Writing isn’t a choice. It’s a need, an urge much similar to the need to breathe. Denied air to breathe, you suffocate. Denied means to write, an author wilts like a plant in need of water.
Many writers require certain things to be able to write.
Some write anywhere.
A story can be powerful enough to demand attention regardless of time and place. Mine are rarely like that, but it’s easy for me to imagine an author holding his wife’s hand while she’s in labor, making a funny face like he’s eaten something he desperately needs to pass, shifting restlessly from one foot to the other, glancing around the room looking for an excuse and then carefully freeing himself from the wife’s death grip saying “I’m sorry honey, but I really need to get a couple of pages done.”
The urge to write is always there, but most often our muses demand to be appeased under specific circumstances which vary from author to author. Mine isn’t a particularly easy one.
I usually write in the morning or late at night. Stories are like waking dreams, and they come more easily when I’m close to sleep. I write on a laptop, rarely seeing the actual words. When a story takes hold, this world melts away, becomes meaningless. All that exists are the people in my head, characters made up of dream dust and disturbed memories.
Writing is a solitary sport and demands no spectators. I want peace and quiet when I’m writing. Unless -
Unless I’m travelling.
Moving to an unknown destination at violent speeds lulls me to a dreamlike state. In that state it’s easy to write even with other people and noise around. When travelling, I scribble my muse’s will into a notebook, blind to everything but the imaginary realm around me.
Alcohol works the same way. It takes off the inhibitor being a part of the waking world sets in between me and my muse, and allows me to hear her will as clearly as I was still dreaming. I have a little ritual connected with this particular feature, actually.
Whenever a new story wants to start unraveling, I take a fresh notebook, go to the nearest pub in the early evening, order a pint, open my notebook, and write the first two or three scenes.
It’s been like that with every book I’ve written, and I suppose it will always be so. For some unknown reason, my muse is happiest when I take her out of the house. During those moments, it’s not peace and quiet she craves, but the life’s of the people around us.
I work from home, and rarely see people outside my small circle. When venturing outside with a fresh notebook and a story leaking out of my fingertips, I need to see people I don’t know, people whose faces might be perfect for the story, people who have secrets hidden behind their eyes.
People with bits and pieces I can, if not steal, at least borrow from. It might be the way they smile that I need to take, the way they cock their head when laughing, the way they give me the evil eye.
Little things we usually ignore.
Little things are the things that seem meaningless to the story and often go unnoticed unless I go out and immerse in them. Little things to make the story and its characters live, breathe like they were more than dream dust.
Muses are funny that way. They need and need and need, but at the end of the day, the things they need aren’t that big.
A bit of peace and quiet, surroundings changing, a few souls to suck in.
Silly little things.