How do I write?

Thanks to the folks at NaNoWriMo (It’s next month, are you ready?), I read this really great article where writers answered questions about their writing styles.  I don’t know about you, but this is something I wonder about all the time. Writing can be such a lonely way of living, the tendency to lock ourselves indoors for long periods of time tremendous (I mean, how many of you even see me in the month of November when I’m doing NaNoWriMo?).  So getting this insight about other authors was totally amusing….and it helped me to see that I wasn’t doing it wrong, or such a freak after all.  If you have a chance, check out the article.  If you have more time, copy and paste the questions in your own blog and answer them.  And if you do answer them, make sure you leave me a comment so I can read up on your writing style too.

P.S.  Joining NaNoWriMo?  Find me HERE, and be my friend.  Let’s write together!

Here’s my answers:

How long do you spend writing each day? 
I wake up every morning an hour before I have to get ready for my real job to write on my novel.  On good writing days, I wake up two hours early and actually get some decent work done.  If I’m feeling really inspired (or it’s NaNoWriMo), I will also spend an hour or two in the evening typing away.  So that’s 2-4 hours for the novel.  That’s not including my job where I write for a newspaper – which would put me more at 8+ hours of writing.

What time of day do you prefer to write?
Morning is my very best time.  It’s when the house is quiet and I am at my most creative.

Do you set yourself a time limit or a word limit? No limits?
Both. If I write less then 1,000 words, I feel like I haven’t accomplished hardly anything.  My happy goal is 2,000.  But some days I only have an hour to write total.  I can usually get out about 800 words in that amount of time if I am super clear on what I want to write.  I try to be kind to myself if I fall short of my word count goal.  It doesn’t always work out that way, and I might be in a bit of funk if I type less than I wanted to.  But at least I try.

Do you write with music on? If so, what music do you like to write to?
Music on, always.  Almost every writer I saw in the interviews I linked to said music was a huge turn-off for them.  But I find it centers me when I am trying to concentrate.  But there are rules.  I try to make the music match what I’m writing to help capture the mood of the piece.  I cannot listen to new music because I’ll try to focus on that instead of what I’m writing.  And when in doubt, music without words (or words I understant) is best.  My current favorite for writing is Sigur Ros, an icelandic group who is brilliant, totally brilliant.  For my last novel (still in rough draft form), Radiohead and Muse were at the top of my playlist.  Currently I am listening to a Coldplay mix on Pandora – the current band playing is the soothing sounds of Nat King Cole serenading me.

How often do you check the Internet? Do you fall into Internet black holes? Or turn off your WiFi completely?
The Internet is both my friend and enemy while I’m typing.  It’s a great resource when I’m trying to research something I’m writing about, or when I need to find new words for description to keep from being bland or repetitive. But the slightest sign of writer’s block?  I’m checking my email or perusing Facebook, looking to see what’s up on Amazon, or getting stuck in a vortex that resulted from one innocent search on cicadas.  If I’m really feeling distracted, I’ll turn off the Wi-Fi.  But most times I just let myself fall a little in the black hole before pulling myself out again.

Are you a basher or a swooper? Kurt Vonnegut characterized writers into these two camps: “Tellers of stories with ink on paper, not that they matter any more, have been either swoopers or bashers. Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one. When they’re done they’re done.”
I am mostly a swooper, especially during NaNoWriMo!  When you have to write 50,000 words in 30 days, you just don’t have time to look at what you’re writing.  This process does two things.  First, it allows me to keep up the motivation while keeping the negative nancies in my head at bay.  If I’m not re-reading what I’ve written, I can continue to believe that it’s utterly fantastic.  And I can happily write till the very end.  But the second thing swooping does is it produces a ton of errors.  Facts in the story change.  A Jack might turn into a John.  Repetitive words and points are a given.  And things are awfully jumbled.  The editing part sucks, which is probably why it’s my biggest hangup when it comes to producing a fully completed novel.  This time, I’m being more of a basher, re-reading what I’ve written when I feel like I’m stuck.  Editing might be a little easier with this one, but the negative nancies are raging hardcore.  I think I prefer swopping to bashing in the novel writing process.

Do you eat when you’re writing?
First novel I ever wrote, I had random snacks at my side at all times.  In one month I gained 10 pounds.  Now I try not to have anything but coffee or water at my side.  But I am guilty of eating my lunch at the keyboard, hence a few wayward crumbs stuck between the keys.

What snacks/drinks do you go to?
COFFEEEEEEEEE.

What’s your biggest procrastination tool? Or are you a freak who never procrastinates? Freak!
If it’s shiny and catches my eye, it’s my procrastination tool.  Probably Facebook is number one.  My iPhone is number 2 (Bejeweled is awesome for letting me unwind from sticky writing scenarios that just won’t come out right).  And if I have to, I’ll just leave the computer altogether and grab a few deep breaths in the sunshine on my back porch.

How do the people (roommates/partners/children) who live with you fit into or around your writing schedule? 
If I wake up early enough, there’s no problem.  My almost-husband lets me be if he sees me typing away with my headphones in place.  And for the most part, the kids understand that if I’m typing away, especially with my headphones on, I am not to be bothered.  If it is really hard to concentrate while they’re awake, I will just lock myself in my room.  But life is life – kids want to be taken care of, almost-husbands deserve attention, even the kitties need a little love.  So I try to limit novel writing time to early mornings and later evenings.

Do you find yourself tied to the place you’ve grown accustomed to writing? Or can you just pick up and go?
I write best in my own house, though I will pick up my laptop and write in bed, on the couch, at the table, lounging on my back porch….  Sometimes I have typed away in my car while on my lunch break at work.  I’d love to type away at a coffee shop, and I’ve attempted it from time to time.  It’s great for people watching, etc.  But it can also be distracting with so much movement going around me.  However, my last book was written at a spa retreat while sitting in a room filled with people by a fireplace. I got some really awesome writing in that weekend.

Now it’s your turn!  Go. 🙂

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7 thoughts on “How do I write?”

  1. P.S
    I LOVE Nat King Cole. And re-reading over this, I think this would be a fantastic post that I’ll surely write about in the future (It’s a great and simple way to ask some of my most commonly asked questions)
    ~SAT

      1. Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E” (the multi-lingual version) gets me every time, but I think “Mona Lisa” is probably one of my favorites of his. Tony Bennett is another musician I can’t get enough of! And Elvis. And Frank. And Lou Monte. ha. It never ends.
        ~SAT

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