1. An Idea.
Ah, the beautiful moment of conception where the novel begins! The flash of creative genius etc. But the beauty is, it doesn’t even have to be your idea. I’m certainly not ashamed to say I stole all my ideas from medieval literature, and it doesn’t matter one little bit, because they can’t sue me, cos they’re all dead.
2. Some Free Time.
Sounds obvious, right? Well actually the art is in making free time when it doesn’t actually exist. Supposed to be doing you “real” job? No worries! Write your novel instead, and hurriedly minimise the page whenever anyone walks past! Supposed to be cleaning the house? No worries! Leave it long enough, and whoever lives with you will eventually be worn-down enough to do it for you. Probably ought to be asleep? Nah. Sleep is for losers, and besides that 3am sleep-deprived creativity rush is one of Nature’s most generous natural highs.
3. Many many cups of tea.
Everyone has their thing. Maybe yours is coffee. Coffee is certainly more Hemmingway-chic, but I’m a tea gal, and I would die without it. Yumyumyumyum.
I don’t know about you, but I cannot write if I think someone might see what I am writing. My entire family have this really annoying habit of looking over my shoulder at whatever I am doing on the computer, and reading out loud whatever words they see. This would probably be fine if I were writing a children’s book, but it is my absolute nightmare that my mother will lean over my shoulder when I am visiting her and just shout out “NIPPLES” or something. Writing must be done in absolute secrecy. I also travel a lot, which means writing on the train with the screen of my computer switched off, resulting in whoever I am sitting next to thinking I am a spy.
5. A Friend.
Like my own dearest love of my heart, fire of my loins best friend and inspiration Kay (to whom I dedicated my first book) a friend is essential for writing a novel. Particularly useful in those moments where you say, “I’ve read it back, and it’s awful, and if anyone ever reads it I will have to move to darkest Peru out of shame”. I am sure many of you will agree that without a certain special friend who was there with you throughout the creative process, a novel would never have come out of it.
This one is self-explanatory.
7. A Cat.
The therapeutic qualities of a good pet are well known. Personally I’m a cat lover. Nothing like sitting with your lovely cat while you write, and he’s filling you will chill, good feelings. Of course, my cat has mastered the art of running his paw over the trackpad and then jumping on the spacebar, which highlights and deletes a large portion of text, which is not always so relaxing, but in the main, I would call a familiar of some kind a must-have!
8. Lack of Inhibition.
Gotta get rid of that shame. I was certainly really really embarrassed to share my work with anyone else, but the time comes when you have got to let go, and just put it out there. Not everyone will like your work, but if they don’t then it’s no big deal. You still wrote it, and that’s pretty amazing.
9. Another Hobby.
Just do it. Or you’ll go mad. Running, swimming, something where you can just let the thoughts come to your brain, otherwise you get that thing where you have been staring at your computer typing for 7 hours without getting out of bed to wash or eat, and you feel like you don’t exist anymore.
Good old fashioned determination. It’s a novel, so it’s got to be long, so you got to write it to the end. Of course, this must also be done with the help of number 5 (a friend), and the help of number 6 (chocolate)! But with all these ingredients, I’d say, conditions are perfect for novel-writing.
If anyone has anything else they consider essential for the writing process, please add it in the comments! The more the merrier.