Nicholson Baker likes earplugs:
Some years ago I bought an industrial dispenser pack of 200 pairs of Mack's earplugs from earplugstore.com. 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?