Anyone who has ever tried to write a book will know that it isn’t easy – for several reasons. Sometimes the problem is that you just can’t find the time to write, sometimes you might be hit by an especially crippling bout of writers block, where the words are in your head – somewhere – but you can’t get them to your fingertips to type them.
One thing that can help you to be the best author your can be, is to create yourself a lovely little writers space. You don’t need a big, fancy office to build yourself somewhere perfect for writing creatively.
Check out my list of things that help me write. Some are vital, some are helpful and some are just to make a sometimes stressful space that little bit more habitable.
You’re going to need something to type on
I’m sure it goes without saying that you’re going to need a computer of some sort to write your book on. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Mac or a PC, but I do strongly recommend laptop, just because it allows you the ability to take your work with you if you need to, whether it’s away for the weekend or just to the kitchen. MacBooks are always great, especially if you’ve got an iPhone/iPad. I find it really helpful that my notes are accessible on all of my devices.
Do your homework
I am not going to sit here and tell you that I have read this book from start to finish. However, what I do like to do with this book is open it up on random sections and swot up on whatever it lands on. I do this frequently, learning something new every time. Consuming it in small bursts makes what is essentially a big-ass text book like the ones you had to read at school and swore you’d never read again, an easily digestible fountain of knowledge.
Put on your uniform
Back when I was single, my outfit of choice for writing in was a onesie. Sure, they’re impractical if you’re planning on peeing at any point during the day, but they feel like getting an allover body hug and that’s what you need sometimes. However, now that I live with my boyfriend and I have to at least pretend I’m a sexy adult human female, my uniform of choice is a tracksuit. You want to be comfortable while you’re working.
Name your babies
At first, you might think I’m crazy suggesting you buy a book of baby names. Sure, your book is your baby, but that doesn’t mean you need a trip to Mothercare, does it? No, of course not, I haven’t fully lost it. When you’re trying to write a book, nothing will halt your horses quite like struggling to name a character, and you’re most likely going to need to name a lot of characters.
Drink caffeine responsibly
Being a writer and consuming enough caffeine to keep you awake for six weeks seem to go hand in hand, and I get it, because it makes me feel alive. So, if you’re going to be chugging the stuff, you may as well get yourself an awesome writer-themed mug. I like this one that says ‘Please do not annoy the writer, because she may put you in a book and kill you’ because it’s true, that’s what I do, or I give them book-chlamydia but I couldn’t find a mug for that.
Don’t forget to drink water though
Caffeine might make you feel alive, but you need water to actually stay alive. It can be easy to forget, or to not realise that you’re thirsty, when you’re in the zone, but it really is important that you drink plenty of water across the course of the day. Feel encouraged to drink more by buying a pretty water flask. I recommend a BRITA fill&go, because not only do they look cool, but they come with replaceable filters that purify tap water.
When you’re at school, nothing makes you feel quite so fancy and important as a fountain pen. When I first found out I had a publishing deal, someone bought me a mad-fancy Parker pen and all I’ve used it for is signing contracts. You’re a writer, you deserve a nice pen.
You can never have too many notebooks
I say you can never have too many note books, but I’m pretty sure I have too many notebooks. The problem is that I buy such beautiful ones, it seems a shame to ruin them by writing my weird thoughts in them. When you’re planning a book, you’re going to be a making a lot of notes. It can help to dot notebooks around – in the office, the kitchen, the car – so that when you think of something at an inevitably inconvenient time, you can jot it down. Keep one next to your bed for those brilliant thoughts you have as you’re falling asleep, that you will probably forget by morning.
Start a diary
No, I don’t mean like Bridget Jones, although I suppose that is one way to write a book. What you need is a life planner, so that you can manage all of your life commitments along with all your author ones. Your brain is going to be taking on some much extra work and – after a real life assistant – a planner is the best thing you can have.
Make things stick
Sometimes you can be mid-chapter when you remember that you need to buy milk – what are the chances you’ll remember later? This is where sticky notes come in handy. They’re not just great for reminders though, they’re great for planning too. I plan my chapters with a series of sticky notes – which is great, because you can move them around.
Keep your cool
It makes me sad, to think of all the delicious cups of tea and coffee I never got to enjoy because I let them go cold. I don’t think I’ve finished a warm drink since I started writing, actually. It’s easy done when you’re busy – you just forget about your drink. I always struggle to find that small window between hot as lava and cold as ice anyway – help your chances by buying a USB cup warmer.
A weight off your mind
Your desk is in need of something practical, yet beautiful. Something you can admire while it is doing its job. When you’re printing out manuscript after manuscript with your fan on full blast, your window open, or your cat on its usual rampage, a paperweight can be one of those simple little things that can save you a whole lot of hassle.
Let there be light
When you’re writing, your environment can make all the difference. Good lighting is important for writing – not just for selfies – and, ideally you want a light you have maximum control over. I love Philips Hue lights, because you can not only control the strength of the light, but you can control the colour too. So it’s great for countering eye fatigue, with the added bonus of changing the colour of the room to match the scene you’re writing.
Live in a fairy tale
Make your room a real life fairy tale with the simple addition of fairy lights. I love low-lighting when I’m writing late at night, and there’s something just so cute and comforting about fairy lights.
Clear the air
Spending a lot of time in one room can be a difficult thing to do. You’ll get sick of the sight of the place, and everything that is in it. You’ll start to notice how the line where the wall meets the ceiling isn’t quite straight, or the patch where the wallpaper doesn’t meet up quite right. Make your room as pleasant to be in as possible. Making sure you room smells nice can make a huge difference.
Writing a book and getting it published is stressful and anyone who tells you that is isn’t is obviously very good at making stuff up and should probably write novels for a living. If you know that it’s going to be stressful, you can get ahead of the anger by buying a stress ball. When things are tough, don’t punch a hole through your screen, squeeze a ball.
Suck on this
When you write a novel, you don’t just gain a book to your name – you’ll often gain a good 7-10lbs in weight too. The problem is that you’re sitting still and you’re snacking on whatever you can get your hands on, whether it’s because you’re hungry, stressed or not eating properly. It can be easy, when you’re sitting at your desk, to smash your way through a family sized bag of crisps, and those ‘share bags’ of chocolate buttons aren’t usually shared with anyone. You want something to snack on that isn’t too bad for you, that takes a long time to eat so you don’t eat too many of them. Lollipops are great because a little lolly goes a long way, and you can suck on one for a while when you’re working. Just remember to brush your teeth.
Keep some form of exercise in your office by having an exercise ball around. Counteract your lack of exercise – not to mention those aching muscles from sitting in the same position typing all day – by doing a little gentle exercise. Use it to practice yoga or simply sit on it while you work to improve your posture.