“Have someone else start something and then complete it yourself today.”
I gave my 11-year-old daughter broad instructions: “Start something that has to do with words.”
I expected she would write the first few lines of a poem.
She asked for a pencil and blank paper. I passed her a yellow #2 and a sheet of green paper from my recycled pile. She set to work on the opposite side of my desk, while I answered email and prepped for tonight’s business writing class.
I glanced over and saw her drawing pictures.
“Remember, the theme is ‘words,'” I told her.
“I know,” she said. “I got this.”
Turns out she was making a visual list.
Hannah started the list with a few basic essentials:
- eraser – because I make a lot of mistakes and frequently change my mind
- pencil – the sharper the better
- sharpener – the electric one I’m hoarding in my office now, even though it used to live in the kitchen
- pen – her illustration makes me seem romantically old school; in truth, I use a black UniBall
- mug – ideally the big, heavy one that lists the “Rules for Writing”
- tea – black and caffeinated in the morning, weaker and decaffeinated in the afternoon
- even a dancing flower – inspired by the solar-powered plants on my window sill, because I cannot keep real plants alive
- iDevices – Mac, iPad, and iPhone, all of which come into play at some point in each writing day
- dark chocolate – generally consumed around 1:30 pm
- candle – burning only when I can trust myself to remember to blow it out (so not very often)
- blank paper – ideally not ruled, because lines suggest orderly, linear thoughts, and that’s just not how I compose
- clock/timer – because a five-minute time limit is usually all it takes to inspire an adequate first draft
- cat – probably sprawling across useful resource materials or walking across my keyboard
And really, that’s pretty much all I need.