14 Things Every Writer Needs Before They Sit Down to Write

Have these things ready before you get started.

1. A large chunk of time set aside in which only writing is ideally permitted to happen.

2. Coffee, tea, some form of synthetic stimulation to help you get into “writing mode.”

3. A browser plugin that only blocks the websites you’re inclined to visit when you’re supposed to be writing. (That way, you can still look up words and such.)

4. A laptop charger, extra paper/pens/pencils, a backup plan if all these things fail.

5. Patience.

6. A general idea of what you’re going to work on, even if you’re not sure what you’re in the “mood” for.

7. Some sort of timer (e.g., on your phone) so you don’t have to stop writing to check the time.

8. Snacks!

9. Some kind of short-term plan or list of goals, to be accomplished before your butt leaves the chair.

10. Your preferred form of background noise, even if it’s silence.

11. A distraction-free environment (as much as possible, depending).

12. Fuzzy slippers/socks/comfy shoes (unless you’re OK with sitting in a coffee shop in your socks).

13. Plenty of water within reach so you stay hydrated and clear-headed. (Frequent pee breaks are acceptable as long as you don’t get lost on your way back.)

14. The right attitude. It’s much easier to write when you have a positive mindset.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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18 thoughts on “14 Things Every Writer Needs Before They Sit Down to Write

  1. “Frequent pee breaks are acceptable as long as you don’t get lost on your way back.”

    Hahaha! Love this. And if you are prone to getting lost might I suggest one of those Home Depot buckets with a lid? Lol :P

  2. 11. A distraction-free environment (as much as possible, depending) – wait, so you mean listening to your teenager play “Fortnite” beside you, yelling flanking commands to his teammates isn’t conducive to writing?? That explains why all my books are about video games. :)

  3. I need to print this out and put it in a few strategic places. I’ve had the craziest month, but craziest weekend, too, that’s made writing impossible (work-sleep schedule has killed me, and even stopped my reading because I was so tired and woozy). And sometimes I think I’m ready to sit and write, and here come the distractions. Making sure I have all this stuff, like a checklist, will help, because I realize I do need most if not all these things when I write! So glad I read this today. I’m re-starting a writing masterclass tomorrow and want to do my best to get through it in reasonable time (and do tons of actual writing). I have to make a writing ritual and stick to it, even if my days go wonky–just change the time and let the rest fall into place.

    This is the perfect time for me to really determine what helps me best: preparation or time of day. With luck, I’m hoping that I actually do better just being in the prepared mindset more than at the whim of my internal clock and “peak creative hours.” I’ll be unstoppable if I can make my writing chunk of time ANY time of the day. That’ll make me so happy.

    1. Sorry this response is coming so late! I hope you’ve been able to start getting back on track. I’ve also had a tough time lately (a new puppy makes sitting down to write slightly more challenging). This is why I always advocate for switching up your schedule when you realize something isn’t working. Sometimes even the perfect routine needs changing up every now and then.

  4. I definitely have to work on 3, 5 and 8. This is a post that I can see myself coming back to regularly.

    1. I’ve been meaning to start creating printable graphics for these and posting them on my Patreon page and it just hasn’t happened yet. It will.

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