TMM: Writing Habits

Writing is a profound and elemental aspect of life. A form of communication, a method by which man tries to feel less lonely. Even though it may appear to be a simple gesture, deeply rooted in our culture and tradition, writing is sometimes subject to odd habits and superstitions.

Some writers believe that inspiration cannot be forced or summoned at will and this creates a sense of fragility around the process itself. There are others who try to force it, and so they sit at their desk and try to write a certain number of words each day. Much like Graham Green, who supposedly used to write 500 words every day.

I don’ like having a word count — something I can’t really control. Sometimes words come out easily, sometimes it’s a struggle. I can’t control the outcome in terms of quantity, but I can write every day, or at least do a bit of editing.

Back when I was very young, I used to write in the moments of extreme inspiration, when my fingers were fueled by a frantic feeling of freedom and everything I wrote seemed to achieve a sort of elusive grandeur.

A man is a fool not to put everything he has, at any given moment, into what he is creating. You’re there now doing the thing on paper. You’re not killing the goose, you’re just producing an egg. So I don’t worry about inspiration, or anything like that. It’s a matter of just sitting down and working. I have never had the problem of a writing block. I’ve heard about it. I’ve felt reluctant to write on some days, for whole weeks, or sometimes even longer. I’d much rather go fishing, for example, or go sharpen pencils, or go swimming, or what not. But, later, coming back and reading what I have produced, I am unable to detect the difference between what came easily and when I had to sit down and say, “Well, now it’s writing time and now I’ll write.” There’s no difference on paper between the two.Frank Herbert

Some writers can write at least a few words every day, like Graham Green or Stephen King, while others can’t.

But most writers have their favorite time of day, when if feels that a number of factors are set up in such a way that they can easily indulge in their favorite habit. I write mostly at night. Some write during the day, or when it’s raining.

I like to write during the night because it’s more quiet outside, and it’s far easier to create a wall between me and the rest of the world. Because out of all art forms, writing requires solitude most of all. This isn’t a spectator art; you can’t sit at a desk and write with your back against a cheering crowd.

G.G. Marquez can’t write unless there’s a yellow rose in his room, and there has to be no other books in the room except for a few encyclopedias. Some writers can’t write unless the sunlight’s passing through the window at a certain angle, or unless they’re smoking their favorite blend of tobacco, or are seated at their favorite desk. Some writers require such a precise set of elements to work together that them writing becomes a sort of miracle.

And then there’s Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who wrote in his head, replaying sentences over and over again and adding new ones every day until he had an entire novel safely locked inside the drawers of his brain. Fantastic, considering that he was doing all this while being a prisoner in a Soviet Gulag.

Some are fast writers, some are slow, some write during the day, and some write only at night. Some write when they feel inspired, when they can’t hold the words inside their heads, some try to write every day, regardless of their mood.

To be honest,  I kind of envy those writers who are able to write in cafes and such. I need to be alone when I write. Heck, I need to be alone when I read. There’s something about silence and solitude… the same way there was nothing before God created the Universe and all that.

What are your writing habits?

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10 thoughts on “TMM: Writing Habits

  1. My writing habits? Sometimes the muse is with me, sometimes she’s not. I write when the muse hands me ideas.

    That’s a great quote from Frank Herbert. “You’re not killing the goose, you’re just producing an egg.”… love it! 🙂

  2. I have to listen to my favorite radio shows to get me loosened up. This way I’m not so uptight. I might even walk around New York City for a while. They energy of the city inspires me to put the pen to the paper. But the solitude is very important. If being alone is painful for you good luck trying to write. Because you can’t have too many distractions. The mind will try to write but with noise it has to work extra hard to make you write well and detect all the sensory activity in your space.

  3. Normally, I’m a night writer, too. The darkness outside seems to help me focus. But there are also occasions when inspiration hits me on the subway and I write several good paragraphs of story right then and there! It’s funny the times when the muse visits, huh?

  4. I do like writing by myself, but I have to do it. Even if all I’m able to do is 15 minutes a day, and all the shows up on the screen is garbage, I have to do it. Worse case scenario, I can always turn that garbage into treasure later. I’ve found I’m having to do that these day. I might get a single page of garbage written, and the next day I can turn into something worth reading.
    I’ve a large collection of music, and I like listening to it while I write. Depending on the mood, I listen to Classical, country, and a lot of instrumentals. My personal favorite to listen to, especially for action sequences. is anything from Two Steps to Hell..

  5. Like you I need quiet. I need solitude to allow my thoughts to focus. There is a huge difference in my writing when I have the opportunity to write from the heart, so to speak. I think it has a far better quality than the words I use when I am being interrupted or distracted by stuff. Yet, the more I write the more I need to write – it’s almost an obsession.

  6. I get dreams of some of my characters speaking to each other, their emotions, dialogues etc. And in the morning I re live those dreams and write it down in paper!
    And at other times that is most of times I write when I am unable to carry the burden of the topic that has stimulated my thought process in a great way..!!
    And sometimes I write under pressure when I deliberately push myself to complete a given blog post quickly!

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