|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.)
(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!
(smiling at something Lucy did): Hmm?
(standing in front of the TV and flailing my arms): Are you listening to me? You're supposed to be my muse. Inspire me!
: (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.)
(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?
(uncapping her fuchsia nail polish and filling the air with noxious fumes): You do this all the time, you know. Write about it. Simple.
(voice rising in frustration): Do what all the time? Write what?
(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.
(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.
(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.
: 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|
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|
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?