The last time I posted I spoke of my daily struggle which involves an elephant and prose, my “pushing an elephant up a mountain” which is getting words down on the page.
Below are the questions a survey of international authors answered recently which explored their “rituals of writing”. Since I spoke of the feel and magic-like quality I sense as I get to writing, I figured a more technical exploration is in order beyond the hocus pocus and voodoo of the whole process.
How do you get started writing?
When I am filing at the office, coffee is the trick, I need to get at least two cups of java down before I hit the keyboard. Usually, it is during that second cup I get through my final review of notes and material before I tackle the precious and almighty lede.
When I’m writing at home, an espresso and some peanut butter and toast is a must. I’ll look at the blank page, look away, come back, try and write, feel disgusted with what is on the page, and then I start again…espresso…a snack…stare at the blinking cursor then throw something down, anything really, again.
How do you avoid getting started writing?
Internet. One of our greatest research tools is my worst anchor to getting started. Sometimes it brings that spark of an idea and other times, the variety and options available just a click away slow me down or simply take me away. Once I do my personal online daily check-ins, that is when I enter “avoiding writing” territory.
Where do you write?
Anywhere, wherever and whenever an idea hits me. Coffee shops, libraries, hotel internet lounges and business centres, home and the office. At home, it is in the office or with laptop perched on the coffee table as I sit on the couch.
What is the optimal creative atmosphere?
Background noise is the key for me, not too loud but a nice subtle hum or hiss in the background. At home, bad, bubble gum scripted, peripheral, light movies work best- thank the lord for Michael Bay. Complete silence is a death knell for me and writing.
Idiosyncrasies: dress, food, furniture, etc.
When I’m at home, have to be in pjs bottoms or hospital pants and one of three favourite t-shirts. I can’t write at home while wearing work clothes, just can’t be done. I mentioned Michael Bay movies in the background but other loud action films work too, such as the Matrix or Gone in 60 Seconds. If it is music, has to be something almost folky, ethereal or moody needs to be playing. Johnny Cash, Massive Attack, Neil Young or Bonobo are some of my favourite writing ride-along friends.
Do you actually like writing?
Some days, I am just not sure, remember my elephant analogy? There are days my back and shoulders are tired of pushing it up the mountain and being so close to its backside. Other days I think, “Does a bricklayer actually like laying brick everyday or hope to get something from it…every single day?” I don’t think so, he just lays brick and builds a wall.
So, for me some days, I’m just putting words down and creating a story, a blog post, a poem a short story…sooner or later a house gets built that I can step back admire…sometimes, it is just a forgettable wall.