Saturday, October 13, 2007

How and when do you write?

As I'm still getting over my dastardly illness (the details which you don't need to really know about, except to say that the root cause turned out to not be GI related at all), which necessitates catching up on work e-mail rather than blogging my butt off...

I've decided that I want to ask you LIT SOUP readers a question. I'm actually quite curious about the answer to this, so please feel free to comment in as much detail as possible. =)

So here it is, in its most basic form: How and when do you write?

Do you steal time around the other things in life that demand priority, such as work, kids, etc?

Do you sit at home and write as your primary job?

Do you write on the bus/train/form of commute to job?

Tell me how you get those words onto paper, whether it's physical or virtual in medium.

I'm also curious about the actual method of writing you use. Do you outline, do you just let it tumble out of your head, do you spend lots of time analyzing every sentence? And how does your particular set of writing circumstances (see above questions) affect the writing method that you use?

Answer away, folks!


Arjay said...

I'm most productive in the morning sitting at my computer with a cup of coffee. I usually work for 1 or 2 hours if words flow smoothly. It's not unusual for me to take a day or 2 off. My mind seems to regenerate with new scenes and ideas.

I never write an outline. The story is in my head, only the details need to be fleshed out.

Chris M said...

The first book I wrote was just a test to see if I could do it and I just wrote it, but it took me five years. So, with book #2, I did a lot of research and I outlined for three months before getting started. I was worried that outlining would squelch the creative flow, but it didn't, it was actually invigorating. I wanted to see if I could write the bulk of the book in six weeks (with the outline) and I did. Of course I've revised it considerably since then.

I stay home with my 2 1/2 year old now and it was a real struggle to find time to write, at first. I have to say that I learned to write in smaller amounts of time and at odd hours. Finding time is a challenge, but it's like an itch I can't ignore. Before, I would write for an entire day. Now, each hour alone is so valuable I have to make the best use of my time. If necessary, I check into a hotel for a weekend, but that's a rare luxury.

I will definitely outline the next book because I found it so helpful. I use a laptop and revise as much as possible on it, but I have to do my final revisions on paper. It's an obsessive process and the learning never seems to stop, but I enjoy the challenge.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I write whenever I can. Playdates for #2 are a good thing, even when friends are over. That means, of course, that I ignore the pots and sundry cooking items overflowing the sink and don't do much more with the laundry than fill and start the dryer.

As for method, I'm a pantser. I let the story evolve; that's what the first draft is for. Editing is when you realize how much of a craft writing is.

MaryF said...

I wake up and write before work on the computer, but in the evenings I sit with a pad and a gel pen and write on the couch.

Some stories I plan out more than others. Usually I write a few chapters, get to know my characters, then plot out what's next. On my WIP I actually made a chart with the characters and their connections.

Nancy Fulda said...

I write in little snippets of time between my children's schedules.

As they've gotten older the chunks of time have become both longer and more frequent, but the principle is still the same: I spot a quiet moment and I run write. There is no such thing as "working when I feel like it". It is all about "working when I have the opportunity".

As far as method goes, I'm fairly flexible. Sometimes I outline, sometimes I write a whirlwind first draft, and most of the time, the story grinds its way out at a tortoise-like pace and is revised as I go.

Mary Robinette Kowal said...

At the moment, I'm writing almost exclusively on the subway. It's the only unstructured time that I have these days.

I usually have at least a short paragraph story synopsis before I start so that I know what end I'm driving toward. I might revise it as I go, but I like knowing what the end will be.

Betsy said...

I work part-time so, in theory, a significant portion of the days spent out of the office are spent writing. In practice, I grab writing time when I can, which sometimes is more on days that I don't go into the office, sometimes not.

In terms of my method when sitting down to write, I find that I need to time both my writing time and my break times, because otherwise I'll wander off during a break and forget that I'm supposed to go back to writing. This also gives me a way to coax myself into sitting down - "only 45 minutes of writing, I can do that, and if at the end of it I've only written drivel, I can go on to other things." But by the end of 45 minutes of concentration, I'm generally on a roll. A 15 minute timed break gives me enough time to get things done around the house - wash some dishes, switch loads of laundry around, clean up in general, pour a fresh cup of tea - and also gives me some time to brew up the next part of the scene for when I sit down again. It's long enough to feel luxurious (I might even get a few minutes to sit and do nothing on the couch before I go back to work) but short enough that I don't lose my focus on the writing. Sometimes I only have time or inspiration for an hour or two; other days I write and take breaks for 8 hours straight. I've trained my husband to wait to ask anything more complex than a "yes" or "no" question until I'm on break, unless there's blood - and sometimes he'll even make lunch and time it to be ready when my break time comes.

I find that a general outline is very helpful - I start with 8-12 main points I know I want to hit, then as I come to each point I mentally sketch the path to the next point, then sit down to write and fill in the details.

Jodi Meadows said...

Hee. Obsessively and compulsively, whenever I have a free moment. (Which is a lot.) And I write whatever falls out of my head and seems to go with the vague "huh! I want to write a book about that!" idea when I first start. Stories don't usually end up where I think they will. :P


Chumplet said...

I'm not an insomniac, but since I was a child it took me a long time to fall asleep. To help me along, I started stories in my head, reworking them night after night until THE END. This continued into my adulthood.

Two years ago, my husband gave me a refurbished laptop and I started typing furiously during the evenings, sometimes late into the night. My stories were already preformed, so after getting the first draft done, all that was needed was some polishing and critiques. Okay, a lot of polishing and critiques.

Boy, did I have a lot to learn. All the usual mistakes were made, but I soon learned from them. I still am.

I'm a 'fly by the seat of my jeans' kind of writer. I don't have a real outline to work with, and the story morphs as I go. Sometimes if there's a twist in the plot I have to go back to the beginning to support the new development.

Laura Kramarsky said...

When: whenever I can. Sometimes, I go days without being able to find time, but mostly I manage some time every day.

I work at home, so I can't write at home. There's too much "stuff" going on in my head when I am there. So I write at Starbucks or Borders or the like.

How I write: With a fountain pen on paper. (That's for fiction. For nonfiction--manuals, instructions, academic writing, etc, I can write just fine sitting at my computer.) I also cannot write fiction unless I print out what I wrote the day before and read it, then continue from there.

I suppose it might be different if I could write from an outline, but I can't. I heard someone say at the Edgars last year (Harlan Coben, maybe?) that he tried to write from an outline once and when the outline was done he had no desire to write the book. That's how I feel. The story takes shape as I write...sometimes I don't even know "whodunit" until I am 2/3 way through the book.

Angela said...

Hiya, delurking to answer this one. :)

I do have a full time day job, so I have to write in the evenings and on the weekends. I'll aim for 500 words a day, and assuming nothing hugely stressful is going on in my life, I generally make that.

I do outline, though that turns out to be more of a "big picture" idea of where I'm going with the story. The actual details often change from what I have in mind, once I write out what's going on.

Sometimes though I will write when I'm out and about, which is why I carry a small handheld computer with me. If I do any new words or editing of old words on that, I'll take that home and sync it up with my main computer, my laptop.

debi in holland said...

I'm definitely an outliner. Outlining frees me when I'm writing to work on the flow of the scene, the words, the character, because I know where the story itself is going. Of course, the outline is not written in stone, so if something changes, that's good, too.

As for finding time to write . . . that's the tricky part. As a "stay-at-home mom," I am constantly dropping off, picking up, cooking (those silly little people expect to be fed every day!), etc., that I find myself writing a bit here and a bit there.

I have 5 hours a week of pure bliss when both little ones are in school. I write like my life depends on it during those hours.

Jason R. Clark said...

I end up writing a couple different major times--lunch-times at work, weekend mornings, and occasionally in the evening. Even without children, I'd echo Chris M about learning to write in smaller chunks of time. The long multi-hour stretches I had in college don't happen often anymore. If I'm going to write, I have to grab the chances that present themselves.

I've never outlined much, but I'm planning to with the next book. I ended up dropping a ton of my original draft on my last book because I'd expected the story to guide itself. In actuality, it wallowed in a lot of unnecessary detail which I could have avoided if I'd thought ahead just a bit further.

All my writing happens in hard-copy. First drafts are handwritten in sketchbooks or notebooks. Editing is always on print-outs (thank goodness for relatively affordable duplexing printers!) I program computers for my day job, so the last thing I need is more hours in front of a computer. Besides which, I find that the slower pace of working with pen and paper forces me to think through what I'm doing more, to be more deliberate in the choices I make. I type fast enough that it's easy to ramble without even realizing it.

Michelle said...

I write whenever I can get an hour block of time. I actually set myself an egg timer (on the computer, not the annoying ticking kind) and force myself to write for 45 minutes without checking page count, email, the news, if my plants need water, if the kitchen needs cleaning, etc. I also don't allow myself any editing or self-criticism during that time - just forward writing. I'll get about 1200 words done in 45 min with that method.

As for plotting, I try to have as many notes on possible scenes as I can before I start to write. I organized them in the 6-stages structure laid out by Michael Hague this time and that helped, though I used up most of my planned plot points long before I'd anticipated and had to add more in. It certainly helps me to have a clue where I'm going but I like to leave things fairly open if my typing takes me on a tangent that seems promising.

Kelly Swails said...

I try to write for an hour or two each evening; sometimes more, sometimes less. It's not unusual for me to take a day or three off; sometimes my scenes have to percolate in my head a bit so they can gel. Having a deadline helps, even if said deadline is completely arbitrary.

Outlining is big for me. The last book I finished was a "I'll just write and see what happens" kind of deal, but it took a lot longer and I had to revise much more. I'll definitely outline the next few novels I have in my head. As for short stories, I'll usually type out a paragraph-long synopsis and go from that. In either case, I try not to be married to my outline. If in the course of writing something cool happens, I'm happy to explore it.

Lee Ann Ward said...

I am a full-time writer, so I write everyday. It is my job, so I work it that way. Production is a priority. I come up with a book idea, flesh it out, write it, edit it like crazy, then move on to the next book.

As far as technique, I do story board extensively. It is a necessity for me. There have been a couple of books I didn't story board, but that was when I was new. I've learned that a story board allows me to see each chapter before it's written. That gives me the opportunity to foreshadow and add those little phrases and "hooks" that are necessary to keep the reader engaged. I also keep a "phrase notebook". Anytime I hear a phrase or think of something clever, I write it in that notebook. I recommend it for all writers. It's really nice to have your own reference book of phrases to skim through. I do the same with characters. You get the idea. :)

Jaime said...

I read your LJ feed everyday, but I've never commented here before.

I do most of my writing in late afternoons and evenings after work. Maybe I should say that's what I do on the days that my job doesn't suck out every brain cell and leave me too numb to write.

On my days off I've been known to sit down at the computer at noon or a little after and not get up again until bedtime. I'm as obsessive as Jodi, just not as fast. *g* Writing is the priority in my life, other than keeping a roof over my head and my cats fed.

The first draft of the first novel I wrote was done in a total winging it way. I'd abandoned two novel attempts before that because I'd listened to people who told me I _had_ to outline. Killed both books dead.

I knew who the characters were, I had a vague idea of the end, but the middle was a total adventure. Characters who turned out to be key to the plot and story just kind of showed up. Took me 8 months to write the first 30k and 6 weeks to write the last 65k.

That book taught me a lot about writing novels. I can't do strict outlines without killing the story and winging it without any plan at all is not a good idea.

I discovered a method that works for me that is kind of half way between the two and the next novel took me 6 months to finish a first draft. Instead of an "outline" I free write plot and character notes, which are essentially everything I know about the world and the characters, the relationships between all of the characters, why they are doing what they are doing and what the conflict is.

It's like making a map for where I want to go and lets me see the end. It sets the characters and the story in my head, which makes it much easier to write.

So far it seems to work.

Eliza said...

If I'm "in the zone", I can get up at 5:30 and sneak in a few hours of writing time before the family gets up. My husband is really supportive of my writing and he lets me get out of the house a few evenings a week, too, and spends some time with our 2-year-old daughter. (I totally relate to Chris M, btw).

I'm a freelance writer (get paid for that gig), so yes, I do sit at home (or sit in cafe) and write or research, when I'm not mommying or housekeeping.

In the earliest stages, I outline. Just to get the basic characters, plot, and subplots in, and to be able to figure out the theme. I make sure not to spend more than a few hours on the outline -- so much of the story comes together during the first draft.

There are a couple of different kinds of writers' blocks - if I hit a wall and I don't know what happens next, I handwrite some basic Q&As to suss out when, where, who, how, and what the problem scene needs to lead to. If I have the scene in mind but I'm just not into it, I make a placeholder and jump to the next thing that interests me. And if nothing interests me, and I can't get into any scene, I just go and live life for a while -- read, watch TV, hang out with friends, something like that. I suppose the creative well needs refilling by then.

When I'm writing the first draft, I let it tumble, turn off spell check, etc. I'm facing a major revision for an editor right now, so I have to discipline myself better this time around.

Analyzing comes during the editing process. I usually cut 2-5k words per manuscript, because I have no idea what I was saying in the middle of the scene. When I'm editing, sometimes I'll say out loud, middle of the library or cafe, "WTF? What was I thinking? What the heck did that mean?"

I pretty much write the same way wherever I am. I've got a great office in our attic, but it's hard to keep the climate controlled in it. When I'm on deadline and freaking out, though, I HAVE to leave the house just so I can concentrate and not worry about laundry, dishes, floors...

Well, I've successfully put off thinking about my revision for another day! Thanks, Jenny!

spyscribbler said...

I go to Borders and write (and sometimes wander) for 3 or 4 hours, Monday - Thursday. On Friday, I typically spend about 8 or 10 hours writing, and on Saturdays it's usually 3 - 10, depending on what needs done and what else is planned.

As far as how, I don't write outlines, but I do write the names of all my characters down. I generally imagine a book ahead of where I am, so as I'm writing one, I'll live a bit in the next book.

Day to day, I take long showers and imagine the scenes I'm going to write that day, so I can just sit down and write it. (Ideally.)

That's pretty much it, nothing interesting. I just write, LOL.

Becca said...

With four children under 7 years old and a physical condition that makes it impossible for me to sit at a desk, I've had to be creative with getting to writing. I finally set my desktop on the side of the desk and my soft rocking chair beside it. When I'm holding one of my children (most of the day), I put the keyboard on my knees (or even across the kid's lap!) and write while I'm nursing or rocking someone. I've learned to type with one hand! I end up feeling guilty because all I did was write all day--until I realize that it was because I was rocking children all day. I do neglect the house to write, but I neglected the house before; now I'm actually producing something worthwhile in the meantime.

I outline, but then I write whole scenes without the outline. My outlines are really a synopsis, not a list of events, with snippets of description and dialogue thrown in. Outline--write--revise (repeatedly)--get feedback from beta readers--revise more. When I think it's done, I read my book out loud to my children. L'Engle suggested you read your work aloud to someone, and it really helps. Then I can hear where the prose doesn't work, and see where the flow is wrong. Plus, my kids' questions help me be sure the story and characters work (I write YA, and they're bright kids, so this works).

Zany Mom said...

Steal time, but usually in the evenings when the kids are otherwise occupied. I type on my laptop with dogs at my feet. I'm usually a free-flow writer (my characters surprise me!) but I'm going to try outlining my next novel (complicated plot).

Karen Duvall said...

I work at home as a graphic designer so I can make my own hours, which is nice. But finding writing time can still be a challenge. I used to think I could only write in the morning, but I experimented with writing at other times of the day and soon found that worked, too. I just have more trouble staying focused late in the day.

I write a one page synopsis before I start a book, but the plot evolves and deepens as the story progresses. I keep a lot of mental lists that I can pull up like a file whenever I need to read through them. Weird, I know, but it works for me. I work from a list of scene complications that I can pull from as the story moves forward. I usually spend an hour or so writing in my head the moment I wake up in the morning, which I then transcribe on my laptop. I aim for 750 to 1000 words a day, but not all in one sitting.

Ben S. D. said...

God speaks to me through my on the keyboard.

Okay, maybe He doesn't exactly factor in, but I wanted it to sound more romantic than the truth. Fact is, I sit down and write whenever I need to (for work), and as for optional projects...well, I write when I feel the need to, which is often. Sometimes I just close my eyes and type for a while, and then re-read what popped up on the screen. I can write entire pages in minutes that way. Other times, I spend 15 minutes on one sentence.

Hardly what one would call disciplined or unique, but that's the way it is.

Anonymous said...

The only way I can get writing done is to set a daily goal: How many hours am I going to work today? Until I started that, I was inconsistent. Now I put in between 20 and 40 hours a week.

Most of my writing gets done in the mornings while my kids play, then again when they nap, and in the evenings after they go to bed. My "desk" is set up so I can see the kids' play area in the living room.

But my best times to write are when I get to leave the house. There are so many distractions at home: singing, screaming, dancing kids by day, husband's blaring TV shows by night. About once every week or two, I go to McDonald's and work. (Ah, wish I could be there tonight!)

As for how I work, it varies so, so much from story to story. I did a complex outline for my last novel; this time, I wrote my first draft as fast as I could, and now I'm researching and writing in tandem, so I actually can't outline--not really, anway--until my research is done. I've got a good idea of how the plot will run, but specifics are still sketchy.

Short stories I never outline. I make a few notes sometimes, but I don't think they qualify as an outline.

And I'm one of those people who obssesses about each word. Not on the first draft, usually not on the second, but after that, I get particular. It sometimes takes an hour to work out three paragraphs so the rhythm of the words is just right.

Also, I have to write everything longhand. I've tried, but the only things I can do on the computer are minor edits and revisions. All my drafts are written on paper, and then I type them out and work out kinks once I finish that scene.

Kim said...

I'm a nightowl by nature, so I mostly write after the kids go to bed. I get a lot more done in the summer, when my daughter's not in school, since I don't have to get up as early (which is tough no matter what time of year it is!)

I write historicals, so once I've decided what time period I'm using, I do enough research to give me a feel for it. Then I write the story. As I revise, I do more in-depth research to fill in gaps. My first drafts are more red ink than printer toner when I'm finished with them! =)

I've tried outlining. I soooo wish I could do it, but I'm definitely a pantser. Where I want the story to go is almost never where it ends up anyway, so I guess it's for the best. But, I try with each book - some day it just might work.

I'm fortunate in that my husband is very, very, VERY supportive and doesn't get resentful when I disappear into my office. He's also good about keeping the kids occupied if I'm working during daylight hours.

Anonymous said...

These days, mostly very early in the morning, before I go to bed. I've found it easiest to tack some hours on the end of the day, because any hours spare during the day will be consumed by other people (because writing isn't something that needs to be done *now*). The priority thing is a little bit flexible, because I'm more inclined to treat having writing time as necessary (and to just get on and take a little time if I'm on a roll). And almost everything gets typed straight into the computer, unless it doesn't. Some scenes get jotted down on paper, and there are still some times when I pick up a pencil and paper because I need to think with my hands (and I know that makes no sense but... it feels as if I communicate with my brain just a little differently at those points).

I pretty much build a story up in my head. Generally for every scrap of writing that's 'remembering' something for me there's this gigantic iceberg of story-ness maturing quietly. Very often what I end up writing is the same story I started out to write... it just looks like a completely different one :D (Or sometimes it looks like the same story but's changed meaning entirely). When I write... mostly I know a bunch of where the story is going, and where it goes to get there, but at the same time there are lots of spaces that get filled in while I write, and it's not just little details or unimportant things... often when the spaces get filled in my entire perception of the scenes I know changes.

For actual process. Sometimes words tumble out and sometimes they don't. Often there are sentences that I *have* to get right before I can move on, and other times I'll just keep tweaking them when I read over. The same as detail research - I might have to stop and spend an hour looking up how to pick a lock just so I can feel comfortable writing a single sentence that alludes to doing so... or my brain will let me plug in a XXX and maybe a word on what I need to replace the X's with and let me go straight on.

Moving into writing time that doesn't get disturbed and where I can be online without guilt means fewer lost sentences/ideas (where someone walks in and starts talking and I spend the half hour after being disturbed trying to remember words that only seem more perfect the less chance I have of remembering them). The downside to that is when my time does get disrupted (health related snags etc), I've been finding it very hard to write at odd moments, where once I'd at least have snatched a few words here and there.

Kathryn Allen

Shesawriter said...

Much like actors and directors do before filming a particular scene, I "block" my scenes with notepad and pen. It's a basic info dump and strategy session where I outline key details. This includes plot, emotion, dialogue, props, red herrings ... etc. Then I go back and add in stuff I missed the first go-round. By the time I'm done, I have about ten to fifteen hand written pages filled with notes. After that, I write, using this rough outline as a guide.

cathellisen said...

I'm a stay-at-home mom with a two wee sprogs. I write when they sleep. This means my house looks like a bomb hit it.
Naturally, I'd rather write than clean, even though I write better when the house is clean.

I've managed to write the first drafts of about five books in the last two years, so it's not all bad.

kathie said...

Well, I sure am glad to see I have many sisters in crime--women who let housekeeping go to write. It's funny it's mostly women who make that comment...any men out there letting the house to go pot while writing? Anyway, I'm a pantster for sure. I even frustrate myself with how circular my writing is due to the fact I have no set outline. But if I sat down to write an outline, I'd never actually write the book.
I have great support people who are willing to walk with me through my plots and then back again when something changes, but I can't imagine knowing my story, completely before I start.
I wish I was inclined to outline, to know exactly what's happening, but that's a creativity blocker for me.

I write nearly every day for two hours each day. While I'm not absolute about where my novels are going, I am concrete about my writing time. The only thing that interferes with it is my children and the times when a break is necessary for rejuvination...great prompt, Jenny.

SJB said...

When do I write?

Well, I work afternoons, so if I am lucky an hour or two in the mornings and as much of the weekend as I can. If, that is, I have a project I am working on.

I haven't at the moment. My latest project has been edited to within an inch of its life and is ready to join its older siblings in the agent hunt.

So most of my writing time is now taken up with gleaning a list of agents, writing out query letters/emails, and of course the dreaded synopsis of various lengths.

As to the process of writing. I don't try to think on the nuts and bolts of the process. I did try once to explain on a writing forum how I worked and, decided I didn't want to explain it. I felt that in someway it would ruin the magic, and sense of wonder I feel when I am creating a story

Jill said...

I generally write on weekends and after work if I have any scrap of energy left.

I'm only on my second novel, but so far what has become my usual is to keep a notebook and write down my characters, descriptions, describe places, keep lists of addresses, streets, things I might forget. I basically write and hope for the best. I edit glaring mistakes as I go since I reread what I wrote the previous time before I start writing to keep me in the mood, since it may have been a few days. If I have a plan for the next part of the book, I jot it down in my notebook for that chapter.

Anonymous said...

You know, it is just so interesting to read through all these comments and see how other people work. I'm finding some people I can relate to a lot, but the most amazing thing is that nobody does it exactly the same.

Robbie H said...

The formula for my first novel (now deep in the submission process) was plan, outline, research & write (primarily on the weekends). My second one is planned, outlined & researched but writing anything lately has been a challenge. Though I'm a few chapters into it, I suspect I can't completely submerge myself until I get "agent closure" with the first.

Michele Lee said...

If it's a short I try to finish the first draft in a day or two, no matter how long it is. When I'm working on a longer project my goal is 1k a day or better however I can get it. If it's in 5 minute snatches, fine, or in a hour wait at the doctor's office, whatever it takes. As for outlines, the first draft I outline about 3-4 chapters at a time so I know where I'm headed. On a second draft I outline by the chapter what changes I plan to make for the whole book before I start writing. I typically do three drafts before I'll let anyone see it.

Sometimes I write on the computer (I write faster with less interruptions that way) and sometimes I write by hand (notebooks are easier to take to other places and that gives me a chance to edit while typing it onto the computer).

Elaine said...

I write when I can and where I can. I am a full time mom, full time graduate student and full time wife. ;) When I am at home I write on my laptop. I keep a small notebook and many pens in my purse, so when I am not at home, I can write if I have any spare time or I'm waiting for this or that appointment or in some line somewhere. Then I come home and transcribe my handwritten work onto the computer (which I back-up on a daily basis).

I do not outline my work before I write, but I do spend a lot of time thinking about what I am going to write before I write it. Even with that, it inevitably changes even as my fingers hit the keys. If I get stuck at a particular point, I collaborate with my husband (who is my co-writer) and that almost always helps break through the block.

Before we started writing our book, my husband and I (well mostly my husband, who is an engineer) outlined what we thought was going to be book one of three. As it turned out, that outline will eventually be covered in three books, so now our three book series is up to five books. :O

With all that said, I can tell you that, when I find I can't make time to write even a little, I definitely feel the loss. For me writing a pleasure and something I do because I love doing it.

Anne Glamore said...

I totally infringe on family time and burned so many dinners that I've taken to wearing a kitchen timer I bought at Target clipped to my waist as I type to prevent more kitchen disasters.

I really need to wake up earlier than the boys to write, but somehow I'm most creative between 2:30 and 7, when carpool and soccer and guitar are in full swing.

As they sing in Avenue Q: It sucks to be me!!
(but ONLY for that reason)

Antony said...

I write in the morning before work if my brain is up to it. If it isn't, I'll make edits based on yesterday's notes.

At least three nights a week I make sure my schedule is free and I write from the second I get home until midnight. At the beginning of a novel, this won't produce much. By the end of a novel, I'll be producing up to 15,000 words a week.

I don't outline. I start with a character and a scene and make notes as I go. Most of the time I just find out what each character's plan is and make sure they conflict with each other.

Essentially I wind up the characters and let them go until I reach the 90,000 word mark.

Some days, some weeks even, I don't make any progress. I stare and try to work out what those damn people on the page are up to. Currently my old and disillusioned conman is meeting up with the young thug and I have no idea what he wants to tell him. Perhaps tomorrow I will.

Jess said...

I work as a receptionist/office assistant, so I do much of my writing at my day job between projects! I'm still figuring out the method that works best, but I need some roadmap, a tiny outline of key scenes and character backgrounds, and I try to have a goal, like 1k a day while writing. Online challenges like 70 Days of Sweat and Nano are helpful motivators.

Anonymous said...

I write mostly late at night. This works because I don't have time to willy-wally about this sentence or character: I just have to do it! and I can't outline before I write. Strange, but I outline best as or just after I write. It makes sense that way.

Josephine Damian said...

For me, nothing gets done till after I've eaten lunch and had my cuppa tea, so I only write in the afteroon into the evening which is when I'm most alert.

The goal is get in 4-5 days a week, 4-6 hours a day. I only write on my PC at my desk with scented candles lit - a kind of Pavlovian association between the smell and the activity of writing.

Now, I'm a stone cold psycho plotter (and recovering pantster) with outline, index cards, the whole works on my desk as I write. I never sit down to write without the entire scene already mapped out in front of me. That way I don't waste time on the computer sitting there wondering what happens next.

A long walk after writing is good for the creative mind as well as the sendetary body. It's during these walks where story problems or improvements become clear, and I'll return home and jot notes on a legal pad for the next day's writing session.

I edit generally as I go: any obvious typos, or poor word choice, but I'm not anal about it because too much detailed edits can slow down the first draft - I wait till I'm done to do the more in-depth edit.

Bethany said...

So I am a litte late on this topic, but I figured I's throw my routine into the mix. For fun. Why not? ;-)

My gut reaction was, can I say all of the above? And I am not kidding.

Generally speaking, since I work full time, have 2 kids (a 4 year old and about a 7 week old baby), and a husband, I literally write in 15 minute chunks. If I am lucky, I might get an hour of uninterrupted time (if I am really, really lucky). So that leads me to use a variety of methods for writing.

Brief outlines that change as I think about the story throughout my day. I write scenes. I use post it notes to write character traits (or plot points). I jot ideas down in journals. And sometimes I just sit down and write to see what comes out of my crazy head.

In the end (and when my husband blesses me with an afternoon to myself... which is what? once a year)--I collect all of that stuff and hash it out, re-arrange, and make it into a book. Sometimes it takes a few of these afternoons or a weekend away from it all to really make it work. And then I am in rewrite mode, which is again done in 15 minute chunks. Over and over and over again until I get it right.

So, yes, I use it all. Generally, I don't outline (ever). But since I can't focus for long periods of time, my brain works away at the plot faster than I can write the scenes. So I end up outlining as I go. Or at least out 5 scenes (sometimes or more) to see where the story is going. So when I DO get 15 minutes to write, I'm not staring at my screen wondering WHAT to write. If that makes sense.

One thing I've learned... you do what works for you. And that changes with each book. ;-)

Karen said...

I write after work and on weekends. I never outline as such; I always start with chapter one and keep going. I do, however, have a system. I make a new folder for each book, and create and maintain supporting files: a "to do" file (things I don't want to stop and fix/add now), a "characters" file (names, relationships, appearance, etc.), a "time line" file (what happens on day 1, day 2, etc.), and a "map" file with a rough representation of where places are in relation to each other. I don't create these ahead of time except maybe for the map. Everything else is updated as I write.

Sten Düring said...

Outline. I want to know how and where I deviate from my original plan, and deviate I do.
Unless the story strays too far off the path set in the outline I don't bother reworking the outline.

If possible, I'll sit at a coffee shop or a pub. It's an old quirk of mine -- I can't concentrate if it's too silent, and besides I refuse to turn my home into my workspace.

At the time being I get to write very little. A 2.5 year old daughter is, somehow, a bit more important than getting words on paper, or in my case, into a laptop.

When she grows older, and affordable laptops come with 10 hour's battery time I'll revel for full days at my local waterholes once again.

Kimber An said...

I have a husband with a crazy work schedule and three children whom I stay home to raise and home educate. This means besides caring for children, I also have to create and impliment a full school schedule for them and make them do their work, take children to and from activities, clean the house, plan and prepare meals, shop, and be prepared to switch that schedule around on a dime based on my husband's work schedule. I have daily and weekly Master Schedules. Each day I have one writing period set aside for the morning, one for the afternoon, and sometimes a third in the evening. Did I mention I also have a time period aside for sewing and crafting? It saves money on buying clothes and furniture. I call this uber-scheduling. Contrary to what some people think, it's not a slave master. Rather, it frees up blocks of time so I can have time for myself. Otherwise, I would have none.