My 8 Must-Haves When Writing Romance

8 writing essentials

Like many authors, I’m particular about my writing space. I can’t face a wall while I’m writing. I hate writing while sitting in an office chair. I hate writing early in the morning. And don’t even get me started on how much I loathe writing to music. Promise I’m not a demanding diva who has to write in a temperature-controlled environment while being fanned by gorgeous man-servants… though that does sound amazing! It’s just that I like to be as comfortable as possible when I dive into the romantic worlds I create. And for that to happen, I need a few key things. Here are my eight writing must-haves. 

1. A glass of water.

Things get steamy when I write. I live for writing long, drawn-out, filthy love scenes. And sometimes, that makes me a bit thirsty (insert wink emoji). But I don’t want to stop everything to get up, walk to the kitchen, and rehydrate. That’s why I always have a giant glass or bottle of water next to me.

2. Access to my favorite romance books.

Nothing gets me in the mood to write kissing books more than reading awesome kissing books. Here are some I keep nearby when I need inspiration: 

Anything by Stefanie Simpson. She writes angst and tension and steam so damn well in her New City Series. And she delivers some of the most satisfying sex scenes I’ve ever read. Even when I’m in the worst mood, when writing is the last thing on my mind and I want to throw my laptop out the window, all I have to do is reread my favorite parts from her books and I’m itching to write again.  

A Girl Like You by Gemma Burgess. It’s the ultimate romcom with brilliant banter and party scenes that make you wish you could dive right into the book and partake in the festivities. I’ve used it as a guide on how to get group gathering scenes right, it’s that good.

Wrong Bed Series by Rebecca Brooks. This series has one of the most creative meet-cutes I’ve read. Each book starts with the main characters meeting when one of them is in bed. Whenever I think I can’t think of another cute and creative way to meet, I revisit this series and my creatives juices are flowing immediately.

3. My cat.

Writing can be difficult, and some days cranking words out is like trying to draw blood from a stone. Having a cute soft thing to cuddle helps ease that stress. Luckily my cat prefers to take his twenty-hour-long daily nap sitting next to me, so he’s always nearby anytime I’m in need of a snuggle.

4. A playlist of random songs to get me through setbacks.

I don’t enjoy listening to music while I write as I find it too distracting, but every once in a while I’ll listen to a song or two between writing sprints to pump myself up or get me in the mood to tackle a scene. A few of my go-to songs: 

“The Greatest” by Sia and Kendrick Lamar. Sometimes I get all melancholy and think that the story I’m working on is garbage or I’m garbage or I’ll never be able to finish the manuscript that’s been plaguing me for months. You know, typical writerly stuff. So when I need to pump myself up, this is the perfect song to blare.

“You Could Be Happy” by Snow Patrol. When I need to dig deep into my well of emotions and write a wrenching black moment, this is the song I play to get myself in the proper state of mine. It’s angsty and sad and guaranteed to get all the sad juices flowing instantly. 

“Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Ingrid Michaelson. Her rendition is just so raw and stripped and full of feels. It never fails to put me in the exact right headspace when I need to write a heartfelt scene between the main character and love interest.

5. A pillow from my bed.

It’s weird, yes, but when I’m not writing at my desk, I’m usually writing on the couch, and I need a pillow to prop up my laptop so my arms and wrists don’t get super sore. Bed pillows work way better than those decorative couch pillows that are too small and made of super slick polyester material.

6. Relative quiet.

I don’t mean dead silence where there’s no sound ever. Dull background noise is perfect actually (I live near a busy street so I can’t have complete peace and quiet even if I wanted it). I just can’t be in a coffee shop with people making noise around me or have the TV on. Loud noises make it almost impossible for me to focus if I have any hope of hitting my word count for the day.

7. Proximity to a window.

Writing, at least for me, is a very isolated activity — that’s what I enjoy most about it. But that isolation can get pretty intense sometimes, and on busy days, it’s helpful to have a peek to the outside word. Just being able to look outside helps me feel less isolated and connected to the world around me, as silly as that may sound. 

8. A notepad and pen.

I know, I know. I’m already typing on a laptop — why in the world would I need a pen and notepad if I can just jot it down on my computer? Because some days I’m staring at a computer screen for so long that I get sick of it. Also, when I brainstorm story ideas or plot points, I prefer to do it on paper. The change of medium is sort of like a reset, and my brain is able to switch between writing mode and brainstorming mode more easily if I use pen and paper. And sometimes those brainstorming sessions involve drawing out certain sexual positions to see if they would even work out physically, and that certainly can’t be done in a Word doc.

What are some of your writing must-haves? Tweet me at @AuthorSarahS and tell me all about it! 


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