Anthony Bourdain, an American chef and television personality, known for the TV show No reservations, wrote in his best-seller book called Kitchen Confidential that ‘mise-en-place is the religion of all good line cooks.’
Meez is mise-en-place: your set up, your station prep, your assembled ingredients and, to some extent, your state of mind.
As a cook, your station, and its condition, its state of readiness, is an extension of your neurons system—and it’s profoundly upsetting if another cook or, God forbid, a waiter disturbs your precisely and carefully laid-out system.
The universe is in order when your station is set up the way you like it: you know where to find everything with your eyes closed, everything you need during the course of the shifts is at the ready at arm’s reach, your defenses are deployed.
I believe the same holds true for writers.
Sometimes we get lost checking e-mails, and answering them, navigating on social networks, although we know they are the greatest productivity drains. This is a very bad way to start your writing day because it puts you in a reaction mode.
Before writing, you can carefully arrange your uncluttered (or cluttered) desk–your Universe. Then, you set up your flexible list: your computer, pen or typewriter (for Classics); your notebooks; dictionaries; white sheets; storyboard; beverages and whatever you need at hand.
Once you have eliminated all distractions, when your mind is still fresh, ask yourself: Where I left my character yesterday? What his/her main purpose is? And what is more important, What I want him/her to accomplish today? Sometimes it helps to read the last few pages you wrote the last day, and then draw a quick storyboard for the writing day, focusing on the verbs that need attention. After all, plot is a verb.
This is a way of planning your writing day, trying to be specific but flexible. It gives you a direction while at the same time you let the Muse be your guide.
And you? How do you start your first fifteen minutes of your writing day? You can leave a comment in the comments section below.