My Ten Writing Quirks

NaNoWriMo is now underway. I feared it ever since my friends and I agreed to tackle it. I think secretly I hoped we would all abandon the idea. I worried I had too much going on in life and edits. Now I am really glad I’m doing it.

Yes, there is still a lot going on. But I am writing anyway. My family will probably get aggravated at how busy I am. But I am glad to be “really” writing again.

My pace is better than I expected. I think I am banking words. You, know for the days when schedule won’t allow much time to reach my daily goal. But, we’ll see. It may also be true that I needed this nudge, to show me I can still commit and make this daily appointment with the page, despite all things that I have to do.

I am seeing a pattern develop, though, aside from NaNoWriMo. It seems like my best way of writing is to jump all-in tirelessly, until I finish. I run from the fear of not finishing.

Once I have decided to go with an idea that I really love and have committed to. I swim like a crazy person, cranking out the scenes–flying by the seat of my pants. I do it like I will drown if I stop. It seems like, for me, if I swim along at a calmer pace, I will lose momentum and not finish.

Maybe it’s a self trust issue, I don’t know. But this is what ends up happening when I am productive. In the times I am not productive, it seems to be when I have not set a goal to finish in some insanely short period of time.

I know not everybody works the same. For example, many writers work better when they plan it out and take their time. I guess I’m too haywire to do that well. I end up bored if I already know where the story goes completely.

So, this all has me wondering about individual habits other people have while writing. I will confess mine first:

1. I drink a lot of coffee. If I write late in the day, it’s hot tea.

2. I feel like I write my best in the morning, as soon as my coffee kicks in. I am more creative in the first part of the day.

3. I write entirely on the iPad. I feel more relaxed there. Then I move it to my laptop and add it to my manuscript file. I do that every day. Piecing it together.

4. I track daily word count and use a countdown spreadsheet to tell me how many days I have left to finish. This keeps me running, so to speak. I am more willing to work harder and longer when I can prognosticate how far and fast that will get me if I continue at that pace. I am impatient. When I see the difference it makes in the numbers, it keeps me encouraged. And the fast pace lets me get caught up in the story. Like someone else’s novel I can’t put down. So I am loving the Nano stats that tell me all this.

5. I edit only on the laptop.

6. I go to bed earlier because I look forward to the next morning’s writing.

7. I start each day with little or absolutely no idea what my characters will do next.

8. I plan minimally. Things like character sketches, a basic idea of subject, and some ideas about where I want it all to go with enough cool details to pique my interest.

9. I have recently discovered that brainstorming with other writers is an awesome way to get motivated. The ideas I get are surprising, fun, and very helpful. Very good to get the creative juices flowing, and probably to get over a stall too. It’s amazing how a simple idea can become complex and striking with enough with the right amount of creativity and angles to see it.

10. I try not to say too much about the work in progress as I go, unless it is a scene I have already written. While I don’t do a lot of planning, at some point I get a sharper sense of where things are going, even though I haven’t planned those scenes. Just like outlining, if I try to tell the story in advance, I lose interest in writing it. I enjoy experiencing it for the first time. That’s what keeps me coming to the page.

Well, that’s all I have at the moment. Would love to hear from others about what is helping you write, along with any weird habits that seem to work for you along the way.

Good luck to all of you NaNoWriMo-ers out there! I think it helps to feel part of this greater thing, knowing so many others are going through it with me. Some I know, many I don’t. Think how cool it will be to have a brand new novel written–all before Christmas!! You can do it!

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