Writing is tricky business. Words are sneaky: they skate, and slide, and slip away just when you need them. Characters turn unruly. Plot lines bend and waver like light through water. Writing is like mental rodeo: exhausting, frightening, and extremely taxing on the lower back.
I think that's why a lot of writers develop certain inflexible habits when it comes to their routines. It's almost shamanistic. We tend to believe a certain desk, a certain pen, or a certain word processor will confer upon us the luck we'll need in order to stay the ride for another day. It's kind of like a major league baseball player who always wears the same pair of socks during a winning spree, except much less smelly. Hopefully.
I've always thought myself relatively free of those kind of superstitions. I can write anywhere, on anything, with anything. I can write during a meeting (and make it look like I'm taking notes--snap!). I can type onn my blackberry in the subway (I wrote much of Before I Fall this way). I'm like a one-woman Dr. Seuss poem: I can write in a train, I can write on a plane...I can write in a car! On a bus! In a bar!
However, recently I've discovered there is one thing I absolutely, positively need in order to write.
And I'm not just sayin' I need my morning cup of Joe to wake me up. Coffee is my crutch. Pausing to sip, or refill, or brew more provides me a welcome distraction when I'm stuck; it is also my reward for working.
Unfortunately, I write a lot. Which means I drink about ten cups of coffee a day. I could basically run an entire Starbucks franchise out of my stomach.
So recently, on vacation in Mexico, I went down to one--ONE!--cup a day.
I am happy to report that I still got a lot of writing done. I am unhappy to report that I essentially did nothing else, since I was asleep all the time.
Now that I'm back in NYC, I'm going to try my hardest not to hit the coffee pot as hard as I have been. I'm staying on the wagon, people...at least until I tumble off, snoring.
What are YOUR worst habits/biggest crutches? You know you can tell me!