As everyone knows, the Boy Scout motto is "Be Prepared." (Turns out the Cub Scout motto is "Do Your Best." Who knew that?)
So I'm making a list of things a writer needs to have nearby all the time to be prepared. And to do their best.
- Something to write on / with. For tech-lovers like me, that means a laptop, though a regular peice of paper and a pen should work fine. I just can't compose on paper: I need the clickity click of the keyboard to inspire me. Thursday night, when my nine-year-old son, BoyD, tried a highly scientific experiment to find out what would happen when a foot wearing a sock collided at high speeds with a foot wearing a shoe, necessitating a trip to the ER for stitches, I took the time to grab my laptop on the way out the door. Just in case we were there forever and I was going to have time to write. It stayed in the car, since we were only there a few hours... but my husband still mocked me. What? Just because he has two fractured toes doesn't mean he needs undivided attention.
- A book. Sadly, this works a bit counter to the purpose of bringing along your writing materials, but what writer can survive without a book? If you only have five minutes of "down-time" you can read a page or two. It would take that long just to turn on the laptop. Thursday night, my husband and son ganged up on me and actually made me keep my book in my purse. Even during the long and boring period while we were waiting for the doctor to come and do the stitching. Even despite my repeated assurances that, as soon as I pulled the book out, the doctor would appear. (Books are magic like that.) It was torture, but I survived it. Harder to survive was that night when my husband forced me to bed at 11 pm by hiding said book before he went to the store. When BoyD woke up hurting at midnight and needed some mommy attention, I had no book to keep me occupied while I held his hand. Instead, BoyD helped me play a computer game. (Yes, the computer was already on--you try writing at midnight!) (No, I'm not addicted to reading. I can stop anytime. I just choose not to.)
- Imagination. This is for those times when neither of the above are available. You can't write, you can't read. You are forced to just sit there and look bored like a "normal" person. Doing nothing, for the sake of... solidarity? Good parenting? (I refuse to believe my children are benefited by mommy looking bored, but whatever.) Anyway, during these periods, you can foil them all by using your imagination. Figure out what is supposed to happen next in your WIP. Play "what if" by rearranging elements to see what would happen. Run through the plot looking for obvious holes. Or, hey, think up ideas for your next WIP. The sky isn't even a limit, here. (Now if only there were a good way to record all your great ideas as you come up with them....)
And I have another going-to-the-hospital memory to add to my arsenal for when something similar happens to one of my characters.
What about you? What things do you find essential to have on hand to support your writerly instincts? Chocolate? (Chocolate makes your book jacket picture look fat. So I hear.) MP3 player with your favorite tunes? (How can you write with that noise?) A quiet room all to yourself? (What? You haven't learned to tune your kids out? Need some tips?)