Tag! You’re it!

I saw a post by Kristen of She’s Novel, with a few interesting questions about how she writes, and I thought it was fun.

Since I haven’t been having a lot of success lately, I thought I’d see what my answers would be, and maybe they might help me get back into the spirit of writing.

Where do you write?

I don’t have a big enough desk to write at so for a while I was writing at my dining room table – but I was getting overwhelmed by all of my notebooks spread out over the whole table, and still having to run upstairs to my computer whenever I needed to look something up (sometimes my phone was just too small for what I needed), or whenever I had to print something. When I don’t need all my notebooks of world and character building, I write on my lunch breaks at work. I’m still looking for a suitable place to write at home – which is I think why I haven’t been getting any writing done since I took my stuff off the dining room table. I finally put all of my outline and my second draft and the beginning of the third draft into Scrivener, but I haven’t been able to write anything into it yet. It’s helping me to see where the holes are, and to see which scenes need to be written, but I can’t get comfortable, and I can’t focus while I’m at my desktop computer.

When do you normally write? Night, afternoon, or morning?

I write at night after work around 9pm until I go to bed around 11, or in the afternoon at lunch (or I would, if I was getting any writing done – that’s the time I have at home anyway – although some of that time also includes making and eating dinner, any time spent with the husband and cats, or anything else computer related, even mundane things like paying bills, or checking email).

I’d much prefer to write in the morning. First thing is when my mind is going with ideas. By night, my brain is fried. I’ve tried getting up earlier and writing before work, but it just doesn’t work out. I’m way too tired at 4am to get any writing done, and we have to start getting ready by 5:30-6am most mornings.

Is there a certain snack you like to eat while writing?

I’m usually writing while eating lunch or dinner, so it’s whatever I’ve packed for lunch or whatever I’ve cooked for dinner, not really a specific snack. I try not to snack too much between meals, anyway.

How often do you write a new novel?

Ha. Haha. I’ve been writing this same novel for the last five years. I think I’ve got it figured out now, and I’m slowly (slowly) teaching myself how to write a novel, so I’m really hoping that the next three novels in the series get progressively shorter in terms of how long it takes to write them.

Do you listen to music while you write?

Sometimes, but nothing with lyrics when I do. If I need it to drown out background noise (usually my husband watching TV or playing a game while I was writing downstairs at the dining room table), I’ll listen to a playlist of my favorite Lindsay Stirling and David Garrett songs. Otherwise, when I need to really concentrate, I prefer silence.

What do you write on? Laptop or paper?

I don’t have a laptop anymore, it died. In our old apartment, I used to write on my laptop on the couch in the living room when I was between classes or before work, and it was great: bright and sunny, on my comfortable couch, with my feet up and just typing away. Then we bought our house, and my computer, and my external hard drive died (with all of my writing on it! – luckily my WIP was saved to google docs, but that’s was the only thing) and my laptop died all within the first month. It’s been a few years, and I just can’t get into writing at my desktop computer. The chair is so uncomfortable that I can’t get into the zone anymore. (It might also be that I’ve been writing this story for so long, and that editing/re-writing is a different experience than drafting was.) The dining room table chair was even less comfortable, but at least it was sunny. It’s so dark in my house.

So now I write on paper usually in pencil, but sometimes I need a colorful pen just to perk up the mood (sometimes the little things are all that keeps me going), then I’ll type it up on my desktop and tweak things as I type.

Is there a special ritual you have before or after you write?

No. If I had any rituals, I’d get even less writing done than I do now – which would mean not writing at all.

What do you do to get into the mood to write?

Read. Whenever I’m reading I want to write. It’s too bad that I only really have time for one or the other, never both at the same time. So, I usually read a book or two until I don’t know what I want to read next, then I’ll write until I run out of steam, and by then I’ve usually decided on my next book to read.

What is always near the place you write?

My phone, but to be fair, my phone is near every place I’m at. For writing, it depends on the place. If I’m at work, I’ll have just my notebook and pen. At home, I’ll have my binder for world building/story bible and a large notebook with more notes and photocopies of research, I’ll also have my binder for character charts/notes/list of names. I’ll have my binders for past drafts. I’ll have my note card holder with the outlines for the next three books. I’ve also recently added The Novel Planner, to track when I’m writing and how much – I’m still working out how best to implement that so that it actually makes a difference to the amount of writing I get done.

Do you have a reward system for your word count?

I’ve tried stickers. I’ve tried daily goals. I’ve tried more tangible rewards like getting a new book, or allowing myself a day of play on my favorite game, or a movie night or something. None of that works. Anything that costs money isn’t a motivator because if I have to pay for it, it’s not really a reward. Food just makes me feel guilty for having too much junk. If I reward myself for writing by reading, or playing a game, I’m using time I might want to use for writing, for other things – and then I feel guilty for not writing! It’s a no win situation.

I’ve tried sending what I’ve written to a friend, but her schedule is as packed as mine, and I haven’t had a response. I tried a critique partner, but I was using all of my writing time to read and respond to her stuff that I didn’t have time to write anything new for mine. I tried a writing group, but it took a couple hours out of the evening where I could have been writing, and I didn’t end up getting any useable feedback that would help with editing a first draft.

I’m still trying to find something that will work.

Is there anything about your writing process that others might not know about?

I don’t have one? I think my saving feature as far as writing goes, is determination. I have to write this book. I cannot not write it. I don’t have the time. I’m often frustrated. I really don’t actually know what I’m doing at all, but I keep going. I’ve been writing it for five years now, and that’s a long time. As many obstacles as there are in front of me, I just keep moving along slowly (so slowly). If I don’t finish this series, I’ll never be able to write anything else. At this point, I’m committed, whether I like it or not.

I’ve tried working on other ideas, on giving this a break, but I just keep coming back to this one.

If anyone else would like to answer the questions, please leave a link in the comments, so I can check them out. Maybe we’ll learn something from each other!