by Ashley Lister
This is a list of the five things that I think every writer needs to have in order to start working as a creator of fiction.
1. Post Cards
I use post cards for every project. Most typically these are for brief character descriptions, so I’m not skimming backwards and forwards through a MS to recall eye colour, hair colour or other important body details. It’s only a small thing but, without them, I’d lose hours to searching for this information and there’s a strong chance I’d lose the thread of what I was saying.
2. A Things-To-Do List
A list of all those things you need to do is essential for everyone (not just writers). Start the morning by deciding what you’d like to accomplish by the end of the day, write all of those things down, and then tick each one off after it’s achieved. These lists can be expanded to include weekly goals, monthly goals, or even annual goals. My current TTD List includes the directive to write a chapter on the current WIP, record a chapter of a forthcoming audiobook, and update information for a newsletter.
3. An Online Presence
Admittedly, FaceBook is a time vampire. Twitter is a seething pit of potential depression that can drag a low mood into the pits of hell. And no one knows what the fuck is happening on Tik-Tok. But an online presence is useful for every writer for two reasons.
Primarily, it gives a writer access to readers: an opportunity to tell them about new ventures and other ways for readers to experience the writer’s work.
Secondly, it allows a writer to meet colleagues, share ideas, learn about new markets, find consolation and support and generally feel like a professional in a professional environment.
4. An Exercise Regime
Writing is not the most physical of occupations. My FitBit is programmed to remind me if I’ve not walked 250 steps in an hour so, when the alarm sounds, I get off my backside and make some movement. Because writing is a sedentary occupation I try to get to the gym each morning before the start of the day and (weather permitting) I’ll take the dogs for a walk at some point during the day so my muscles don’t get a chance to atrophy. This isn’t my way of bragging about my physical condition: it’s my way of saying it’s important for writers to take care of their physical well-being as well as their mental well-being.
5. A Notebook
Paper notebooks are very useful. I’ve got dozens of the things scattered around my house filled with observations, ideas, notes and other important details. I also use the notebook apps on my phone to make reminders about things such as plot points, ideas for poems, details I need to include in a story etc.
Have I missed anything? If you think I need to add something to this list, I’d love to see it in the comments below.