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Author Topic: More nosey questions
Member # 2354

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To continue goatboy’s numerous threads of nosey questions. . .

What idiosyncrasies do you engage in while you write?

For example: do you only write at night, during the day, only on rainy days? Do you have to have particular music, artwork, candles, liquor, M&Ms, etc? What do you do while you’re thinking of that perfect word – tap your fingers, pace, pet your dog/cat/gerbil/whatever, put in a load of laundry, make sure the kids are still alive, etc?

I’ll go first. As you can see by my time stamps, I’m a night owl. I prefer to write at night. I have to have a candle. I don’t know why. I have to have music pertinent to the mood of the piece I’m writing – usually instrumental – music with words distracts me. When I get stuck, I pace or go get more coffee or pet my doggies or look on here and see what you guys are doing.

Who’s next?

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Member # 2410

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I work at night because I'm an insomniac and I haven't as yet found a treatment that works for me. So... might as well do something with all that time.

I usually listen to CDs (the Beatles, Bach, Duke Ellington, and Ray Charles are particular favorites at the moment) and get up and pace relentlessly when I get stuck. I also have to have a glass of water handy because for some reason being thirsty distracts me too much to keep working.

[This message has been edited by ScottMiller (edited March 09, 2005).]

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Member # 2174

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I write at day because I'm a heavy sleeper. Used to get up at six in the morning to write before school, but I was so tired I gave up on that.
I have to have music, preferably the soothing kind: new age, folk, country. Marked preference for Emmylou Harris and the Innocence Mission.

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Member # 2136

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I am also an insomniac, but I'm a night owl by nature so my brain goes at top speed between midnight and 2am, my best writing time.

Occasionally though I am fortunate to wake up in the morning with a new story idea, often gleaned from dreams (or nightmares-- my excerpt in F&F right now is basically a straight retelling of one of my more potent dreams) and am able to get in a couple of great hours if I can write as soon as I wake up. Haven't been able to do that lately though as being a mom kind of limits free time in the mornings, and there is no such thing as a day off.

I usually listen to online music, typically a mix of classical and world, with a dash of new age (no commercials, lots of variety). The music is largely for the benefit of my baby girl, who sleeps in the room with my computer.

I have cats, but they hinder rather than help me write (sleeping on the keyboard etc.) so they are usually banished from the computer room.

So I guess I don't really have any idiosyncrasies, unless it is odd that I still have every story I've ever written including my first poem when I was six years old. All my old school spiral notebooks are still sitting on a shelf, with ideas from back in fourth grade that I still occasionally dip into. One time during a move I thought the box with all my scribbles in it got lost, and my heart nearly stopped beating.

I have a tendency to let ideas percolate a looooong time (or write the story from scratch as soon as I have a new idea, its a mixture). For instance, the basic idea for my novel-in-progress happened when I was thirteen and playing with an odd weed in the backyard. I've built an entire world from that weed.

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Member # 1923

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I have to grab time to write whenever I can. I rarely get near the computer unless I specifically make time to do it. I always have a notebook (usually a refill pad or small secretarial type notebook) to hand and a pen (obviously). I often wrestle with my three year old for the pen and have to write around his wonderful (ahem! doting mum here) drawings and "work". I try to have a different notebook for every story I'm working on, and I have a wicker basket full of them that lives (lurks) behind the sofa. I write while the family are watching tv (small house), listening to music, curled up on the sofa, in bed, wherever. Especially when the kids are asleep.

I think becuase I can't get a specific time to sit down and write I end up writing all the time (yes, even at work but just in my head or notes scribbled on paper - The only place I don't bring the notebooks is work or I'd get nothing done!)

Usually once a week I sit down at the computer and write up everything I possibly can. I try to do this more often, but with two computer techies in the house, and a Winnie the Pooh game to contend with, it's not always easy. I like listening to music when I do this - usually film scores, preferably classical.

Strangely enough, its a good way for me to work. I end up with lots of strings, but if I get stuck on one, there is always another to pick up. I've produced two novels, a number of short stories and have any number of works in progress.

Oh and last year I took parental leave on Fridays and could spend all day writing (or rather typing). It was heaven and the result is my novel The Penitent.

Just a different approach! I wouldn't actually avocate it.


[This message has been edited by RFLong (edited March 09, 2005).]

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franc li
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I don't think of myself as a morning person, but I do a lot of good work in the morning.
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Daniel Thurot

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I can write mostly any time, regardless of any music or the lack thereof in the background. But my ideal setup is mostly just making sure that my cute little girls Amy and Emilie aren't bouncing around in the hall. I always end up playing with them rather than working.

If I'm listening to music, classical is the best for writing. Dvorak and Mozart are my choices. Other than that -- my favorite artist Billy Joel. Nothing creates a mood better than some Cold Spring Harbor playing in the background.

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I ignore my family when I write: it drives them up the wall, where they get stuck, as I have fly-papered it.
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Member # 2327

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Let's see... when I write, it has to be complete and total silence... I can sometimes tolerate certain instrumental music (maybe an oriental meditative thing, as long as it doesn't put me to sleep), but words are distracting because I end up singing along. I usually have a pile of some sort of candy next to me (I'm rather addicted to Nips lately), and some form of caffeine (Mt. Dew, Jolt, Red Bull, etc.). I always have my doodle filled notebook next to me so that I can try to organize certain ideas that I happen to come up with, but are still too chaotic to put into the story (reference the story mapping thread). I usually end up writing at night mainly because that's about the only time I can get the house to be anywhere near quiet enough (hence all the caffeine).
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Member # 2354

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Mmmmm, Nips.
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Member # 2358

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I work in the day - with the bright Florida sunlight and the song of birds chirping.

Otherwise, I scare myself.

I write horror, the paranormal kind, and if I write at night, then every bump and noise makes me jump and I can't get a word in edgewise anyway, because I begin to see things... ghostie things... no no no.

Best to write horror stories in the daylight. Where it's safe.


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Member # 2213

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Florida sunshine...mmmmmmm. We could use a little of that up here in NY right now.

I usually write at night, because that's when I do my best work; but I can't be picky. I write when I have the time and inclination, and that mostly happens to be at night.

Classical or soundtrack music is best (Bach and Mozart for serious thinking, something with more melodic power, like a Williams movie soundtrack for fun). It sometimes helps to have something to munch on, but this forces me to exercise rigorously.

When I'm stuck at some point, I find that taking up activities other than writing (playing with my daughter, reading something, practicing piano, playing chess or a computer game, etc.) just ends up distracting me, and nothing gets done. Probably the most effective way I've found is just to start writing out different ways to proceed practically at random; after I get a few down, usually the best one kind of leaps out at me.

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Member # 2354

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Alynia - I can see where daytime writing for you would definately be best. I do not write horror but I have written scary scenes. I remember one time I was really involved in a super scary, intense scene and my husband came in the room and I did not hear him. He laid his hand on my shoulder and I about went through the ceiling.
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Member # 2062

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I do mine when the mood strikes. Usually I do my notebook filling rough drafts in the mornings, with a pot of decaf and CNN in the background. The biggest problem is the dog is now half blind and seeing the notebook on my lap believes I have a plate of food. So, she stands in front of me whining. Of course, being so blind, she sometimes forgets where the recliner is and stands staring at the wall.
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Member # 2354

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goatboy - I laughed reading about your poor blind dog, not because I'm a callous person but because I have four dogs and know exactly what you mean. I had a Cocker that was such a chow hound. She would eat first, ask questions later. It would not matter what it was; if she thought it was edible she'd eat it. Sometimes she'd even chew and then decide it wasn't food and spit it out. She was such a terror about that. I had to be very careful what I left lying around or dropped on the floor. I dropped an open bottle of medicine once and the pills scattered everywhere and I had to scoop her up and put her outside before she could eat them all and then decide they weren't food. If it was on the floor, it was hers.
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Member # 1957

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I write better when I'm awake, though sometimes I do my best thinking while asleep. Any time of day works, but quiet is a must.
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Member # 2391

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I write in the few hours between putting my daughter to bed and going to bed myself. Music of any kind distracts me, and my husband is under strict orders not to talk to me while I'm writing (which he takes with good humor). At the moment I have a bag of marshmallows next to my computer because they were all I could find during a sweet craving. I eat them when I have to stop and think about the story. Last night I tried spending 15 minutes clearing my mind before I wrote, and I was amazed at the results. I'm thinking that will become part of my routine from now on.


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Member # 1958

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This is wierd for me. I've writen in some really strange places. Some of my best ideas have come at work and I've writen a lot of stuff during my lunch break. It's probably because I'm already focused and conditions are 'write'. At home I have to have it quiet or with music that compliments the mood I'm trying to achieve. Another place I've had good luck is in the out-of-doors with pen and paper. I actually used pen and paper at work today and got some pretty good ideas. I don't think there is a perfect formula. It really depends on what works for you as an individual.


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Member # 1766

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I find that it is better to write scary stuff at night when it is scary. I get scared myself, and it seems to come through in the writing. I have written a few scenes that still make me uncomfortable today. As scary as it may seem, you should try it sometime and compare day scary vs. night scary.

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Member # 2387

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I write best at night--anything past about 11:00 is good. Of course, I also write better when I've got homework that I should be doing instead. *shifty eyes* (hey, why isn't there a smiley for that?)

I write to classical music and soundtracks, but more often soundtracks. I know exactly what mood I'm trying to create in my scene, and I pull out the soundtrack (and the song) to match it whenever I can. Unfortunately, my soundtrack collection isn't terribly impressive at the moment, so I don't always have what I'm after, but I'm working on that. I've got enough for a start, anyway. For example, I have all the Star Wars soundtracks except for Empire, which gives me a pretty broad range of stuff to go from. Same goes for Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings. And Phantom of the Opera, but the words distract me. Especially when "Music of the Night" comes on...

One of these days, I'm going to get organized about my writing so that I actually do it on a daily basis, instead of whenever I can get away with the procrastination, the way I do now. But that's not going to be today!

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Member # 2283

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I prefer to write in the afternoon, but with my work schedule being what it is, I usually end up doing most of my writing between 4 and 8 p.m. I've tried listening to music but it always ends up distracting me, especially if there are lyrics I know. When I hit a wall, I have a glass of wine (or 3) and open a different file. I've found that it helps to have several on the go. If I can't get into any of them, I just take a break for a while.
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Member # 2062

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TaShaJaRo, the biggest problem we're having with her blindness is feeding her treats. Sometimes the chicken fingers have some real fingers in them.

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Member # 2354

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Goatboy - yes, fingers are quite a lovely treat for my dogs as well and they do not have the excuse of failing eyesight. Your furgirl sounds like a sweetie. She reminds me of my Cocker which always makes me smile.
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