“Writing Habits”

Since I first started seriously pursuing publication, I’ve developed a few quirks that help to put me in the mood for writing and to sustain it once I begin:
1. For me, nothing jars ideas loose inside my head better than a long run. Once I settle into a pace and successfully regulate my breathing, thoughts regarding my various projects start to flow. During many runs, I have patched plot holes and jump started many stalled plot engines.
2. A steady supply of Animal Crackers, Twizzlers, and Diet Pepsi. I think, sometimes, I’m motivated to write because I’m jonesing for my treats.
3. Write a little; nap a little. I very commonly reward myself for spending a prolonged period writing with a ten-to-twenty minute nap. During which time, the next scene often appears to me and chases me back to my den and desk.
4. Speaking of my den and desk, that is the only place I write, which makes me wonder why I even own a laptop. The next time it sits on my lap will be its first.
5. I work best when the house is empty; however, that is rarely the case. Therefore, I do my best to drown out the noise of daily living by turning on what I call my “noisemaker.” It’s actually a “white noise” machine designed as a sleep aid for light sleepers (think of the sound of a room air conditioner or a fan). Its gentle hum prevents me from becoming distracted by life outside of my den’s French double doors.
6. I always begin a writing session by rereading and making necessary revisions to whatever I completed in my last writing session.
7. I put on clothes that help me to feel “writerly,” which for me is typically a bohemian-grunge look: barefoot, a pair of my most comfortable jeans, and a favorite graphic t-shirt (in the winter time, over a white, long-sleeved, waffle-knit or flannel shirt). I have no idea why this is my image of a writer.
8. If the ideas aren’t flowing, I’ll go do something, anything else until they do. I refuse to wage war with writer’s block. I love to write, but sitting still for prolonged periods is almost impossible for me.
9. I like to shower right before I begin writing. It seems to energize me, wash away all that is unrelated to my work-in-progress, and puts me in a fresh state-of-mind.
10. I review Elmore Leonard’s “Ten Rules of Writing.”
Those are a few of my peculiarities. What about you? What puts you in the mood?

3 thoughts on ““Writing Habits”

  1. Mmm… Twizzlers & animal crackers! Two things I’ve missed very much during my time in Holland.

    As for me, I put on my most comfortable clothes, disconnect from the internet, and re-read my last bit of writing. I take breaks to check my e-mail/twitter/blogs when I need a short rest. When I get stuck, I can usually take my dog on a walk or nap. I take my iphone with me on walks so I can record messages for myself as I think of things. I seem to get a lot of my ideas while I’m showering, as well, and sometimes find myself in there repeating a phrase over and over until I’m done so I don’t forget.


  2. When I used to write a weekly column for my school newspaper, I used to just go to the library or a bookstore and read up a bunch on whatever topic I wanted to write about, then the column mostly just wrote itself once I had collected the facts I wanted to include. I never experienced the slightest amount of “block” when it came to the opinion side of editorial writing, whether it was for my own column or the “In Our Opinion” section, which includes two editorials for each issue that are not credited to any author, but are just supposed to represent the views of the entire editorial staff.


  3. I have a pair of pajama pants with Day of the Dead sugar skulls all over them. I call them my Thinking Pants. Generally I’ll set myself up on the corner of the couch with an IV of Coke/Pepsi and iTunes.


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