I love top 10 lists. Yes, I’m one of those suckers. Fall for them every time. Then again, so do most people, so I guess I’m in good company.

Which got me to thinking this morning about the things I need in order to write. It’s a varied list, involving items both tangible and intangible. So here’s what I’ve come up with so far, in no particular order.

1. Coffee. Really, do I need to elaborate on this?

2. Time. Chunks of time. I really can’t write in ten minutes here, ten minutes there. Maybe an idea will percolate, or I’ll have a sudden inspiration I can jot down, but no real writing gets done in little bursts. I need quality pieces of time, uninterrupted. Can’t mess with the flow, yo.

3. Sleep. Okay, this might sound silly, but I do not operate well on little sleep. When I wake up from a restless or late night, it almost guarantees my morning is shot, as far as writing goes. Since I like to write in the a.m., that kind of takes the wind right out of my muse-y sails.

4. No drama. Sometimes, drama enters my life. Well, that’s great for my characters on the page, but if it’s happening to me irl, I find it extremely difficult to lose myself in my writing. Real time drama eats at me and sucks away my creativity. Hate that. Solution? Trying my best to surround myself with stable, sane, loving, drama-free folks! And not engaging in any of that drama if it shoots my way. (Although I may swipe an idea or two for my poor characters, haha.)

5. Backup. In several senses of the word. Backup for my files, heck yeah. I back up like crazy. External hard drive, Dropbox, email WIPs to myself. But I also mean backup in terms of friends and writing buddies who back up my vision, my writing dreams and goals, who believe in me. We ain’t got nuthin’ without some serious writing mojo backup.

6. Balance. The pieces of life often quit their smooth juggling act and all tumble onto my head in a most painful manner, all at once. The way I try to maintain serenity, some balance, is by my daily yoga practice (erhm, sometimes it’s a little less daily than I intend), getting outside, playing with my critters, taking time out for myself. In theory, I’d like to be able to write for 17 hours a day. But not really. Hence, balance. (Which, in the interests of full disclosure, I should point out is still very much a work in progress for me.)

7. Validation. Writers write because they have to, or so the common wisdom holds. I shall cry foul upon that in greater detail in some other post, some other day. For the sake of this list, let it simply be known that if I don’t get strokes in terms of reader comments, reviews, sales, and all of that, I don’t feel as secure that what I’m writing actually means something to someone besides me. I like to know someone out there, somewhere, wants to keep reading my words. It’s like coffee for the soul; keeps me going right along.

8. Computer. Back in the day, I swore by old-fashioned longhand writing. Found it charming. I still do, sort of. But I can type a hell of a lot faster than I can longhand, and I can save multiple copies all over the place without having to put the only copies of my stories in a fireproof safe. Well-working techno tools make me very happy as a writer. Let’s not even start on the research and interpersonal connection joys of the Internet, which also make my inner writing child sigh with happiness.

9. Pictures. This might sound a little funny, coming from someone who uses words. But having photos of what I think my characters look like, the places they live, the things they do–all that spurs my creativity like nothing else. (Well, aside from the maelstrom of must-write-this-right-now! ideas that sometimes is my brain.) I like and need to have photos up around my writing desk to help me picture everyone and everything.

10. Deadlines. Okay, I’ll admit it. I can procrastinate a little. Ahem, a lot? Deadlines are my saving grace as far as my writing goes. It’s a little harder with my fiction than with my freelance article writing, which has solid deadlines imposed by other Forces That Be (aka editors). Thus far, my fiction is self-published, so all deadlines are (gasp, faint) self-imposed. Which means sometimes they’re a little flexible. But refer back to #7. Readers wanting the next story are a pretty good reason for me to make solid deadlines!

Anyone out there got anything? Do you write? Do something else wonderful and fulfilling that requires certain elements in order for you to successfully do it? Share, please. I’d love to hear.

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