How I write

No, this is not a repeat. In the past I have talked about the different tools I use to write and edit. I have talked about things that inspire my books and my writing. That's all fine and well but this is more about the environment I create for myself when I do the majority of my writing.

Sure, inspiration can come at any time and every author has their own way to capture those thoughts and inspirations in the moment. Some may use their phones or tablets while others may carry a notepad and others may carry an audio recorder (though technically today's phones can also record audio). But however an author jots down those flash of the moment ideas, that is not typically how they write the bulk of their material. I doubt many authors have written a full novel by only writing in the spur of the moment line by line or jotting down random notes that were later cobbled together into a cohesive story.

No, most authors weave those moments of inspiration into story lines, character backgrounds, and world details that they have agonized over for months, sometimes years. Some authors like to work in silence. Some like to work while out in public. Each author has their own preference of how they like to do a lot of their writing.

For me, its with music somewhere isolated and at least semi-private.

I don't like to write while in public areas. There is a lot of noises, motion, and activity that tend to distract me. I'm a people watcher when in public. I like to observe people. Observing others and having one's attention pulled in every direction with constant activity does not usually bode well for getting a lot of writing accomplished.

Now, I can sit in my living room with the TV on with my wife sitting next to me and write. Granted, I don't write as much or as fast in that scenario but I am able to produce something which is better than nothing. But if there was anyone else in the room, I wouldn't be able to write at all. With others there, there is usually chit-chat and other distractions that take my mind off of what I'm writing. When its just me and her, she'll ask if I'm writing and if I say yes then she keeps the conversation to a minimum to let me focus but the same cannot be said when there are others around.

But if I really want to get some serious writing done, I go to my office and sit in front of my computer. The door is closed to keep others out (not locked but closed), the TV is off so I won't get involved in any show that might keep me from writing, and the only noise aside from the clacking of my keyboard is the random music selection playing from my computer's speakers.

I have an extensive library of music, the product of being 40 something years old and converting all of my tapes to CDs in the 90's and then all of those CDs to MP3s not long after Apple released the first iPod. Combine all that old music with the constant supply of new music and digital downloads (thank you iTunes!) and I'm left with thousands of songs at my fingertips with no Internet connection required.

I have no musical talents and sing about as well as a sick donkey but I still love music. Listening to music is relaxing for me and helps me to enjoy my time without creating a lot of visual or auditory distractions. In short, I can still think and process data while listening to music whereas in a crowd I am constantly processing my surroundings and not thinking about my stories.

And the same is true for when I travel. When I have to travel for work, which I haven't done for some time (thanks COVID), I can generally get a lot of writing done in my hotel room. I do my day job but when I leave the office and go to the hotel, I sit in front of my laptop with my music playing and just write. There have been times where I was able to complete multiple chapters in a single week after not being able to write more than a few paragraphs for weeks, sometimes months, before because I couldn't get that solitude I crave when I write.

That said, I've never tried using headphones to play music outside of my office or the hotel room to write. Would the headphones drown out enough of my surroundings to let me write more productively in other places? Is it worth exploring? I mean, if I have the freedom to go to Starbucks with my headphones to attempt to write something then it would stand to reason that I would have the same freedom to go to my office or my hotel room to write in a manner that I know to be productive. It might be worth at least trying once to see how it works in case I find myself in that situation at some point but since I live in the country, miles away from a Starbucks or anywhere else someone might just hang out and write, the odds of me being 'that guy' are pretty low.

I don't begrudge anyone who writes like that. In fact, I think it must take some pretty good focus and determination to sit in a crowd like that and not let it be a distraction. I can't do it, or at least I haven't found a way to do it yet, and I commend anyone who can. I've found what works for me and for now, that's what I plan on sticking to.

A nice quiet room with only me, my keyboard, and some relaxing, familiar tunes playing the background. That's all I need and want and that's how I write. It works for me and there's really not much else to say.

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