Monday, May 28, 2012

A conversation with my muse

Charis, still protecting her identity.
Photo by Jiri Hodan
Courtesy of Public Domain Pictures
Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

So last night Charis and I were talking. (Well, I was talking. She was filing her nails and watching a rerun of I Love Lucy. She thinks she has something in common with Lucille Ball, but other than the red hair, I just don't see it.)

Me (fists clenched and pacing in front of the computer): Charis, you've got to help me! I don't know what to write for tomorrow's blog post. It's "May I tell you something about writing?" day, and I'm out of ideas. Give me something. Quick!

Charis (smiling at something Lucy did): Hmm?

Me (standing in front of the TV and flailing my arms): Are you listening to me? You're supposed to be my muse. Inspire me!

Charis: (looking at me and flipping her perfect red hair over her shoulder): Listen: don't yell at me. I don't have to be here, you know. Your cable is crap, and you never have anything decent to eat. Maybe I should go back to Bermuda. (She starts to stand up.)

Me (sighing and sitting down in front of the computer): No, no. Stay here, okay? I just need a blog post topic. Can you give me one? Please?

Charis (uncapping her fuchsia nail polish and filling the air with noxious fumes): You do this all the time, you know. Write about it. Simple.

Me (voice rising in frustration): Do what all the time? Write what?

Charis (suddenly beside me with her face two inches from mine; I notice she's been drinking my Pinot Grigio and make a mental note to apologize to my husband for blaming him): Write. About. What. You. Need. To. Do. In. Order. To. Write.

Me (thinking out loud): You mean like the post I did about my quirks, except this time focusing on my writing quirks? Hmm, that's not bad.

Charis (standing in the doorway): Of course it isn't. It's a great idea. Now if you'll excuse me, there's somewhere I have to be.

Me: Charis, wait! When will you be back?

But she was already gone.

* * *

Fast-forward to this morning:

I haven't seen Charis since last night. I hope she's not taking another three-month leave of absence. I've been mulling over a new story idea and could definitely use her help. Oh, well. She's fickle, but I like her anyway.

Anyway, as Charis suggested, today I'm going to write about some of my writing habits. I'm sure I share a lot of them with other writers, but some may seem a little quirky.


Photo by Petr Kratochvil
Courtesy of Public Domain Pictures
1. As you might have noticed in my conversation with Charis, I'm a pacer. Whenever I get stuck on a scene or can't think of the right word or am having trouble with ideas, I get up and walk around. Something about the act of moving seems to help my mind break free of its clog so I can think again. I'm very specific about my pacing, though: it has to be done in a straight line, back and forth, and woe to the person (or animal) who gets in my way. Just ask our cat.

2. I write best in the morning, before everyone else is awake. I do write late at night as well, but the words usually come more slowly and I find myself taking nap breaks. Sometimes those breaks last all night.

Image courtesy of John De Boer
rgbstock.com
3. I can't begin writing in the morning unless I have a cup of coffee beside me. I don't have to drink it; it just has to be there.

4. I need silence when I write. Otherwise, I can't hear the voices in my head.

5. If my writing is going really slowly, I make myself work in 100-word bursts. I'll write 100 words, then get up, walk around, get a snack, read a few pages of some book... Seeing my word count increase this way makes me feel productive, even if most of the words will need to be tossed out later.

Image courtesy of  Billy Frank Alexander
rgbstock.com
6. When I write longhand, which I often do when I'm   brainstorming a new idea, I cover about half of each page with doodles of flowers and faces. I don't know why.

7. Like most writers do, I usually keep a pen and a small notebook with me so that I can capture the ideas that come to me when I'm away from my computer. If I don't have a notebook, I'll write on whatever I can find--the backs of receipts, notes from my son's school, my hand, the arm of the guy standing next to me... (Okay, I only did that once. He wasn't as thrilled about my idea as I was.)

8.  I always write the first draft of poems in longhand. I feel more connected to the words that way.

9. I have a bad habit of wanting the first page of a new story to be absolutely perfect before I move on to the next page. Even if I end up changing the beginning after the whole piece is written, I still need to polish it as much as possible before I can go on with the rest of the story.

10. I act out dialogue as I write it, facial expressions and all. (This is yet another reason I rarely write in public.)

11. When the words are flowing, I go into a writing trance, and when I come out of it, I sometimes find myself chewing on the neck of my shirt. I have no idea why I do this, but it's probably a good thing that my writing uniform consists mainly of old T-shirts.



So tell me, what are your writing quirks?

39 comments:

  1. Wow. 3, 7 and 9 sound exactly like me! I think I might try the 100 word bursts thing - that might be a good way to at least get something on the page, even if it's not much!

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    1. I find them really helpful--and unintimidating!

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  2. great idea for a post, shame you didn't think of it, haha----and dana, you keep making me feel kinda bad---my only quirk is i write when i want to share something--i gotta get more out-there ;)

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    1. LOL

      I think wanting to share something is a perfect reason to write!

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  3. Lol, I have no process whatsoever. But it was fun to read this and see how I might settle in to something a little more regular!

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    1. It takes several years to develop a process that works. Mine is still evolving.

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  4. Great post! I need silence to write too. I do my writing in the afternoons when the kid is napping. I try to write in the evenings after he's gone to bed, but I'm usually tired and I'm trying to schedule myself to do networking then instead.

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    1. Thanks! There seem to be only a handful of writers like us who prefer silence. :)

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  5. I have GOT to get back to writing my poetry. Dana...I need a kick in the butt. I like the idea of 100 word bursts...not too much pressure. I can write 100 words. Good idea, Thanks!!

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  6. you couldve spread that into 2 posts! love your quirks!

    i write whenever & wherever i find a spare moment, best when no one is home requiring my services!

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    1. Thanks! Nope, I like it as one. :)

      I think it's great that you can write whenever and wherever. I need to have set times.

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  7. I like to write in silence, too. You're right - it helps you hear the voices inside your head better!

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  8. Aww you're like me! If I've got to write something I tend to get up early, before everyone else and sit with a nice cup of coffee and type away :)

    This was a great post :) So sweet that you write out your poems like that! I totally understand what you mean when you say it makes you feel more connected to the words!

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  9. I need the early morning, the coffee, the silence to be productive. And I need to get up and down frequently or I think I'll explode. I'm good at being still, just not when I'm writing.
    Love your muse. She's a hoot.

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  10. I would think it would be essential to have a quiet house in order to write! You and your muse; you guys hold the most interesting conversations!

    betty

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  11. I loved your post. You are hilarious! I don't really write much at all, but I always THINK about writing. I'm one of those procrastinators, I guess. Get everything done, and THEN write. Well, it never all gets done. You inspire me, though!

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    1. Aw, thanks! I'm glad you can find some inspiration in my posts. :)

      I'm willing to bet that your house is a lot cleaner than mine. Cleaning is the something that never seems to get done here. LOL

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  12. I envy you morning writers--I am a night owl, in writing and pretty much everything else. I try so hard to start writing work in the morning on weekends, but I'm pretty much useless until dusk!

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    1. Mornings weren't always so good for me. I grew to like them more after I had kids and saw how tired I was at the end of each day. :)

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  13. #10 is a great way to write good dialogue, but I find it's better if you really know how to act as well.

    Quiet. I used to be like you in that regard...that is, until I started visiting other countries (especially Asia). Here I am bombarded by barking strays, roosters, motorcycles sas mufflers and other UFO's.

    These days I could write in a wind tunnel listening to Hendrix on 47 volume. lol

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    1. I can't imagine writing with all that noise! :)

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  14. You hear voices in your head? Thought of seeing a doctor? ;)

    I act my books out in my front room which makes for an intersting scene when the MC is a woman.

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    1. LOL That must be quite the sight for the neighbors! ;)

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  15. Number 10 made me laugh out loud and then I realized why people stare at me in public!
    Very funny post.
    Heather

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  16. Depending on what I'm writing, I like to either seek answers in my own head or read something from another writer that motivates me in my own writing. Sometimes another writer is my muse and sometimes I am my own muse. I do my best concocting of ideas in the shower. For some reason I have my best ideas while shampooing. However, I am pathetic at getting dressed and ready (the lotion, face products, make-up, hair drying, clothes picking out, etc.) quickly, and tend to take at least an hour and by then I've forgotten all my key ideas. Maybe I need a notepad in the bathroom!

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    1. Oh, and I am so with you on the early morning writing with the cup of coffee handy. And the silence is a must. I am very creative and alive at night, but just not with writing.

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    2. I forget a lot of my ideas, too. I tend to have my best ones just before I fall asleep, and I either conk out before I can write them down or I'm just too lazy to stick my arm out from under the covers and grab my notebook and pen. LOL

      Silence and coffee: the best writing combination!

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  17. I have pretty much one requirement when I sit down to read or write. White noise, such as the sound of a lawnmower or a dog barking in the distance, is fine and even desirable. What I can't handle is music or voices.

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    1. I'm with you. White noise would be okay, but music is the worst thing for my concentration.

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  18. Dana I have to write (type) on my laptop I don't like writing pen and paper style, too slow for me. I sit in the lounge laptop on lap and the tv is on. I switch off completely when I am engrossed in the story that I am writing.

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    1. My thoughts are faster than my pen as well, so I usually only write poetry or do brainstorming using pen and paper.

      Thanks for sharing your process!

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