I’m a writer at heart. I’m obsessed with the romanticized images of a writer hunched over a Remington or a Royal, punching the keys in time with a Miles Davis .45 playing in the background. Honestly, if money were no object, I’d write on a typewriter and pay someone to digitize my work for me: I’m just that sold on this image of being an author.
How I Write: The Book
I have no idea how the book How I Write found its way to the top of my reading list, but I’m so glad it did. Edited by Dan Crowe and Philip Oltermann, the book profiles a ton of bestselling authors, asking them what trinkets, talismans, or good luck charms they have to aide them in writing. Sounds pretty cool, right? I think most creative people have a process or a setting or a “security blanket” of some kind, so it was very interesting to hear from successful authors what they use.
I won’t spoil any of the book for you, but I will say that it was a very relaxing and inspiring read. Each author who was asked to contribute was asked to send in a picture of their item and a piece of writing to describe the item and how it came to be so important to their process. This made for an easy read as each “chapter” was short and disconnected, meaning that I could pick the book up, read six pages, put it down, and not pick it up for another day or two without hardly losing anything in the interim.
Every time I read a bit of the book, I walked away eager to write. In fact, there were several times when, while reading about the experiences of others whom I’ll never meet, I felt a real connectedness, as if we were kindred spirits, bonded through our passion for writing. Powerful stuff and well worth your time.
How I Write: My Process
I started this post off by talking about myself and my overly romanticized image of who a writer is, so I bought it might be fitting to end this post with a bit of how I write.
For me, it starts with coffee. Drinking it, of course, but just as important are the sounds and smell of coffee as it brews. In fact, I would love to be able to brew a fresh pot ever hour, whether I’d finished the previous one or not.
Secondly, there’s the computer. I hate it…for writing. It feels so unsparing. That’s where Noisy Typer comes in to save the day by turning my boring, just-like-the-rest MacBook into an old-fashioned typewriter. It helps me feel like what I’m doing is older and more mature than it probably is.
Thirdly, it’s the music. Jazz, almost always. There’s been a worship album that’s been helpful lately, but jazz is my constant, especially Miles Davis, especially “Freddie Freeloader.” I start almost every session of writing with that song. Music, for me, is so important as it is a different kind of creativity than what I’m doing, but it can still be used as fuel for my purposes. (I generally avoid music with lyrics so that the words of the song and the words I’m searching for don’t get tangled.)
That’s it. That’s my process and a brief review of a book you need to read. You owe it to yourself as a writer.