Cosmo editor-in-chief Kate White has just written her sixth Bailey Weggins mystery, So Pretty It Hurts, following two stand-alone thrillers,HushandThe Sixes. Here she describes using the writer’s cocktail to finally get that book written.
When I gave a talk recently about my new mystery, So Pretty It Hurts, the man introducing me made a point of saying that I’d written eight thrillers and mysteries. Hearing him stress the number gave me pause. That’s because there was a time when I thought I’d never manage to produce one mystery, let alone eight. In fact, I didn’t write my first book until I was over 40.
In my twenties I had the best of intentions. Longing to be a novelist, I bought a roll-top desk and filled the little pigeonholes with notecards, pencils, edible-looking pink erasers, and everything else I thought an author would need. I routinely swore to myself that I would spend “my entire Saturday afternoon” churning out pages. I made a number of feeble attempts to put words to paper but more often than not I failed to even wrestle my butt into the desk chair. One day I heard a published author say that the sure sign you’re destined to be a writer is if you write all the time. I only thought about writing. It broke my heart to realize there might not be a book in my future.
But then, thank god, I discovered “the writer’s cocktail.” That’s my term for the surprising mix of things that make writing doable for me. Once I found it, I was off and running.
The first component is the right desk. One day I realized that I actually I hated my roll top. It made me feel hemmed in both physically and mentally. So I bought two filling cabinets and a block of wood and began to write on that. The big surface was utterly liberating. Over time, with a little experimentation, I also discovered that though I’m a night owl, I write most easily early in the morning. And I came to see that I can’t be forced to write for big blocks of time. I need to play the trick of telling myself that I’ll write for an hour, not an entire afternoon—but then I always keep going. Oddly, it helps, too, if Carmina Burana is playing. (Perhaps that sometimes ominous-sounding music is good for creating whodunits).
So if by chance you long to write but find every excuse to avoid it, try experimenting and see if there’s a writer’s cocktail that will work for you. Cheers!