Saturday, April 08, 2017

The Writer's Life Tag

I'm snurching this from Mary Horton at Sunshine and Scribblings.  There's an old joke that writers would much rather write and talk about their writing than actually write.  Sad, but sometimes true.  I'm in the throes of rewrites for "Cloaked" and just... needing to blog a bit instead of fix and change and add and subtract stuff today.  So let's have a bit of fun with this tag, shall we?

Write-fuel: What do you eat/drink while writing?  Generally, a warm beverage of some sort.  At home, I'll make a mug of tea or hot chocolate because I'm writing after my kids go to bed, and I can't have much caffeine after about 7pm or I won't sleep.  If I'm writing at Starbucks on a Saturday morning, I'll have a hot mocha of some sort, usually.  Though sometimes a cold something, if it's really hot out.  Once in a while I munch something, but that's useless calories because once I'm writing, I'm not noticing what I'm putting in my mouth all that much, so I try not to nibble while I write.

Write-sounds: What do you listen to while writing?  Bobby Darin and movie soundtracks, mostly.  For "Cloaked," I've been listening to the scores for Shane and The Big Country a lot, but also a bunch of Aaron Copland's western compositions too.

Bobby Darin reading... not something I wrote, alas.

Write-vice: What’s your most debilitating distraction?  My email.  Also, Cowboy, if he's around, because he will pester me with affectionate nonsense.

Write-horror: What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you while writing?  I have been suddenly and deliberately attacked by spiders on several occasions, and that is terrible because I have to stop writing to hunt them down and kill them or else I will not be able to concentrate for fear that they are going to renew their offensive.

Write-joy: What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you while writing, or how do you celebrate small victories?  As I don't know if I can choose a best thing, I will answer the second half.  I celebrate small victories by rejoicing with my best friend over hitting a word count goal or figuring out a plot problem or whatever.  Sometimes I also eat something chocolatey.  When I finish a draft of a major project, I sometimes buy myself a little something, like a book or a DVD or a coffee drink of epic proportions.

Speaking of epic... 

Write-crew: Who do you communicate with or not communicate with while writing?  My best friend is also my writing mentor.  We often write "together" via instant-messenger, by which I mean that we will chat for a few minutes while we each brew tea or hot chocolate and choose the music we're going to listen to, discuss story stuff a bit, and then drift off into our respective imaginary worlds.  We'll pop back now and then to say something or other, and then at the end of our stints, discuss how things went, share what we wrote, etc.  We freely share works-in-progress to encourage each other, help each other get through tough spots, brainstorm solutions to problems, etc.

Write-secret: What’s your writing secret to success or hidden flaw?  My secret to success is probably my stubborn desire to finish things.  I hate leaving a story unfinished.  I've done it, and it bugs me.  That's also my hidden flaw -- sometimes I'm too stubborn to give up on a story that isn't worth my time.

Write-spiration: What always makes you productive?  Nothing.  Nothing always makes me productive.  There are times when I don't write for days.  Or weeks.  And there are times when I sit down to write and spend ninety minutes writing 600 words.  Other times, I write 2,000 words in two hours.  Both of those happened this week.  However, the thing that generally helps me be productive is knowing what happens in the scene I'll be working on before I sit down to write.  If I don't know where it's headed, I waste valuable writing time on thinking and imagining my way through the scene, and I can do that while I'm folding laundry or brushing my teeth, so I should not be leaving it until writing time.

Sometimes, of course, I think I know where a scene is going, and then it doesn't.  Which is what happened the other evening, when my Bad Guy flat-out refused to talk about what I expected him to.  In fact, he wouldn't say anything at all for about twenty minutes, just leaned tantalizingly on a fence and smirked at me.  And then finally said all manner of things I wasn't expecting, didn't really like, and later realized perfectly set up two things later in the story.  Heh.

No, Luke Evans isn't playing my Bad Guy.  But he could.

Write-peeve: What’s one thing writers do (or you do) that’s annoying?  Honestly, I basically never read those blog posts where people interview their characters or share scenes of their WIPs.  They make me shake my head and say, "Why?"  I don't mind chattering endlessly about the process of writing, sharing the giddy joy and the bitter pitfalls, but the things you're writing don't need to be shared with the world willy-nilly until you are finished with them.  Share them with one or two close writing friends, yes, absolutely.  I've already said that I share nearly every sliver of fiction I write with one particular person.  I often also seek feedback from a few other trusted people.  But I don't wave my half-crafted creative shreds around to attract attention, and I don't feel any need to watch others do so.

Write-words: Share one sentence paragraph from a project, past or present.

He was too late to save his men, but he could still take down the monster that had destroyed them. And if he died in the process, so be it. He had failed to do the one thing he was supposed to do: keep his men alive. That knowledge filled him with despair. Despair and rage.

(from "The Better Part of Valor," still one of the best things I've written.)

I'm not tagging anyone, mostly because I wasn't tagged with this myself.  But if you're a writer and want to fill this out, have at it!


  1. Attacked by spiders--oh, NO! Don't let them get away! KILL THEM ALL.


    I have a hard time imagining eating/drinking anything while I'm writing; it would just feel too . . . weird. I want to be INSIDE my head and I can't be engaging my senses (except my hearing, with music) while I'm doing that.

    That's really interesting that you feel that way about sharing your "incomplete" writing . . . For me, it's different. I have no problem with putting writing snippets, etc. out there for people to see; because, for me, there's no difference between sharing a writing snippet and sharing a story idea in the first place. In my mind, they're one and the same, pretty much . . . and sharing the idea, itself, is the thing that I always hesitate over. There are some ideas that I will not share with ANYONE, not until they've "germinated" further and I'm completely satisfied with them; but once I'm ready to tell somebody "I have this story in my head . . ." I'm also ready to share bits and pieces of the writing itself.

    I suppose it might go back to the nature of my writing process: All the really important work--the imagining, and re-imagining, and refining, and a substantial chunk of the word choice/dialogue--is done in my head before I even sit down at the computer; so if something's actually made it onto the computer screen in the first place, you can be pretty darn sure it's almost exactly the way I want it. And after I've reached that stage, if somebody wants to see a little piece of it, my reaction is pretty much, "eh, why not?"

    Random: I watched "Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day" last weekend, and I enjoyed it! I was right about Miss Pettigrew--she really is just like my mom :-) A very cool character. And I loved Joe, too. Michael and Delysia were . . . okay; not my favorites; but that was okay because I was SUPER invested in the whole Miss Pettigrew/Joe angle and that gave me plenty to enjoy. And the costumes were lovely :-)

    1. If spiders stay out of my house, I leave them alone. If they invade my territory, they must die.

      The thing is, when I'm writing, once I'm in "the zone," I don't notice that I'm drinking or eating. I'll often finish a writing stint and discover that my tea or coffee has completely vanished, and I don't even remember drinking it. Other times, I drink about four swallows of it, then it sits there the rest of the night because I forget about it.

      Writing is a process of discovery for me. If I know all of what happens and have everything totally thought out ahead of time, I don't bother writing the story. Knowing too much about it takes the joy out for me. Which is why I'm more pantser than planner, though I need a general plan (they're more like guidelines, really). I wish I could write it all in my head and then just transcribe it! That sounds amazing.

      How cool you enjoyed Miss Pettigrew! I liked her and Joe the most too, though Michael amused me greatly. Delysia... um, well, let me just say I agreed with Michael that a good spanking would have improved her greatly in many ways. Not a popular sentiment, I suppose, but one Miss Pettigrew probably would have agreed with, lol!

    2. That's exactly what Charity says!!! She told me she CAN'T plan it all out beforehand or she'll lose all interest in writing the story down. Me, I love planning everything out . . . I sit and envision the scene in my head, over and over and over, until it's PERFECT and I know just how I want it. And then I write it down. I'm not saying that *some* revision doesn't happen while I'm writing--there is a little bit, generally, and sometimes more than a little--but the end product is usually very close to that thing I envisioned. I've had the final scene in my novel planned out down to the tiny details for MONTHS now; and I'm not tired of it at all!!! It just builds, and builds, and builds in my head until I'm so excited to write it down, I can hardly stand it. That's why I hate it when I'm in school and don't have time to write . . . because I HAVE IT ALL IN MY HEAD and it's almost bursting and I want so badly to see it finished on the page.

      Michael was definitely very cute. And very sweet. I liked watching him; but he wasn't . . . my type, I guess? But he was a cool character. And I enjoyed his rapport with Miss Pettigrew :-)

    3. Jessica, well, glad I've got good company :-)

      I can rehearse scenes ahead of time. I often do. But I know they will change as I write them. Lines that my characters ran in my head, that I even wrote down because they were awesome -- they'll morph when I'm writing the actual scene. Nature of the beast, for me.

  2. Spiders, huh?

    I catch mine and take them outside. Or I permit them to remain, provided they stay over there. I'm pretty much a live and let live, share your home with nature, kind of girl, except the miller moths. They must die. They're horrible pests and leave brown fuzz everywhere. Also, wasps, because kitty doesn't deserve stung.

    I listen to instrumentals when I write during the day, but I've found nighttime writing is best in silence.

    I'm a perfectionist, so I don't share anything "in progress" -- I share it with my beta when I'm done, and then the world can look at it, but I don't talk much about my book plots with others or want to share a WIP.

    My pet peeve is people who complain about writing. Yes, it's hard. If it wasn't hard, it wouldn't be worth doing; and it's the admitting it's hard part that means you're doing it right, because you realize you're not a genius on the first go, and this could be polished. Now stop your whining and get back to work! ;)

    1. Charity, you are a kind and lovely person. Remind me not to sleep over at your house, though.

      I do my best writing in the morning. And yet I do most of my writing at night right now. That's when I have time. Oh well! It still works.

      I'm severely anti-whining, so I'm with you on that pet peeve.

  3. I'm always interested to read how other writers deal with the business of writing.

    Totally agree with you - thinking about how a scene pans out while brushing your teeth is a much better route than chewing on a pencil while you sit at your desk...not writing.

    1. Rosie, exactly! Save the writing time for writing. Do the planning while folding laundry or emptying the dishwasher or whatever. Makes a huge difference.

  4. So, it's late at night and I should be in bed, but I had to write a quick comment. Your little snippet of a story at the end "The Better Part of Valour" had me hooked, so I went and read the whole thing. I might add, I've never seen Combat! either, (as I understand Saunders is a character off the show)... it really moved me. I loved it. Seriously, that was some incredible writing going on there! If I can write my stories like that I would be one happy girl. ;) I try, but man, sometimes it just feels like I'm wasting my time by scribbling meaningless words onto paper. So thanks for the encouragement.

    ~Miss Meg

    1. Oh, Miss Meg, what a sweet comment! I am so thrilled that you read TBPOV. Yes, it's based around Combat!, but it takes place before the show begins and only has one character from the show (Saunders), so it's pretty accessible for non-fans, which is one reason I chose to quote it.

      Thank you for your kind words! Like I said, I think it's one of the best things I've ever written. I'm glad it encouraged you!

      I had been writing seriously for fifteen years when I created TBPOV, and I have done plenty of meaningless scribbling, believe me. Still do! I wrote 600 words tonight that I suspect will mostly get junked in the next draft. It happens. But sometimes you have to write the junk to get to the good stuff.


Agree or disagree? That is the question...

Comments on old posts are always welcome!

(Rudeness and vulgar language will not be tolerated.)