NOTE: Don’t want to be a Deb downer, but just want to acknowledge the date, and that it’s a hard anniversary for many of us, myself included. So I’m keeping things light here. Hence the penguin!
This week on the Ball, we’re sharing our writerly must-haves — necessary objects and other things we need to get the whole writing thing done. I always find these lists so fascinating, because every writer truly is different — as you can see from the fascinating posts this week! Sharing my space with a fellow writer, my husband, I’ve seen these differences play out firsthand, and occasionally we have clashing “must-haves.” (He likes hot cocoa or mint tea; I need iced coffee or adraki chai.)
In any case, here’s my list!
5. A Deadline: As a journalist — and master procrastinator — I can’t get motivated without one. I need the pressure of the deadline, the seconds escaping me, the threat of that old monster, failure, breathing down my neck. An outside deadline (like one set by taskmaster Dhonielle) works wonders. But sometimes a self-imposed one just has to do.
4. Productivity Trackers! And of course, there’s an APP for that. Two, in fact, that I utilize whenever I sit down to work. The first is called Wunderlist, and it is truly wonderous! It let’s you create categories — mine include Life, Freelance, Fiction, Fun (yes, fun!) and CAKE (the company, not the dessert, although it would be fun to have a list just for desserts!) — and then set tasks within each category, along with a deadline, notes, and even an alert. Then you can sync the app across your devices, so you can’t escape your tasks! Whoohoo! The second app that keeps me on track is called Pomodoro, and it uses the tomato philosophy of doling out tasks in 25-minute increments, then offering a break. It rocks. Those concentrated 25 minutes are just enough time to chip away at a task before you need a break. And miraculously, sometimes I work right through and it’s two hours later. Amazing!
3. My Peacock Chair: Okay, okay, the aforementioned husband will note that I hardly ever sit in my gorgeous, peacock blue velvet chair when I’m working. (In fact, most of my writing this summer has happened at the coffeeshop around the corner, where iced coffees with raw sugar crunchies have been a constant, faithful companion.) And he’d be right. (Yup, at this very moment, I’m sitting across the living room — which is all of eight feet wide — from the chair, gazing lovingly at it from the fake brown leather sofa that I despise. My chai is nearby, always handy.) But I don’t need to sit in it. It’s what the chair represents that I love. The idea that one day, we will no longer be four people living in a one-bedroom apartment, and that I’ll have an office — like a whole separate room! — with a desk, and bookshelves, and yes, this lovely peacock blue velvet chair. It’s like a little piece of the future, right here, right now. And I love looking at it. (And occasionally sitting in it.)
2. TV. I know, I know. Weird. This is another thing my writer husband and I differ on. He needs peace and quiet to work. I need background noise, distractions — otherwise I go looking for them. It harkens back to my days at People, when I had the TV on all day long. (Hey, it was part of the job to be informed about the antics of Beyonce and Lindsay Lohan. But I digress.) Favorite light distractions include Days of Our Lives, House Hunters, and the Food Network.
1. Childcare. Let’s face it, as the mama of a four-year-old and a seven-month-old, without this, shit just ain’t getting done. Through this summer, I’ve been stealing an hour here, two hours there, trading off with my husband so we could both get some work done. But last week, Kavya started pre-K 4 (dual language, which she’s super-excited about), and my little baby started daycare. There was much weeping. And admittedly, it was all on my part. He’s doing fine. We’re doing fine. We’ll all adjust. But it will take a minute. In the meantime, I’m thrilled to have some breathing room, and a little bit of my brain back. Things are getting done. It’s amazing.
What’s on your writerly must-have list?