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WRITING HABITS REVISITED

January 29, 2020

I originally posted this article in February, 2015. Because parts, if not all, have come up lately on several of the forums that I frequent on Facebook, I thought it would be a good time to revisit it with a few updated tweaks.
At our Henderson Writers Group that month, we had a presentation by a guy that talked about writing, and his approach. What I got out of it, more than anything else, was his view on how to write, when and where. Now, five years later, with almost 500 articles on writing, I’ve covered this before, but not quite in this perspective. That inspired this week’s installment of Fred’s Guide To Writing.
FIRST, YOU HAVE TO LOVE IT
Before we go any further, hands down, you have to love to write. There’s also that need, the drive, and deadlines, some that are self-imposed while others may be contractually obligated.
Writing should be a passion, NOT a hobby.
‘Nuff said.
NO TWO PEOPLE ARE THE SAME
This is a big caveat that I don’t think the speaker conveyed enough to the audience. He assumed we should all follow pretty close to his footsteps, or seemed to imply that (okay, he was pressed for time).
If you don’t write every day, you’re never going to get anything accomplished.
What he said was you should write every day. However, he implied that if you didn’t, you’d never accomplish what he did. That was my interpretation.
Was he wrong?
No two people are the same.
ENVIRONMENT
The speaker told us he had to write in complete silence, locked away with no internet (or to that effect) or any other distractions, or he’d never get anything done.
That would probably be the case for a lot of you.
This is a subject that comes up a lot on the forums. Answers vary quite a bit.
I’m not a monk. I can’t isolate myself in a cave and expect my Polka-dot Sewer (inspiration) to jump out at me. My ideas crawl out of the woodwork (don’t give me no crap about clichés, either). I can be driving, cutting wood in my garage, half dreaming in bed, be busy at my job at work, eating dinner, watching TV, you name it.
When I work, a nuclear bomb could be going off. Total chaos can be going on around me and it doesn’t matter. When the muse strikes, I write. Period. The only thing that distracts me is when the wife calls. Then all bets are off!
I like loud music, very loud, from psychedelic to death metal. To have that blaring in the background would be nice, but I can’t do that because the rest of the family is usually around. The other thing is that I cannot stand headphones. After two decades in the Air Force and wearing hearing protection, I’m a little jaded to headsets. So, I have to be content to write with background noises like the TV, the toilet flushing, shower running, dawgs barking or roughhousing, slamming doors, traffic outside, the usual. All are comforting, normal sounds. That’s my music.
Or, I may write, like I am right now, when everyone else is asleep, early in the morning.
I certainly can’t tell anyone else to try and write that way, and you shouldn’t either, if it doesn’t suit you. You have to find what works. If dead silence, white noise headphones, Kenny G, or Cannibal Corpse is the key, do that!
Some people are fine going to the local coffee shop or library with a laptop and headphones. That’s a double whammy for me. Besides an aversion to headphones, I cannot stand working with a laptop!
You have to do what works for you. Experiment around a bit, see what gets you the best productivity and work for that method.
HOW MUCH OUTPUT?
Quite a few of us write every day. We may not write a lot, but something to keep the muse going, if not in an effort to meet some deadline.
I personally see no use in self-imposed deadlines. I find them counterproductive to my creativity. I have no need for them. While I’m still bursting with stories, even after twenty-five years at this passion, I’ve learned to pace myself and with patience, I stick to one thing at a time. The only exception is if I divert for the occasional short story. In fact, right now, one’s brewing in my subconscious. One day, I’m going to put the brakes on everything else and go for it.
I write every day I’m home except Monday nights because I’m at the writers group meeting, or the odd night I have an appointment or an astronomy club meeting. I’ve mentioned many times what I write. The fact is, I just write. My muse is almost always active, and I can’t help but take advantage of it.
I must make it clear that I don’t always work on my current MS. I have plenty of other things to write, like these articles, plus marketing for the novels I already have published.
What should you do?
My only suggestion is that if writing is a real passion to you, you should be looking forward to this, not dreading it. That means, you should be writing not only when you feel the muse, but when you want to. However, there’s such a thing as procrastination. It’s a million dollar word, but the meaning isn’t too expensive.
You can have all the inspiration in the world, but if you never sit down and put it into practice, you’ll be left with nothing but blank pages. In that way, I agree with that speaker. You may not have to force yourself to write every day (see, I hate that word force), but you also need to accomplish something, or you’ll never get anywhere.
RESULTS
The bottom line is that you need to develop a habit, a consistent approach that fits not only your passion, but follows your muse. It’s a habit that also accomplishes something, or there’s no point. Whether it be daily, every couple of days, or weekly, you need to make it a habit and stick with it and your muse will get exercised sufficiently, if you have a muse at all.
If you reach an occasional dry spell with your major project, use that established writing frequency habit to exercise those writer’s tools. Keep writing something, then go back to your project when the muse hits again. Either way, follow your passion you should be just fine.
Happy writing!

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