What Makes You Tick?


I believe that everyone has some sort of tick–or habit–they perform when they are writing. Whether you realize it or not, good or bad, I’m sure it’s there.

For me, I have a terrible habit of finishing a sentence of my WIP, going to Facebook or Twitter for two to three minutes, and then back to my WIP to write a few more sentences. I’m not sure why I do it. I think it may be because I don’t plan out my stories so I need those little breaks to figure out where that particular part of the story is going. Why I look at Facebook and Twitter, I don’t really know. I try not to veer away from my WIP as often as I can, and sometimes I’m able to catch myself before I Alt+Tab to my web browser.

I’d like to develop a more positive habit, if possible. I’m not entirely sure what a good writing habit is. Maybe going back and re-reading a chapter as soon as I finish writing it before moving on to the next. But, that may just be good practice rather than a good habit. Plus, Sometimes I’m on a roll and I have to dive right into the next chapter.

So, I’m curious as to what your habits are? Do you always smoke when you write? Do you have to have a certain drink? Can you only write at a certain time or place? Do you have any habits that you think are especially good or bad?

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20 thoughts on “What Makes You Tick?

  1. As far as time goes, I’m only restricted by who’s around to distract me. Once I get a moment alone I can, and do, turn to my writing. As far as habits go … these days, I have been turning to caffeiene in one form or another. Perhaps if I didn’t wake once or twice in the night I might not need it, but you’ll have to talk to my son about that.
    Special place? Not really, as long as it’s comfy-ish. But, yes, I do check my FB now and then during my writing time, and I do read my little Twitter alerts that pop-up in the bottom right of my screen … and click on the ones that grab my interest (hence, here I am!). The only way to defeat that is to go away from the computer (yes, I could switch things off and use discipline, but where is the fun in that?) with pen and paper and do it the old fashioned way. That can work, but it is slower than typing … but, then, I’m more focused, so it’s swings and roundabouts, really … swings and roundabouts … like a playground? What does that saying have to do with anything? Anyway, this comment is turning into one of my rambles … oops.
    Time and place … when my son sleeps in the afternoons – that is my only guaranteed time. The rest is bonus. Place? At the moment I’m set up at the kitchen table. A desk is fine. The lounge floor is fine (best if handwriting, but I can do that on my touchscreen, too), lying on my bed (especially when the sun is streaming through the window, outside in the sun … I like all sorts of places. In fact, I’d like to do more writing out and about. That would be fun. But, finding the chance to head out and about without someone else to mind is the kicker.

    • I too would like to do more writing out. A new coffee shop opened up in my town and it looks like the perfect place to get some writing done. It’s got couches and everything. Also, they have this awesome thing where if you want to take one of the books from their bookshelf, all you have to do is leave another book in its place. It’s such a great idea! I’m going to leave a few copies there of my next book when it’s out.

  2. When I was a smoker, it was my packet of cigarettes and a bottomless jug of coffee. Now, it’s the bottomless jug of coffee. I don’t know why but having a coffee next to me puts me in ‘work’ mode. I can’t get the creative juices flowing without my cup of joe.

  3. When I’m working out a rough draft, something I know I’m going to edit anyway, I have a variety of tricks that I use to time myself. “Write or Die” is a fun program to keep you writing. Also things like burning candles or incense that you want to write before they burn out, or playing a piece of music you want to write during, help me resist the temptation to stop writing.

    • I’ve recently found that I enjoy writing to classical music. I’m not sure why, but it just seems to motivate me and helps me delve into the creative part of my mind.

      • I have the same thing, and for writing I find Mozart works best for me. I don’t know why. Perhaps choosing a piece you really like and setting a reasonable writing goal for that amount of time might be a fun way to keep yourself motivated. 🙂

  4. I need to be alone.. I can’t have my boyfreind in the room, I don’t want him peaking over my shoulder as I write…
    I stop by face book and my blog all the time, when I write as well, so much that it is annoying me, and sometimes I don’t get to write as much as I wanted, because of it… I don’t know why I do it… but maybe you’re right, it is because i need a break to figure out where the story is going.. but sometimes I just go off line, and make sure to stay on my story, and that is not a problem, so I don’t know 😉

    • I posted a while back about how I don’t like people looking over my shoulder as I write. I’d rather not have someone see my “raw” work before it’s polished up to some degree at least.

  5. I do the take a small break between sentence or paragraphs, because I need that moment like you to gather my thoughts on the next one. I like having a drink handy, and the internet too for research purposes. Saving, yeah saving. I do that ever couple of paragraphs. It is a nervous habit that has sprung from late night CRPG games and flaky power supplies. It crushes me if the computer locks up or loses power in the middle of what I am sure is pulitzer prize winning prose.

    • I generally save whenever I finish a paragraph or two, unless the flow is going really well and I don’t dare stop. But I too certainly would be crushed if I lost any chunk of my story, haha.

  6. For me I HAVE to have my coffee in this particular thermos I got from working at a bank a few years back. It also has to be really early in the morning (six ish). I don’t know why. Also, I don’t go back and re-read. That’s a big no-no for me.

      • I’ll never leave the chapter. I’ll just keep revising and revising and will never get anywhere. When it’s a rough draft, I have to just keep going. If I quit for the night and go back then I might just re-read the last paragraph of what I’d written the night before when I resume.

  7. I used to write without planning, and it took 100,000 + words written in various forms (story starts, disjointed character profiles, lists of plot ideas, etc) to shut up the internal voice that planning was somehow the Devil. Now I stopped pantsing it. I plan my writing, a new habit.

  8. Cigarettes and cappuccino! Lol

    If I’m writing by hand, a selection of pens in different colours (I’m not too sure why, but I can’t stand flicking through my notebook and all the writings the same colour lol).

    Xx

      • Hmmmm, I guess subconsciously I choose a colour to suit my mood, and yes, that then probably dictates the tone of the piece I’m writing. If I write with a plain blue biro I tend to find the piece I’ve written boring lol. My favourite colours to write with are purple and red 😉

        Xx

  9. I am definitely an alt+tab-er, though I tend to check my e-mail more than anything. I also prefer to write at night, which isn’t so much a habit as just a strange preference. Things are quieter and more mysterious then. It definitely gets the creative juices going. This also goes for rainy weather.

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