What do you really need to write? This question occurred to me as I was driving home last night. Unfortunately, I hadn’t set up my digital recorder so I pulled off at an exit and got it recording before I drove on. (It helps me to remember. Before I had it, I had to just, well… remember. It’s a great tool.)
This month is Camp NaNoWriMo again and though I am not participating this month it reminded me about reading Chris Baty’s No Plot, No Problem. It’s a really funny and enjoyable book. He suggests a bunch of things you might want to have handy before you start to write. There were some physical things like setting up your computer file, treats to reward yourself for keeping going, your favorite drinks, your favorite pens, pencils and notebooks, reference books you might want to refer to our use to jog your mind. It was mostly things to make you more comfortable and help ease the task. Some people write character sheets and plot everything out ahead of time.
Then there are intangible things like time, sufficient sleep to be coherent, quiet and space. But people have done without those time and again. (Though I do suspect that when people say they got up an hour early before going to work every day to write, they are largely getting sufficient sleep to suit them.)
I personally like a notebook or a bound journal and a really good pen. I use my laptop a lot. I have the Scrivener software but I haven’t actually used it, I use OpenOffice. I have recorded things on my little digital recorder and used Dragon NaturallySpeaking to transcribe the dictation. I use the Internet for research. I always liked Diana Hacker’s A Writer’s Reference for checking grammar and usage but more often I turn to Internet sources these days when I’m concerned. All of these are great tools to make writing easier.
I like a sufficient amount of sleep but I find myself creating things at three in the morning while I’m rocking my daughter. I like a quiet room and time to myself but most of the time I’m writing surrounded with people or at least while taking care of my daughter and being interrupted constantly for attention.
What really got me thinking about this topic was a blog post by a fellow writer. He said that he had lost most of his vision and would continue writing as long as he could see to do so.
My brain screamed, “Nooooo!”
Thankfully, another writer responded with what I felt – you don’t need your eyesight to write.
It might make it a bit easier but all you really need is your mind. Everything else is a tool to record what you’ve written and communicate it. Think about it. There is a great oral tradition that backs writing – storytelling. People made up their stories, practiced them and shared them. If that is all you can ever do then you are WRITING!
The point is we all have obstacles to our writing. Sometimes they are external and sometimes they are internal, but there is nothing that can keep us from writing if we really want to.
Randy Pausch, in Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, said that “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
So, what do you really need to write?