This month – a little quiz. My favorite column in The Writer each month is HOW I WRITE. In fact, I flip straight to the back of the magazine while carrying it in from the mailbox because HOW I WRITE is always the last thing to be found between the pages. Like the name implies, a featured author (different each issue) answers a series of simple questions and takes you step by step through their own personal method for creating new work, which usually includes spilling the beans about their daily habits and writing schedule. This passing glimpse into another writer’s world is comforting to me, regardless of how much my own process may vary. After all my years of reading it, this is what I’ve learned from HOW I WRITE: Celebrity or newbie, moneyed or broke, seasoned or still sorting it all out, we all put our pants on one leg at a time, and it’s often pajama pants.
In the end, it’s a very intimate and diverse thing, where we write, how we write, and what we drink and/or eat while we write. I’d love to hear how you get the creative juices flowing so today I’ve created my own little HOW I WRITE.
Here are my questions, as well as my own answers. Thanks for sharing your process with me! I greatly appreciate it.
WHY DO YOU WRITE?
ME: Have to! It’s like hunger. I would shrivel to nothing and blow away if I did not write.
WHERE DO YOU WRITE?
ME: At my computer in my wonderful half-sloppy/half-organized home office. The half-organized part is my husband’s part.
WHERE IS THE CRAZIEST PLACE YOU’VE EVER WRITTEN?
ME: On a rotted sofa in Death Valley surrounded by dusty running burros and rusty bedsprings and a smoky potbelly stove in the sagging shell of an old miner’s cabin, rumored to be the burial ground of Manson’s unfound victim.
DO YOU WRITE EVERYDAY?
ME: Monday – Friday, unless I’m on vacation, and sometimes even then.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL WRITING DAY LIKE FOR YOU?
ME: I put my daughter on the bus at 6:30, pour a bowl of cereal, and head to the office. I deal with email and social media first, then, if I can tear myself away from that, I dig in. I devote a great deal of my time to marketing these days and spend less time writing, but that’s all part of the job, right? I work until 3, when school lets out, having polished off several cups of coffee and lunch and maybe a snack or two over the course of my workday. It’s difficult for me to accomplish much after my family gets home. I love my writing time but I love family time even more so it’s usually by choice that I clock out for the day at 3.
DO YOU USE OUTLINES WHEN YOU WRITE?
ME: Not a proper outline, no. I do a lot of my pre-writing inside my head. I’m a note-jotter. My first draft is kind of an in-depth outline. I often write out of order just to get the important bits down on paper while they’re clear in my mind. I do a lot of editing and switching things around once I get the whole story hammered out. If I write an outline, it’s usually because I need one to sell the piece.
WHICH COMES FIRST FOR YOU WHEN RESEARCH IS NEEDED FOR YOUR WORK: DO YOU WRITE AND GO BACK AND FILL-IN THE NEEDED FACTS AFTERWARD, OR DO YOU DO ALL OF YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE YOU START?
ME: I do a combination of both but most of the research gets done after the fact or as I’m going along. I LOVE research. Often times I find that I don’t know what I’m going to need until I get the story sketched out.
HOW DO YOU REVISE YOUR WORK?
ME: Often and repeatedly. It’s probably my worst writing habit. I’ve gotten better at leaving things alone but it’s a constant temptation to go back and switch words around. It’s hard for me to ever feel like a piece of work is completely done but there comes a point when you really do have to type the words THE END and mean it.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF WRITING?
ME: I love creating characters and giving them a voice and building a home for them.
WHAT DO YOU WEAR WHEN YOU WRITE?
ME: You know ☺
Carole Lanham is the author of The Whisper Jar, The Reading Lessons, and Cleopatra’s Needle. Visit her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/carole.lanham?ref=tn_tnmn