I was sipping my coffee this morning, feeling like it was literally warming me from within, and mulling over this question: what are the outside elements that my writing can't live without? I'm not talking about an active imagination or moment-to-moment inspiration, but real, tangible things that I need to write well. In college, I couldn't work without music: everyone thought it was so strange that I'd read and write with background noise, but I truly couldn't get anything done without it, so my stereo was always on in my room or else my Walkman (remember them?) was always plugged into my ears in the library.
These days, here are the two I came up with:
1) Coffee. Yes, partially because I'm half-brain dead in the morning, but also because I think it has a psychological effect on me as well. I think that researchers have discovered this too (I'm nearly certain that I've read studies about this), noting that for many people, coffee is more than a physical stimulant, that it's also a psychological signal that it's time to be more alert and time to start your day. And certainly, for me, it is. I drink my coffee, and my brain says, "Hey, okay, let's start your work."
2) An organized desk. This one is maybe weirder. I'm not sure. But I think I have a teeny touch of OCD because I absolutely can't work on a cluttered space. So before I start writing, I have to straighten everything into perfect piles and if I see a smudge or a light coating of dust or whatever, I have to clean it off. My husband laughs at me because I'm the same way with the dinner table. (As I said, probably OCD..and not that OCD is laughable or funny, but he finds my idiosyncrasies amusing, in the way that spouses do...like how I can't go to sleep unless the closet door is closed.) I can't eat dinner until the table is presentable. I mean, I truly can't stand to sit there - I'm anxious and antsy and bothered by the mess. My husband's idea of presentable means pushing the newspapers and mail and ipods and my son's cars and other crap into a giant, towering heap on one side of the table, and then, inevitably before I sit down to eat, I have to organize it into something neat and linear...and thus, I can actually enjoy dinner. Anyway, I've digressed, but much like our dining table, my desk needs to be palatably organized - as if a cluttered desk means cluttered work - before I can dive in.
So what about you? What can't you write without? Good light? Music? A picture of your family peering over at you? A daily run through certain blogs or websites?