This sounds like a simple question, doesn't it? I had a hard time when I thought about it. I came up with a list.
1) Minimal Distractions: When I'm writing, I don't want peace and quiet, I want loud music. This drowns out anything else that might distract me. I try to ignore e-mail, IMs, and the like and write like a madman.
2) A hint of inspiration: When I get the faintest inkling of inspiration, my writing flows faster than I can control. There's no lack of control, but it's tough to hold onto. If I get too much inspiration, I plot; just enough, I write; too little I read.
3) Feedback: I am a feedback junkie. Good, bad, or indifferent I must have feedback. The better the feedback, the more inspired I am to write (see #2). I have a group of test readers that all feed me some of what I need (one tells me how the work made her feel, one tells me how she liked it and what's gramatically wrong, one tells me what does and does not work in the story. The rest tell me their initial reaction). These people all fill a certain need and I am thankful for them all.
4) Acceptance: I've just started getting this in the form of sales. This is a biggie that I never knew I needed until I got it. Now I'm as greedy for it as feedback. :).
5) Time: Some day I'll find a 'cure for sleep' and I'll be able to write around the clock.
So tell me, what are YOUR needs?
April 15th, 2004, 11:55 PM
Distractions - Hell yeah. I close my bedroom door, the hallway door and try to block out the annoying buzz of talk or TV that still drifts through. I get narky when people walk into my room when I'm writing. They just don't understand the concept of 'train of thought.' Same applies to reading.
Feedback - It is critical to any writer who is serious about the art. If people don't find errors in my writing then I know they're not doing a good enough job at critiquing, because I know I'm still have a ton to learn.
Acceptance - Quite understandable, Maus.
Time - I think I'll have to sleep in the morning and write late at night, because I always get gems coming to when I'm trying to get to sleep. Also, I should buy a dictaphone so that when I'm out walking every day I don't have to memorise my thoughts and rush home.
April 16th, 2004, 12:04 AM
1) Same with the loud music ... my flatmates still manage to piss me off by making fun of me immersed in my own little world. But it does drown out everything else accept for the the relentless thump-thump-thump which your brain filters out naturally anyway. The good thing is, though, that it does get me into a rhythm with my writing so that, on a good day, I can pound out around 30 pages of half-decent stuff.
On the same boat, I close all instant messaging programs, banish the mobile phone into silence, and try as hard as I possibly can to ignore the people i live with. The loud music (recently bought high-quality headphones) helps a lot with that too.
2) My inspiration usually comes from taking walks around the area where I live. I recently discovered a great area nearby with a view of lush mountain ranges that I didn't know could be had so close the heart of the city. I usually take a notebook to write furiously whatever comes into my head when I sit looking out over the hills.
3) Feedback is great - but I prefer the honest kind rather than the standard "that was great" that most friends give. It would help to have somebody who likes what I write but honest enough to tell me what the hell is wrong with it. I found that reviewing websites like writing.com are absolute **** since no matter how much you review others, nobody bothers to do the same favour back.
4) Haven't sold anything yet, so don't know anything about acceptance *sigh*
5) I'm too lazy to go and find a real job, and curse the need for one, so I have all the time in the world - hence the ability to write 30 half-decent pages in one day.
6) Constant net access - It might be hard to find anything you want, but occasionally you can find some absolute gold that inspires you, or exactly what you were looking for in research. Getting involved in some sort of online gaming (for me it's MUDs which provide a wealth of storylines and people to interract with) for both relaxation and inspiration.
7) A great dictionary (a real big one, not online) - Writer's block? Flipping through the dictionary to find interesting words is the best way to break the block. It's like inspiration, only a little more structured.
8) Coffee and cigarettes - when my eyes start to hurt, either one of these gives me a chance to get away from the computer for a few minutes. Helps with the organisation of thoughts too.
9) A Digital Voice Recorder - don't use this as much as I should, but it's great for getting down those interesting thoughts that occur when nobody is watching (like driving in the car or sitting on the beach) ... if you're really determined, you can record it onto your computer as an archive :)
10) A pen and notebook - Why wouldn't you carry these around everywhere? Laptops are too bulky. Voice recorders can be a little embarrasing when you're sitting on the train. But a notebook is ideal to use anywhere and is the most versatile medium to get your ideas onto.
April 16th, 2004, 12:31 AM
My needs are pretty simple:
- regular slots of time
- sleep (I write a lot of crap when I'm tired)
- laptop (maybe not so simple)
- an understanding girlfriend
April 16th, 2004, 08:04 AM
1) Minimize distractions. When I get 'In the Zone' I turn off the cell-phone, turn off the TV and let people know not to bother me, then I close the door and open the window so I get some fresh air flowing.
2) Music. I always write with music coming from my various WinAmp playlists. I have several different ones depending on the mood and texture of the scene I'm trying to write, and I've found that it helps tremendously.
3) A little exercise. I've found that if I take a walk before writing, I get a lot more done and it turns out a lot better. For a lot of my action scenes, I get up and act out the martial arts before I commit it to the page, and this leads to some tighter stuff I think.
4) Feedback. It's hard for me to get it, as my website gets no traffic atm and the forums are empty, but I do have a few people on another writer's message board that keep up with my stuff and offer little nuggets of feedback. These definately get me over the humps.
5) Munchy food. Not like a meal, but 2 bananas, or some oatmeal cookies, or some garlic toast, or chips. Just something to pick on during those moments when I sit back and think, "Hmm.. now what?"
6) Understanding. This is the hard one. I live alone now, but before that I had roommates who didn't quite understand my creative process. I was constantly taking flak for being a weirdo, since I'd go shut myself in my room for hours at a time with music and nothing else. A few times when they came in to see what I was up to, they either got ignored or snapped at. So yeah, I picked up a reputation...
April 16th, 2004, 11:05 AM
Ditto on the music. For me it's usually Rush or Pink Floyd. :cool:
I've found that I can actually write pretty well in spite of distractions. I have to, my house is small and my 'study' also happens to be my wife's arts and crafts room. The music (with headphones) helps.
The only other things I really need are structure and vision. I can't write a novel without an outline. When I sitdown at the computer I need to know where the writing is going. I have a definate point A and point B in mind. I also have a notebook where I catalogue any good lines by chapter. Those get worked in; a little more structure.
If I can see the scene in my mind and I know where the stream of consciousness needs to flow I can usually crank out 1,500 to 2,500 words (even when my wife is standing behind me stringing pine cones).
April 16th, 2004, 12:06 PM
Um, let's see. I used to think I needed to be alone and quiet, but found out I can write in a crowded, noisy place. I just have to be not being talked to and allowed to concentrate in the noisy place. If I'm left alone, I can write. If my daughter and husband are in the house, that's not necessarily going to happen.
I can't listen to music with lyrics while writing. It distracts me. I can listen to instrumental music, and find that Baroque, which is suppose to stimulate the brain, works well, but I usually don't bother.
I don't like to write in the evenings or early in the morning. My energy is low then. I used to have to work a lot in the evenings, which probably helps with the aversion.
And I need time, like everyone else, time that lets me write while still dealing with other commitments sufficiently. I haven't quite got that worked out yet, so I'm learning to write in drips and dabs.
I like to take breaks when I write and get up from the screen and go to the bathroom or walk around so I can mentally work out what I want to write. Apparently, Isaac Asimov did this too, so maybe I'm not crazy.
I prefer to write on a computer, but I can write on pads of paper in bad handwriting. :)
April 16th, 2004, 12:33 PM
What do I need to write?
Understanding from my family is probably number one, and I don't always get it. It's hard for my daughter, and even my husband sometimes, to understand that when I'm the computer room writing I don't want to be distracted, so please don't come in and ask me something every five minutes! I'm actually thinking of putting a sign on the door so they know when I don't want to be disturbed.
I also live in the same house as my parents and kid sister so peace and quiet is at a premium. When I can get it, I'm thankful. Like others here I find it helps to put on music to drown out other noises, but lyrics distract me so I prefer instrumental when I'm writing. Movie soundtracks works well, or sometimes I listen to celtic music or classical.
No distractions, peace and quiet, what else? Snacks--your brain needs food too--and time. I find I write my best in the afternoon when I have lots of energy, but unfortunately I'm at work most afternoons or busy doing laundry or shopping or whatever. It's a challenge to carve some productive writing time out of each day at a time when I'm fresh. Usually I end up writing late at night after my daughter is in bed, and end up not getting enough sleep. Oh well, it's worth it! :)
Feedback is helpful too. It's really hard to find someone who gives good feedback. (All the time I was growing up, everytime I ever gave my mom something to read she said "It's very good." And that's it.) My husband is really great for that--he's honest enough to point out the parts of the story that really stink or phrases that sound awkward. I would like to find a few more people to read for me, but have yet to do that.
Okay, so besides my computer I need understanding, quiet, snacks, time, and feedback. Maybe I should ask for all those things for my next birthday. :rolleyes: :D
April 16th, 2004, 06:45 PM
A piece of advice we frequently hear is to devote some time to writing everyday,whether one is in the mood or not. I took that to heart, believing that if I want writing to be a career (albeit always a second one to the bill-paying one), I had to treat it just like a job.
So I managed to get my boss to let me work 9 - 6, and I spend an hour and a half each morning writing, and then a further hour at lunch on a laptop in the company lunch room (actually, about 50 mintues, given Windows booting up and shutting down...) I would prefer to write in longer stretches, say 2 - 4 hours, but like KatG I've learned to write in shorter spurts. So, I've made the time I need to get the writing done, and (barring being called in to meetings over lunch at work) I do it every day. Only way to ever get those doorstop-sized fantasy books done!
I find I need quiet to write, which is not a problem in the morning at home (my wife has already toodled off to her job by then), but the lunchroom is a problem. I put on a set of headphones, but not to music - I find I listen to the music and don't write. So I crank up the sound of a waterfall to drown out the talking around me.
Don't need food or drink, but those things (and the need to unwind tensed up muscles) are what generally stops me in those rare instances when I do get 3 or 4 hours in a row to write...
April 17th, 2004, 04:19 AM
Right now I need someone trustworthy who would be interested in dissecting a 10,000 word amateurishly written story that begins:
The faint beating of drums announced Raven’s approach. Kinnaq let the roasted ptarmigan drop from his mouth and hand into the stone ring that housed the fire pit.
Raven would kill him.
PM me if it sounds like a ring of hell you can tolerate.