Not everything fits into your duffel or laptop bag, but the items listed below should be able to get you out or through most writing scrapes.
1) Your idea notebook with 2 pens – Mine’s a thick, small lined notepad I picked up from Half Price Books. Carry this with you to jot down any plot idea or scene snippet immediately. Two pens are for if the first one fails.
2) Laptop, tablet or other small computer that can go almost anywhere – For me the netbook is the obvious choice, though my next one might be a Surface. Small in size and light weight is best for carrying to more places, though notepads work just as well if you’re not a tech person. Since publishing will eventually involve typing I start there.
3) An electronic copy of most of what you’ve ever written – Leave out anything particularly painful. Having this material around proves that if you’ve done it before you can do it again, and can also show you the ways in which you’ve improved, or are committing the same mistakes.
4) The current book(s) you are reading – Whether it’s related to your subject matter or not, seeing another writer’s words can inspire, and get you out of your head.
5) 20 hours of music, with an hour or so set as a playlist – I select about 20 hours of albums and random tracks for any new project and listen to that music over and over. It helps me to focus on the work, while drowning out other things. It can be a mood setter, and a way of controlling even the most chaotic of environments.
6) Small headphones that block out most but not all sound.
7) Coffee you can brew yourself and diet caffeinated soda – Caffeine is the creative person’s drug, and for me coffee and soda are the best delivery systems, often both at the same time. Red bull and energy drinks on the other hand get me jittery and out of focus. There’s a pace to caffeine use that is most optimal. Find yours.
8) Beer, whiskey or tea to cool down – A fierce writing session can be exhausting. Relax with your favorite beverage or small snack to reward your work and empty your head.
9) A small pillow for hard coffee shop chairs.
10) A bag with extra room for books you might buy afterward.
11) A writing prompt book – I like The 3AM Epiphany but there are countless others.
12) Writing busywork – Things like Writer’s Markets, cover designs, anything to get writing work that needs to be done out of the way, if the creative part of you is not working at the moment.
13) A pet – Works better than the beer for relaxing.
14) A measurable goal for the evening – Something manageable but substantive. Metric for this is, does it feel like you got something done?
15) A WiFi/3G OFF button.
16) Something that makes you feel like a writer – A favorite jacket, a good pen, a fancy notebook, something you buy for yourself that epitomizes your image of what a writer is. Try not to buy a beret 😉
What else would you put in the kit?