What Writers Should Be Doing While Writing

Every writer has a list of naughty things they do when they write that all but destroys the movie magic imagery of the creative type whisking themselves away to sit at an old table to focus and bang out a novel in a single weekend on a typewriter. If you're looking for some insight into my dirty writing habits, then you're in the right place.

Before I get started with my list, however, I must bash upon the rocks those "movie writer" notions. Novels aren't written from start to finish in one sitting and no one can seclude themselves for a weekend to complete the task either. There's a reputation/stereotype that writers hang out in their slippers all day, and while that's a possibility, the writing life is anything but comfortable. There's a lot of mental anguish going on that requires slippers, coffee, snacks, and a few other things to get the job done. No writer can snap their fingers like Mary Poppins and have the story told.

Often, I have the TV on. This is not recommended, but sometimes there are other noises going on in my house between my child, my husband, and our pets, that letting them all blend in with the TV is a good strategy. I can tune out the TV and their noises with it. What's on? I watch episodes of Hoarders or sports (NFL, NHL), movies I've already seen, or the typical rerun of a sit-com. Basically stuff I don't mind missing the details of, but can enjoy.

Depending on the project I'll opt out of TV time and really delve into an intense writing session with iTunes open on my laptop and a pair of ear buds stuffed in my ears. If I want pumped up music, I head for Kesha, Rhianna, Katy Perry (I know, just go with it, pumping music = pumping writing). For writing Burning Spirit, I listened to the CD Barton Hallow by The Civil Wars over, and over, and over. Literally, I hit play, clicked "repeat," and zoned out, day after day, all November. I've since added a few Adele songs to my collection and they're hanging with Barton Hallow. It really just depends on the style I'm going for in the story. Brandi Carlisle is also a huge favorite for me and any of her three CDs can play on repeat too for a more intense story.

I also nibble. This is the no-no of Writerdom. You sit there eating/snacking/noshing on untold quantities of horrible foods, not really moving, and just consuming calories. Somehow, it's helpful. Plain popcorn works, Smarties and SweetTarts work, tortilla chips do it. Roughly any food I can eat without getting my hands messy is okay, that way I can still type between face stuffing without getting up to wash my hands. {I'm a big hand-washer.}

I'm also a wine drinker (a winery from my hometown makes the best wine), Starbucks coffee snob, grapefruit juice lover, and occasional tea drinker, particularly chai. Hot chocolate also gets the words flowing.

[WARNING: Consumption of wine or any other alcohol during writing should only be done during the first draft stages and never before or during a project which will be immediately turned in. Write responsibly and always edit when sober.]

There's also a good, healthy amount of talking to myself that goes on as I'm thinking out plot, restating what it is I'm trying to accomplish to get a better idea of it, and providing voices to my characters so I can hear them. Some characters have really clear voices I can imagine no problem, and others I need to animate for them, so a fair amount of one-sided jibber jabber usually does the trick for me.

Basically, you need to do what works for you. Keep things around you that will encourage sitting still and working. If it's a distraction, then get rid of it. Only have the people and things near you that will aid your work, not hinder it.

What you "should" be doing while writing, is unique to you and what helps you work, enriches the experience, and makes a great story as an end result for your readers.

What's on your naughty writing list? Leave comments below.

1 comment:

  1. I watch the stock market roll by. It helps get the emotions flowing.