Last week, I was delighted to read a hilarious blog post by Delia Cabe on the Boston Globe’s web site called, “Ten Must-Haves to Write a Novel in One Month.” Her fun take on NaNoWriMo inspired me to put together a list of my own.
I started to put together my list of must-haves based on favorite quirks from famous writers. Victor Hugo had a valet who took away his clothes until he finished writing. The amazingly prolific Mark Twain wrote in a gazebo. According to the Academic Productivity blog, Anthony Burgess would force himself to write 1000 words a day, 365 days a year. When he had completed his word count, he would reward himself with a dry martini at one of his favorite bars.
As I started to compile my list of must haves, I did not need to look far. Here’s what I need to complete a writing marathon:
1. Cuddly, walkable dogs. Up until a year ago, we did not own dogs. But last Thanksgiving weekend, we adopted Muffin (below, the Bichon on the right). In August, we adopted Sophie. I’m not sure how I wrote a word before I had my muses. They have become an essential part of my writing life—taking me on daily walks and sitting under my desk as I write.
2. Ambient music. While I prefer to write in complete silence, I’ve learned to appreciate the sounds of my son playing electric guitar as loud as he possibly can. Maybe it is because I am writing a book for teens or perhaps my hearing is going—but the loud, rocking music is inspiring my NaNoWriMo project.
3. A Brainstorming Partner. My daughter is a constant source of fun, chocolate, and ideas. This year, she has become my brainstorming partner. As vice president of her fourth grade class, she has the ear of the people I’m writing for. She is always willing to let me know what mischief a 4th grader might get into.
4. Eat, Laugh, Love. In our house, my husband does the cooking, tells the jokes, and reminds me to slow down and take it easy. Need I say more? Without my husband’s food, fun, and encouragement, I wouldn’t have the energy to begin (or finish) a NaNo project. Thanks, honey!
5. Read, Chat, Read. When I am writing for days on end, I often need to talk to friends who know books. I always find good friends, good conversation, and just the right book at my neighborhood bookstore, Boswell Book Company. (If you are in Milwaukee, please stop in!)
When I look at my must-have list, I am filled with gratitude. As Melissa Ferrick sings, “Everything I need is right here in my hands.”
Your turn. What is on your must-have list? Leave your ideas in the comment section below. I will send three of you a postcard to encourage you during NaNo!