When I want to work, there are certain conditions I have to meet before I'm ready. I need some motivation to sit my ass down in my chair. My mind just refuses to shut up, otherwise. I see it's time to work on Story #3, but my brain really wants to think about this article I read the other day, about a woman who had to sit next to a corpse for most of her plane flight. Or, I don't know, Silmarillion stuff. So I walk around if I have to, collapse into my chair when I'm too tired to walk anymore, and try very hard to focus.
I know every writer has to deal with something like this. My strategies are pretty conventional so far. If I'm having a lot of trouble facing something (example: the story I talked about revising in the first 100 Things entry), and I can't overcome that here at home, I take a copy of the story, a notebook and pens, and walk down to the nearest coffeeshop to make myself work. When all I have is the folder and my favorite pens, I have no choice: it's writing or boredom.
As a result, I have associations with most types of work I need to get done.
Coffee, specifically mochas, or hot chocolate when it's too late for coffee. Before I had to go gluten-free, pastries were sometimes on this list. I think "chocolate" is the key ingredient, but I'm usually not a fan of just plain chocolate; it needs to be tempered with something.
Grape soda. I don't care how awful it is; I started drinking it for some reason while doing my 2007 translations, and now I can't do one without thinking of the other.
Veggie sticks - the chip, not actual vegetables. I only ever allowed myself to buy chips during finals or midterms. If I'm going to waste my night writing essays, I may as well get a treat out of it.
Green tea - or black, but I prefer green. I tend to associate an audio reading of Milton with Photoshop, because I listened to a lot of Paradise Lost while making icons.
The association game isn't confined to work. When I first played Star Ocean 2, I was munching from a bag of rosemary-olive oil potato chips that Trader Joe's has since discontinued, but I still remember the taste every time I turn the game on - or read fanfic for it, or listen to the music. I associate Rahxephon with Nutella mug cakes and NyQuil. I associate Xenogears with my ass hurting because I sat on the floor playing the game three hours longer than I intended. Whenever I start these activities I'm reminded of my associations (especially Xenogears), so sitting down with a mocha will make me more inclined to write.
I wish I could have healthier associations. :/
But being who I am, I also insist on writing in certain kinds of folders, with very specific pens:
The pens are Pilot Hi-Tec C, and they're possibly the best pens in the world. They're even good for sketching, according to Zach. :D
The cute cat notebooks came from Kinokuniya. I still see Nyanko around, so the character hasn't been discontinued yet (phew!) like the poor Mushy/nagomimakuri that we all thought was so cute. (I miss Mushy. ;_;) My stationary has to be cute and/or pretty because I insist. I just do. I don't care if the paper inside is plain, but I want a damned cat on my binder, okay. Or at the very least some kind of floral motif. Or hearts.
(The Sentimental Circus line is pretty freaking adorable. If it wasn't so expensive, I'd have a collection of those binders too.)
With that, I always have to have three pens: dark pink, purple, and light blue. There's some history behind this: a good friend and I took several math classes together at community college, and when it became clear to both of us that we sucked and weren't getting anywhere by listening, we started writing notes to each other on a pad of graph paper we kept between us on the table, and we used alternating colors to keep track of who wrote what. (I kept some of these pages. They're awesome.) Somehow, we ended up settling on these three colors. We hand-wrote quite a few stories that way. Now, these are just the colors I write in. I can use a black pen just fine, but I prefer these because they come with a little hint of nostalgia - and they're pretty.
So hey, in a way, math encouraged my creativity! (Hahahahaokayno.)
In No Plot? No Problem!, Chris Baty talks about writing totems - those special objects or articles of clothing you might keep around to get yourself into a writing mood. Quoting from the wiki, since it's more concise:
Creator of NaNoWriMo, Chris Baty, urges WriMos to invest in a "writing totem," which is an item (or several items) that helps inspire, get one in a writer-like state of mind and help's battle writer's block. A writing totem can be anything; it could be an item of clothing (like Baty's viking helmet), a stuffed animal, a picture, a chotchke item, anything! Totems are most often around a WriMo's computer (or on the WriMo) and stick by the WriMo in all of his or her creative endeavors.
If you type "writing totem" into Google, you'll get a bunch of blog results for this. Instant Human, Just Add Coffee had a goat that I thought was pretty cute. I can get behind that! :D But if I have any such thing - since I tend to rely on chocolate, apparently - then it would be my
Some people find these to be creepy. They don't bother me, and in fact, I think they're pretty in just the way I like. I also get to customize them according to my mood, so this is a win/win situation. When I need to think, I stare at them. Every once in a while I spend a small fortune on nice clothes for them, because I like pretty things and find them inspiring. However, considering the cost, I wouldn't recommend Asian ball-jointed dolls as a totem to someone who doesn't already have one. :P
So in a nutshell, I find chocolate, grape soda, and dolls to be inspiring. Oh, and cute Japanese stationary. Believe it or not, these will all get me into a mood to write.
Which... I should be doing right now, come to think of it. This is way longer than it needed to be.