Happy Tuesday, writers! Well, non-writers too, of course. I hope you had a relaxing Labor Day with little to no labor.
I know it’s not fall yet in certain parts of the United States, but it’s already here in Minnesota. It’s my favorite season of the year, and no, it’s not for the Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Halloween is approaching, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and Thanksgiving is around the corner, and Christmas finishes out the year.
I watch a few BookTubers and writers, as well as listen to podcasts to get writerly advice and ideas. Last week, Kristen Martin posted a tag about her writing rituals, tagging everyone who watched the video. I highly recommended her channel, and she’s the writer of The Alpha Drive series, as well as the new dark fantasy Shadow Crown coming out this October.
The way and times I write have changed over the past year, but without further ado, here are the questions and answers.
1. When do you write?
I dream about writing in the morning and during lunch, but that never happens. I’m a night owl masquerading as a morning person, and too much of a workaholic.
I usually write from 7 p.m. until bedtime (between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.), and on the weekends. I do more writing and researching on Saturday than any other day. I’ll also write ideas down in my notebooks while I’m on the train commuting to and from work, which adds up to about an hour each day.
2. How do you seclude yourself from the outside world?
Usually with music. My house is pretty busy and until find a way to make an office, the dinner table is my desk where I lay out all my materials. I also leave my phone in my backpack when I get home then check it about every hour in case someone called or messaged. I’ve been able to get more done and relax if I check my phone less.
3. How do you review your writing from the previous day?
Lately I’ve been writing short stories or blog posts, so I don’t have to pick up where I left off. When I work on a longer piece, I pick up from the last scene. I keep the scenes on index cards - brief descriptions - so I go to the next one and move on from there. I’ve only worked on one book so far, but that worked pretty well. We’ll see how much it worked once I start editing and revising it. If I'm writing, and I feel like changing the scene as I go, I'll update the index card.
4. What song is your go-to when you’re feeling uninspired?
These songs are on opposite ends of the spectrum, but depending on the mood, Shoot to Thrill by AC/DC or Hesitate by Stone Sour.
5. What do you always do when you struggle with writer’s block?
Complete a task that requires little thought (showering or trying to sleep), or writing prompts. I felt silly doing prompts for some reason, but I’ve come up with some good ideas for stories so far. I entered the fall short story contest with The Write Practice and Short Break Fiction, which had a fall and love theme. My writing involves love at times, but not your typical romances. Think more murder, less cuddling. I was able to write something I was really proud to share with other people, and did some critiquing and editing.
6. What tools do you use when you’re writing?
Notebooks, favorite pens (blue ink with a wide tip), craft books, my laptop, and USB drive. Right now, I have two journals: one for my NaNo project, and one for my short stories. The latter I use to write down a bunch of smaller ideas. Sometimes I decide to work them into a larger project, or I know I can only get a couple thousand words out of it.
I use Google Docs to write in (I tried you Scrivner) and any “stray” notes or articles I have are arranged in a pocket folder. I know there are programs that arrange articles, etc., but I like to print out certain things and mark them up. Don’t worry, I don’t have mountains of paper over here like an episode of Hoarders, just a few spare things.
7. What is the one thing you cannot live without during a writing session?
8. How do you fuel yourself during a writing session?
Tea, kombucha, and coffee. I should really be drinking more water though.
9. How do you know when you’re done writing?
I tend to stop at the end of a really big scene or the end of a chapter, which sometimes are one in the same. Or when I my eyes start burning, but I don’t like it get to that point. I like writing in sprints and then taking a break a few times an hour. This worked so well during NaNoWriMo last year, and I can't wait to do it again.
What about you, writers? Tell me about your writing rituals in the comments below or at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Nicole C. Thomas
Nicole is a writer working on her first novel Samantha Darkened, created during NaNoWriMo 2016. She writes weekly posts regarding books, writing, and mental illness. She has an interesting sense of humor which includes a love of alliteration and puns.