Three Things Every Writer Needs

While I have been putting the initial outlines together for my new book, I’ve been trying some new things to organize my thoughts and put together the pieces to start writing. I’ve had a great experience with Evernote, to capture all my ideas in one place, accessible from the cloud on most almost all of my online devices. My new iPad 2 works well for typing and collecting ideas. The iPad version of Apple Pages exports right into the Mac version. Overall things are coming together.

But when I went to sit down and actually write, I noticed I was missing a few things.

The main thing I was missing was a comfortable chair.

When my wife and I moved a little over a year ago, some of our old furniture would not fit into our new house. One of the casualties of the move was a cloth couch with a recliner. This is where I wrote my first book and I knew that I had to do something to bring back the comfortable writing and creative experience. I realized right then that all writers need the following three things.

1. A Comfortable Chair: When I am blogging or working on non fiction, sitting at a desk with an office chair works fine. The upright position facing a monitor works well with a mouse and the setup feels real businesslike. However, when I’m writing fiction or creative non-fiction I like the comfort of a recliner. This puts me away from a big screen and works well with an iPad or laptop. I can immerse myself into fiction much better when I’m comfortable and not distracted.

This week I went in search of a new recliner. I was looking for something that was warm and inviting, that would recline sufficiently for sleeping, and fit my decor. After looking at a few places I discovered the ultimate recliner. This chair wasn’t just a notch above the rest, it was in a whole different league.

stressless-pc-bord-20105 (1)

The Stressless chair, made in Denmark, has a zero gravity design, with built in lumbar support, full recline, and an adjustable headrest. It also offers a computer tray, a choice of colors and fabrics, and one outlandish price tag. I would have to write a bestseller to be able to afford this.

Yet after days of looking, the chair keeps popping up in my mind. I know I can’t justify the purchase, but the places you could go while sitting in this are endless. You could close your eyes and be anywhere in the world.

torchiere light2. Good Lighting: While having a great chair is paramount to good writing, having good lighting is also important. What I find works the best for me is an adjustable torchiere light that reflects off the ceiling. In looking at lamps I discovered that many of the new torchiere lights also have a side arm that offers a reading light. This offers the additional feature of being able to control the amount of light that shines down on your computer. For certain laptops this additional light may help you see the dark keys better.

For people that live in areas that are overcast all the time, the Verilux natural spectrum light might be the hot tip. The natural spectrum lights simulates real sunlight and the adjustable design allows you to aim the light for the best writing experience.

3. Good Hot Coffee: While a comfortable chair and good lighting are necessary items for writing, good coffee is a must for creativity. The caffeine stimulates the brain, which drastically improves creative thought. While I can write non-fiction without coffee, good fiction requires at least two cups. This can be a problem. You can instantly lose your creative thought process if you have to constantly get up for refills. The answer is to have a coffee maker with a removable carafe. This allows you to take your hot coffee wherever you go. It also will keep the coffee warm for hours.

cusinart-coffee-makerThe Cuisinart coffee maker with removable carafe allows me to take my hot coffee along while writing. The thermal design keeps the coffee hot and ready to go on a table next to my chair. My favorite blend is Starbucks breakfast blend. I find that I like to mix caffeinated coffee with decaf to reduce the caffeine in each cup. This allows me to enjoy the good effects of coffee with out the jittery side effects.

If you enjoy beverages other than coffee, you can get a standard thermal carafe for any hot or cold drink and keep it alongside your chair to keep you writing for hours at a time.

red-recliner3Update: After shopping for furniture for hours my wife and I decided on a lower cost alternative recliner. The Adele push back recliner from Plummer’s furniture is covered in soft microfiber and doesn’t take up much space. It’s simple push-back operation makes it ideal for writers looking for comfort and portability at a great price. The soft arms and easily adjustable recline position work well with my laptop or iPad. I’ll let you know how it works out over the next few months.

Question: What items do you find necessary for writing?


  1. says

    I agree with these three things. I have a similar chair in my office, although not the same brand. I find lighting crucial, and have yet to find the right lamp to fit into my somewhat cramped office (It’s cramped because I own too many books and need too many bookcases…).

    And coffee… While I agree that it’s a necessity, I have to choose another blend. One of my interests is coffee roasting. I currently am working to perfect, to my taste, at lease, a very nice Ethiopian blend. I roast my coffee, allow it to sit for 48 hours or so, and then brew it ion a French press. I don’t keep a pot next to me. I find that this forces me to get up and make another cup every hour or so, making me break from the intensity of writing and allowing my mind to continure to function better. Plus, I think it tastes better that way.

    Finally, I would add to that list a quiet, distraction free atmosphere. I have five kids. Most of my writing, and even my reading, doesn’t happen at home during the hours they are awake. My office is a better place for me, or aftere they’ve gone to bed, but I ususlly reserve that time for catching up with my wife, without 5 others vying for her attention as well.

    Thanks for the great ideas!

  2. says

    Thanks for the comment, Jeff. I agree on the quiet place. I get up early (usually 4am) and write for a couple of hours before my wife gets up. On the weekends I might go as long as 4 hours, before I lose steam. Your coffee sounds awesome. With that much preparation, fresh brew is probably the only way to go.

    • John Richardson says

      A carafe is so much easier than getting up every half hour to get a refill. A big time saver!

  3. says

    I don’t have a nice chair (it’s one from the dining room). I have a teeny, tiny office that used to be the pantry. I can’t have coffee anymore (ulcer). I have adequate light though and I drink tea to help me wake up at 4-4:30 a.m. so I can get the thing I really need: quiet and no interruptions. That’s something very difficult to get as a married working mom of 7. :-)

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