Recipe for the perfect writer’s cocktail

The Kindle Daily Post recently published a guest blog by Kate White (So Pretty It Hurts), Cosmo editor-in-chief and six-time published author. According to the mystery/thriller writer, she didn’t successfully pen her first book until she was over 40-years-old.

Succeeding as a writer didn’t mean buying “a roll-top desk” or surrounding herself with “notecards, pencils, edible-looking pink erasers, and everything else [she] thought an author would need.” It meant finding an atmosphere that liberated her creativity, setting a schedule that worked best for her, and fooling herself into writing for longer stretches than she felt like.

The first component is the right desk. One day I realized that I actually I hated my roll top. It made me feel hemmed in both physically and mentally. So I bought two filling cabinets and a block of wood and began to write on that. The big surface was utterly liberating. Over time, with a little experimentation, I also discovered that though I’m a night owl, I write most easily early in the morning. And I came to see that I can’t be forced to write for big blocks of time. I need to play the trick of telling myself that I’ll write for an hour, not an entire afternoon—but then I always keep going. Oddly, it helps, too, if Carmina Burana is playing. (Perhaps that sometimes ominous-sounding music is good for creating whodunits).

The most important part may be not making excuses. Yes, you’re busy. Yes, you’d rather make time for the billion easier things in your life, like watching whole television seasons and redecorating your house and catching up on blogs every morning, afternoon, and night. But if you’re going to do that instead, be honest with yourself: You’re not writing that novel. At least not now.

If you’re going to write a book, write a book. If it needs revised, revise it. Remember that the many parts of the writing process are not always fun, and they’re definitely not glamorous. Stop procrastinating, sweat a little, and you’ll be rewarded with progress. Do whatever you need to do to get there, but don’t use the material world with its perfect pink erasers and notecards as roadblocks to actual writing. Your work doesn’t have to be pretty. It just has to happen. Each step you take is one step closer than you were yesterday.