Reflections In Hindsight

Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it's closer than it appears

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Game Fuel

Posted by Ben Erlichman on October 20, 2011

Today I want to ask a question: as a writer (or creative type), what spurs your creative process?

I’m talking about everything here. Environment, food, beverages, other people, music and other sounds, temperature. All sorts of things.

I’d like some comments on your ideal setting for doing your writerly duties. I’ll give mine as an example, but I definitely want to hear from you as well. In other words, what’s your game fuel?

When I write, I like things a certain way, as do most of us. My ideal setting is as follows:

I like writing on the computer via a keyboard. I’ve transitioned to writing on my iPad using a wireless bluetooth keyboard which works smashingly, and by the end of October I will have completed an entire novel for the first time on my iPad. I like that because it means that even when I’m not in my ideal setting, I can still whip the iPad out and write.

I also enjoy having music playing if possible, preferably music that I’ve heard before and am familiar with. My tastes in writing music are varied and diverse–I like everything from 80s hair metal to jazz to techno/electro to blues to instrumental classical and beyond. Different songs inspire me different ways.

I prefer (and this is a big one) to write alone. I really, really don’t like people looking over my shoulder, and I find that I’m less distracted with fewer people around. Sure, sometimes I get distracted anyway, but solitude helps. Writing in airports or public places is nebulous–usually I’m alone, but there are lots of people around for me to watch. That’s both good and bad when I’m writing, as I get some inspiration from them and their behavior, but they distract me sometimes too.

Sometimes I like to have a snack or a beverage nearby. I wrote a previous post extolling the wonders of Mountain Dew and its effect on my writing (it really, really helped me get going), but since I’ve gone caffeine-free, I can no longer rely on its magical powers to inspire me. Now I like to have some orange juice, some cold water, or some other tasty drink on-hand while I write–if I’m not too lazy or too involved to go to the fridge and get it. Snacks don’t matter quite as much, but I do enjoy my string cheese, so I munch on that from time to time as I eat.

Temperature isn’t a big deal either. If it’s a bit cool, I put on a sweatshirt. If it’s warm, I take the sweatshirt off, etc. That doesn’t bother me much.

I typically write at my desk at home. I set the iPad and the keyboard in front of my iMac (which I use to play the music) and type away. my back is to the window, which helps from distracting me. I need an upgrade in my chair, but it doesn’t bother me too much. I also enjoy writing late at night, as I’m something of a night owl.

So what about you? When do you write? What does the scene look like? Show me.

-Ben

6 Responses to “Game Fuel”

  1. It seems I can’t start my writing time without Diet Dr Pepper, though I’ve tried to go without it. Sometimes I can sub in a good hot tea. I write at my desk, sometimes I use dragon to dictate. I have a laptop with an external monitor hooked up so I can look at research while writing. My back is to the window too. I hate being cold so there is a heater under my desk. I too, like to write alone. I have written in coffee shops, but I have to wear headphones and listen to classical music to get into my world. I’d like to write outside (when it’s warm) on my porch, but my laptop screen reflects everything which makes using it outdoors impossible.

    I don’t snack while writing because if I start it’s an excuse to get up and get more. :)

  2. Hmmm- talked about this at the lunch you missed on Tuesday :). I’m an empty-nester…something that will hit home for you in another twenty years or more. I like it quiet. Not even music any more. Just the refrigerator defrosting and the clock ticking and the house settling. I get lost in time so I forget consumptive fuel. Crawling into setting and character’s head, thinking about what they’ll do next, where they’ll go, how they think about the dilemma lights my creative fires. I love interacting with other people, other writers, hearing what moves and drives them, what they like and dislike about life in general, helps the process. I write at the computer in our living room, like a control center, where I can take care of other things that come up–like laundry, watching for Susie the mail carrier, and stirring supper when the smoke alarm goes off.

  3. Easy: 1) Prayer. 2) Coconut macaroon coffee. 3) Lost in writing in our loft, where it is quiet and I can focus. Time flies when things are in place.

    P.S. No snacks! I hate sticky fingers on a clean keyboard! ; )

  4. Karen Nolan Bell said

    I find I can produce more creative juices if my situation is just right. That means I sit at my desk, in my sturdy chair with my keyboard in front of my oversized monitor. I usually have classical music playing in the other room (over the fancy sound system). I use the music to mask outside noises like dogs barking and the kid who loves to bounce his basketball for hours in the cul-de-sac. Most important is my glass of fresh ice tea. I am a Southerner, after all. Since I am aging way too quickly, I must be close to the bathroom because I delay leaving my inspiration of the moment until the diuretic refuses to wait longer. I also must be warm. The blood thinners tend to make my fingers and toes turn to ice and slow down my productivity. Last year I traveled to another location to get atmosphere for my book and it took 3 days to adjust to the location. I just couldn’t get comfortable. Either I’m just getting too old or I’m too picky. But, that’s what works.

  5. Most of my writing has been done at the computer keyboard (either at my desktop computer, or on the couch with my laptop). However, other environments work as well. I wrote three novels partly while driving and dictating to my wife. Or I might jot down a scene on a pad while waiting for my car to be serviced, or for the doctor to get around to seeing me. I might think up a scene while doing something else, like working in the yard, and write it out in detail later. I don’t usually play music while writing, because I have studied classical music form and composition and might be distracted by analyzing the musical structure of the piece, or noting the orchestration. Of course, any music or broadcasting with words would be a distraction.

  6. Lori Lipsky said

    I always carry a notepad and pen with me, but most often I sit at my desk, my messy desk, and write at my iMac. The room is quiet, but I can look to my left out the window at our front yard and beyond for a bit of sun or a scenic pick-me-up. If my daughter is home and making noise, I can just shut the door now that she’s 19, though she feels free to interrupt whenever she wants. My husband works and travels quite a bit, so when he’s home, I don’t get much writing done–I prefer to hang out with him. When I don’t seem to be getting work done at my desk, I pack up my iPad or my laptop and head to nearby Middleton Library. They have a designated quiet room on the lower level and these days it works for me. Once a week or so, I meet friend Robin at the library and we sit together in a room and after a bit of talking we write for a couple of hours. Once in a while I tag along on business trips with my husband and write in the quiet hotel room while he is away.

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