Monday, April 16, 2007

How do you get in the mood to write?

Saturday's Guardian excerpted passages from the just-released How I Write: The Secret Lives Of Authors, edited by Dan Crowe with Philip Oltermann. I was amused by the ways some well-known authors prepare for writing sessions.

Nicholson Baker likes earplugs:

Some years ago I bought an industrial dispenser pack of 200 pairs of Mack's earplugs from Mostly, though, I buy them from the drug store. Recently, Mack's began offering them in orange, which is less disgusting than white.

I can sit anywhere, in any loud place, and work. Everything becomes 20 feet farther away than it really is. The chirping, barking, jingling cash-drawer of a world is out of reach, and therefore more precious.

You must have a good seal. When you unstick your thumb from a jammed-in plug, your eardrum will make a tiny, silent cry of pain, like a word in Arabic. Then you know you have a good seal.

Douglas Coupland keeps writer's block at bay by gobbling Baker's milk chocolate chips:

Without these chips, there is no work. It's that binary. I keep them to the left of my keyboard and I eat maybe 50 or so medicinally once a day.

The one sad thing that happened as a result of this is that I no longer enjoy the taste of chocolate - my brain has reclassified it as a medicine and, frankly, I wish I could take chocolate pills and not have to taste it any more.

Jane Smiley needs lots of hot water:

Nevertheless, when blocked, I have always had recourse to the same remedy - water. Bath, hot tub or shower, it never fails. I sit, I think. I am stumped. I wish the phone would ring. I sigh. I go into the kitchen and rummage for something sweet. But no - when I sit down in my chair again, still blank. So I go into the bathroom and turn on the water. I disrobe. I step in. It's hot, almost hotter than I can stand for about 10 seconds. Within moments, I know what to write next. But I don't get out. As long as the water flows, I know I won't forget, so I stay in.

I was so charmed by these excerpts and others that just now, I ordered the book.

I suppose this will sound fairly trite, me being a romance writer and all, but to settle my mind and ease into the creative mode, I like to surround myself with pretty things like fresh flowers and scented candles. I also like to switch on some good music (while I don't always write to music, it's a great mood-setter) and enjoy a cafe latte or a pot of Earl Gray tea.

What works for you?

1 comment:

Gabrielle said...

Love the sound of that book, thanks for the heads up.

For me, it's yoga first, then a refreshing shower with something invigorating--The Body Shop's satsuma scrub is great. Then I tune into KIFM smooth jazz online, light a candle (currently hooked on Yankee Candle's Ginger Citrus), turn off email, make sure the desk is clear, and away I go. Oh, and because my writing area is in my bedroom, the bed *has* to be made, or I'll soon start to think about taking a nap!