Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My Top Ten Writing Quirks

Hello Bloggy friends! ^_^  Today I decided to lighten the mood a bit and just sort of "go with the flow".  I have a couple of other posts in the making, but they're taking longer than I'd like and I wanted a break, so I decided to write down the top 10 quirks I have as a writer.  I got the idea from an interview with Anne Elizabeth Stengl over here:


It seemed like such a neat idea, I decided to do one of my own.  And you might notice, that some of our quirks are similar, but that's not on purpose... its just the truth of it. :)

So here we go in no real order whatsoever. :)

1) No music or noise around.

I don't know why, but I've never been able to listen to music as I write.  I think it's because I have to hear the words I'm putting down on paper in my head as I type them.  Sometimes I can listen to soft music in the background, but usually they have to be strictly instrumental and the language cannot be in English or I get distracted by listening to the lyrics.  I have actually created a play-list for two of my stories in my media player, but I don't listen to them as I type; instead I listen to them as I'm doing other things to sort of help me keep in mind the mood of my story and what it is about.  But I've never been able to give my stories or my characters songs of their own... it just doesn't work.

Also, if there is other noise around or things happening around me, unless I'm left alone and completely zone out (which doesn't happen often) I simply can't concentrate.  I've tried, but it so rarely actually works, that half the time I just don't write if there's any noise around.

2) I write best when I'm supposed to be doing something else.

This is sort of a dirty little secret of mine. *blush*  I think it's the procrastinator in me.  But if there's something else I'm supposed to be doing, I'll often leave my lap-top open on a table or counter-top nearby so that I can write something down quick if it comes to me suddenly.  I've found that a lot of my favorite stuff has come to me while in the middle of doing the dishes or folding laundry or something like that.  I used to do this with a pen and notebook, but over the years it became harder for me to write out actual scenes long-hand.  Ideas are fine, but not scenes.  I don't know why.  Besides, its easier not to smudge the writing with dish-hands when you use a computer instead of paper. :)

3) Standing up while typing helps ideas flow.

This one is tied with #2.  I like to sit down and type, of course, but I've found that there's something about standing up to type that just makes the ideas come better.  I'm not sure if the standing helps with focus or what... it just seems to work.    I'm hoping that once I get moved out and have a new writing area designated and decorated to my liking, I'll be able to focus better while sitting down. lol!

4) Brainstorm out loud

I do this a lot.  Especially while I'm working on something else.  Or driving.  I'll talk and mutter to myself about ideas, sometimes even speaking out a scene sentence by sentence as it comes to me.  I even pace sometimes while muttering.  Then I'll pause to go and write down what I just said.  For a while I started carrying around a pocket voice recorder to help me with this... I still do this, but the words never come as easy when I'm trying to record them.  Instead, I use the recorder to try and talk through issues I'm having with my stories.  I don't dictate scenes into the recorder... instead I sort of have a one-way interview with myself about the different aspects of the story and how it all works together and what's supposed to happen and what isn't happening... that sort of thing.  Any ideas I have while recording, I can then play back and listen to later to use in my stories. :)

5) Journal instead of Outlining

I used to say I was a Pantster through and through.  I don't think that's quite as true anymore.  I no-longer just sit down and write everything as it comes to me... instead, I sit and jot down plot points and ideas and thoughts and character names and so forth.  I make notes of important parts of the story, but I try to leave things relatively vague so that the story has room to tell itself.  Then, as I'm writing the story through, if I come to a block or need help with a scene or a character, I journal about it.  It's sort of like how I record one-way interviews with myself, only this time I actually write the stuff out.  It does look sort of like diary entries... and they usually start out something like, "Ok, I just had a really cool idea... what if..." or like "Ugh!  I'm having trouble with so-and-so... he just won't do what he's supposed to!..."  And yeah, I end up fighting with my characters a lot this way, but I also have found that I work through the story problems much better when I can sort of ramble about them to myself or to someone else, whether it's on paper or recorded.

6) I almost never write an actual scene long-hand... almost never.

Very true.  I'm not sure when it happened, but sometime over the past 10 years or so, I've lost the ability to think in the terms of a "scene" when I'm writing long hand.  I can journal, I can write poetry... sometimes I can write blog-posts or parts of short stories, but only very rarely can I actually get myself to write an actual scene from one of my stories long-hand.  I don't know why.  Sometimes I force myself to do it, just to see if I can get the creative juices flowing (and every once in a great while, doing this helps me break through a block), but a lot of the time the scenes just seem shallow and no where near as good as the idea itself.  Besides, I can type almost as fast as I can think, and that's a big help when it comes to writing scenes for my books.

7) I absolutely WILL NOT skip ahead

Also very true.  I just can't force myself to skip ahead and write a scene out of order.  Instead, I add comments to my documents and write notes out in notebooks to remind me of future scene ideas.  If I get stuck in a scene, I'll sit and stare at my document for hours, days, even weeks on end trying to figure out what's going on and why I can't seem to move forward, but I won't write a scene before its time.

I think this has to do with figuring out the story.  You can't write something if you don't know it... if my story won't move forward, then something must be wrong somewhere, and I should go back and find out what it is and fix it before moving on.  That will help the flow too. :)

8) I have a list of novels I go to when I need help with a scene

My bookshelves are stacked with all kinds of books, but I have one section in particular that I keep close to the front for easy access.  I use the books in this section to help me when I run into problems with certain scenes.  Some of the books have pencil markings in the margins that mark notes and wording and character or scene development that I admire.  (I don't like writing in books too often, so when I do, I use a light pencil so it's easily erased.)  Just the other day I used some of these books... I was having trouble with a scene where my character was thrown into a dungeon, and I was drawing a blank as to what a good dungeon scene might look like.  So I went over, pulled a few of these books down, and flipped through them... I read several chapters of dungeon scenes and made notes in a notebook I had beside me, and when I was done, I had a pretty good idea of how I was going to finish the dungeon scene in my own story. :D

9) I am most active in writing at night

I wake up at night... sort of "come alive".  No, I'm not a vampire, but I definitely get more alert as the sun goes down.  I'll sit up and write or read or do some other sort of activity until I start getting drowsy around 2 or 3am, and sometimes I'll just read until I fall asleep with the book lying on my face, or type until I doze off with my head on the keyboard.  I'm not sure why this is, but I definitely write more productively late at night.

10) I like making up new creatures and cultures

I'm all for using the original mythological creatures and so forth... the fairies, the elves and dwarves and goblins and so forth... (In fact, in several of my books I'm sticking with the fae people and not trying to get to elaborate with my own made up stuff) but I really do like to make up my own. :)

Some of my own creations are similar to the originals with different traits or personality types that the originals never had... like in one of my stories, I have some elvish looking creatures called the Kirri who are actually more like dwarves personality wise... they are tall and slender, graceful and fair, but they live underground in their mines in the mountains, and their love is for stone and earth and precious metals and (for some reason that I never understood, but still knew to be true) water.  Especially running water.

Then you have the creatures that are totally made up from the get-go... like the Swarns in "Eldrei", or the Corvi in "Song of the Daystar".  There's just something that I find completely and utterly fun about creating a creature and culture that has never been used or seen before.

So there ya have it.  My top 10 writing quirks.  What are some of your writing quirks?  Are some of them similar to mine or are they totally different?  Why not blog about it.  If you leave a link to your post in the comments, I'd be interested to check them out. ^_^