Thursday, March 8, 2012

My (Bad) Habits

Since I am in the midst of my Independent Study in which I am writing a mystery novel, I thought I do a little post about my habits and quirks. All writers have them. You might not notice them, but trust me, your friends and family do. In a way, my project is a bit like NaNoWriMo, except it's spread over a whole semester and I have to document my steps along the way and let someone read it at the end. This, I built into the project to help me overcome one of my quirks: my reticence to share my work.
I may make vague and cryptic references to it, I may even ask people random questions like, "Where would you hide a body?," "What's a good name for a coroner?," "How easy is it to make GHB?," etc. Still, I rarely will hand over a piece of work (other than a school essay)for another human's perusal. Especially if it hasn't been meticulously edited by me about three times.
Music is also really important to my writing. When I'm writing at home, usually sitting at the end of my bed or on the couch, I like to have music playing. I also find it very useful to create specific playlists for individual stories, scenes, or characters. I think this helps put me in the right mental attitude so I can create an atmosphere. My favorite public place to write is a nearby coffee shop (see my ecstasies about that below). One of the best parts about that place is that it's fairly quiet, but that they always have music in the background. None of the patrons are especially noisy either, so it forms the perfect soft sound bubble. If it's too quiet my mind starts to wander.
I can never write first thing in the morning, unless it's about a particularly interesting dream I just awoke from. If I'm going out to write, the mid-afternoon is best. I always have a notebook of some form or other with me to scribble thoughts and outlines whenever the mood takes me, but when I sit down to type things up or machete my way through a particularly difficult passage, it's always at night. Often I'll be writing in bed until around one am.
For most writers, I believe some stories come more easily than others. With any story, there's always going to be moments that are hard to get through, holes you realize in your plot outline, characters you aren't so sure about. But some stories incubate in your mind and come out of you almost whole- editing is always necessary, most of us are not Mozart with a perfect first draft of our composition. Other stories can take years to become fertile. I've been tossing around one particular idea for about three years. I'll make notes occasionally, do research, but ultimately it's not ready for the page yet. I haven't found the right way into it yet. Maybe I never will, but I'd like to think that when I'm more experienced with the novel form it will be ready.
I think the most important thing is to keep writing, every day if you can. Even if it's a poem, a journal entry, or a character profile for another story I write something every day. Of course, I might just be compulsive. Maybe I'll be prolific by sheer necessity. I'm just a baby in the scheme of things, still in my writing apprenticeship, but I think I'm quickly maturing. I'm becoming more disciplined and improving my ability to focus and edit. Maybe in a year or two I'll be something more: a published novelist.
Now, if it's not too windy, I'm going to spend a little quality time with my bow on the archery range.

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