hope and J. Emberglass.