Thursday, March 10, 2011
The Most Overlooked Writing Accessory Ever
Every writer knows there are must-haves: a good dictionary, Strunk and White's Elements of Style, reliable research material. The necessity of these and many others goes without saying. Then there are the less formal accessories that vary by writer: the proper pen, the stress ball, the bowl of peanut M&M's. Talking recently with a fellow writer, I was surprised to find that one of my hands-down, deal-breaking must-haves she has never used: the Dump Pad.
THE DUMP PAD
What is it? It's simply the greatest low-tech anti-distraction device ever created. Tell me if this sounds familiar to you. You sit down to write. Your cat bites your foot. You remember you need to buy more cat food or tomorrow she will not stop with a simple bite; she will devour you. You get up and make a shopping list. While standing at the counter, you see in the morning sunlight the ghastly shade of your dishtowels and berate yourself for not doing your laundry. The mail arrives and you remember you forgot to send out the cable bill. Without cable you can't watch the NOVA episode on the Eastern Cougar (or the Bachelor. I don't judge.) It's on tonight, right? Is today Thursday? You were supposed to call your friend about going out tonight…
Sound familiar? Enter the Dump Pad.
I keep it next to my writing station with a working pen. As my brain labors to kick into fiction mode, I stumble across dozens of fleeting thoughts, chores, mental dings that could derail me if I address them at that moment. Instead, I jot them down. They're not forgotten; they're not left behind. They will be dealt with afterwards. Knowing I have a record of them frees my imagination from my responsible mind's grip and creativity can commence.
Don’t lose your dictionaries or character bibles and, in the name of all things holy, don't lose the M&M's. But do yourself a favor – get a Dump Pad. You'll thank me later.