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Behind the scenes, writing tag

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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!

Published inWriting