1. The oldest, ugliest trousers imaginable. Mine are fleece and were at one point, I believe, actually my brother’s. Extra points if they’re saggy in the behind and knees. Double extra points if you dare to wear them in public, on errands, around people you know.
2. A vat of coffee. The stronger the better. My current brew is called “Jet Fuel.” For real.
3. A door that closes, although if you have children this won’t help you very much. Children will burst through said door and interrupt your very lovely thoughts with: art projects that are still damp from school, arguments, head injuries, and/or requests for an inappropriate pet.
4. Time. But again, if you have a family, you are unlikely to get any. Just as you are beginning a crucial new chapter, any number of disasters will occur. Your husband will call to inform you that he has invited six guests for dinner, or you will remember that you have a dental appointment in four and half minutes, or the toilet will spontaneously overflow, or you will remember that it is your day to do playground duty and all you have to wear are your writing pants.
5. Delusions of grandeur. It helps to take five minutes off from your masterpiece to daydream your way onto the NYT bestseller list, Oprah, and the Today show. Bonus points if you include a fantasy of come-uppance involving at least two ex-boyfriends, your gradeschool rival, and/or your in-laws.
6. A high tolerance for a messy home, take-out dinners, and mail piled up to your elbows on the kitchen counter. Because when you’re on a deadline, everything else has to give.
7. A way to disconnect the Internet.
8. And, finally, may I recommend a healthy dose of perspective. If that fails, try chocolate, the darker the better. Take two and check back with your work in the morning.