Writing Routines (Feat. a 10 question survey!)

First of all, on a completely unrelated note, I now have a facebook page. If anyone reading this has Facebook, ‘liking’ me would mean the world (there is no way to say that and not come off needy, believe me, I’ve tried. Damn fb lingo). (page is here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/CA-Allen/416143661895571

Now for the real topic of this post. For as long as I’ve been reading writer’s magazines- possibly longer, even- I’ve been FASCINATED by other writers’ writing processes. Not all the deep, “where do your ideas come from?” crap that we all hate to hear, but the mundane little things like knowing one person writes from their basement from the hours of 6 to 8 after work or that another writer writes entire stories on napkins before typing it up. The music you listen to (or don’t), the little goals you set, the chair or the floor you sit on, the notebooks or computers you use…why is all this so interesting to me? Beats me. I think that as a writer myself I’m just amazed at all the different ways we have of doing the same thing. Reading about the rituals and routines of others, no matter how mundane or bizarre, inspires me. Inspires me how? I don’t know, because I’m usually not the type to branch out and try anything new for myself. Though I’m often tempted.

So I thought I’d do up a survey of some simple questions about writing in the selfish hopes of getting some answers I will thoroughly love reading. So, whatever it is you do, I would LOVE to know. Do you:

  1. Listen to music? (if so, what type?)
  2. Handwrite or type? (and in/on what)
  3. have a best time of day to write new material?
  4. outline/make character sketches?
  5. have a set schedule for working or do you work mostly when motivated?
  6. have a ‘place’ you need to be to write? Where?
  7. carry ideas in notebooks, your head, or both?
  8. Any activities you like to do before or during writing that you feel help the process along?
  9. show your writing to anyone as you go?
  10. make revisions as you go or at the end? How many times on average do you think you revise a project before you consider it ready?

Please answer in the comments! I’ll start by giving my own answers:

  1. I can’t concentrate with any kind of music going on. I wish I could so I could make awesome playlists, and there are songs I like to listen to because they remind me of scenes or characters, but not DURING writing time. Sometimes when I write poetry I listen to music without words, new agey or classical stuff, but that’s about it.
  2. Type novels. Handwrite poetry and then type it up later. Often I don’t look at it for a while in the space between.
  3. Morning, or more accurately, whenever I wake up. RIGHT when I wake up.
  4. I build up the world and characters in my head as I go but it’s rare that I put anything on paper, and *very* rare that I know where I’m going with my story when I begin.
  5. Set schedule. If I don’t, the fear of writing will take over and I’ll never get anything done. Sad but true.
  6. Not really. My room is where I normally write, but sometimes I’ll switch it up to another part of the house or (on rare occasions) the library or a coffee shop. I would really love to have my own little ‘office space’ devoted ENTIRELY to the pursuit of creative endeavors, but thus far I do not, so.
  7. My head. Sometimes I’ll write lines of poetry or ideas for parts of novels or characters down on my iphone in ‘notes’, but that’s pretty rare.
  8. COFFEE. Coffee. The first thing I do waking up, every single day: make coffee. The second: usually something writing related. So the two are intertwined for me. I can totally start drinking coffee if I’m not writing, but I can’t start writing if I don’t have coffee.
  9. I’ve heard it works really well for some people but for me it’s just the death knell over whatever I thought I was creating. It used to be really tempting but I learned from trial and error. Show someone my work before it’s done? Yeah, it’s never getting finished.
  10. I wait until I’m done to make revisions, unless they’re so obnoxious I can’t ignore them. It usually doesn’t take me more than two rereads/edits to feel like I’m done. Not that the book is perfect by any means, just that I’m satisfied that I did my best at the time and it’s time to move on.

coffeeee sunrise-over-green-hills  silence schedule

(my ‘essentials’. Yeah, all my schedules have hands and feet.)

Do it, do it, DOOO IT!!! If you read this post, or even look at it, please answer at least a few of these questions, whichever ones strike your fancy (or all, if you’re feeling ambitious!) If you don’t, I’ll know 😉

I hope everyone’s well and I’ll see you next week!!



Filed under writing

6 responses to “Writing Routines (Feat. a 10 question survey!)

  1. 1. If I do listen to music, then it’s only softer music or awesome film scores. I especially am into How to Train Your Dragon and Monster’s INC. lately.
    2. TYPE. Always, always. I change and rearrange while I’m writing and I hate not being able to do that in a notebook. My thoughts fly right out of my head if I am busy re-writing something or moving something around and then the next thing I was going to put down is lost.
    3. Lunchtime! In the morning I get too distracted thinking about all the things I have to accomplish later, and at night I’m too tired.
    4. Character sketches are fun for me, and I do chapter outlines, but never anything too broad. I only really get into outlines to procrastinate from the actual writing, haha
    5. I like having spans of scheduled writing (like NaNoWriMo for example) because I rarely write when I don’t have goals set. That being said, I haven’t set any goals for myself in quite some time, and therefore have to writing to show for it.
    6. My bedroom or a local Starbucks are my favorite places to write. At home, I particularly like to work at a clean desk, with some favorite books nearby for inspiration. But since I tend to be too distracted at home, a nearby coffee location is always a treat.
    7. Definitely both. I’m very forgetful and am juggling multiple projects, so I have a notebook for each novel I’m currently working on, but keep a lot of character ideas in my head.
    8. Drinking definitely helps the writing process. I usually go for juice or coffee.
    9. DEFINITELY, but only a close writing friend of mine, a professor, or my girlfriend. I like to hear their feedback because I trust them and they know how I work best. I love constructive criticism, so once something is generally polished, I shoot it their way.
    10. I definitely revise as I go, so much so that it really tends to bog down my writing. I always get stuck in projects this way.

    Great questions! I’m always curious about this myself, and it was cool to read another young writer’s quirks.

    • xcaallenx

      Ahh, thanks for answering!! I really enjoyed reading about your process. I’m a little jealous of your ability to get constructive criticism along the way- I love it too but I have to wait until I’m done writing to get it, or my story dies. It does encourage me to finish though! 😛

      I also find cemented goals like NaNoWriMo INCREDIBLY helpful, as I also struggle with setting goals for myself (I keep changing what I want my goals to be and not accomplishing much as a result!) Are you doing Camp NaNo this year?

      • No problem! I loved answering your survey. I had never truly thought about my process before, so answering the questions helped me see my own routines or habits. 🙂

        I have never done camp NaNoWriMo, but I think I am actually going to give it a shot this year in order to expand on my previous NaNo project! I just set up my profile yesterday with a 30,000 word goal. Lowering the word count to about 1K per day is going to be helpful, since I have never really done a NaNoWriMo event in April before! Are you going to be participating?

      • xcaallenx

        Awesome!! Yeah, I’m going to participate. It’ll be my first year too! I’m going to use it to get going on book 3 😉 I think I’ll lower the bar a little too, aim for 40,000 words or so, which is about my comfortable pace when I get into something. I’m a little excited but mostly nervous…even though it’s a third book it’s not exactly planned out.

  2. I invited you to a private cabin on the Camp NaNo website if you wanted to join! Feel free to let me know if you want anyone else added to it. So far I’ve only invited one other person.

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