My questions for writers

Are you a writer? I have some questions for you. Please answer them. In return for your time and kindness, one day I will track you down and take you out for mojitos. We’ll drink and gossip like old school friends. By the end of the night I’ll know all your secrets, and you’ll know that I can’t hold my liquor. We’ll laugh and laugh and laugh.

1. Where do you write best?

2. When do you write best? (I.e. any particular time of day/day of week?)

3. What are your must-have-with-you-at-all-times-when-writing items (if any)?

4. How do you write? E.g. do you edit as you go along, do you brain dump and edit later, etc.

5. How do you make the editor in your head shut the puck up?

6. How do you snap out of procrastination mode?

7. How much do you write in a week?

Thanks! *bats eyelashes*

6 responses to “My questions for writers

  1. I feel that in the interest of fairness, I can’t really expect to extract this information from your writerbrainz without offering the same, so here are my answers.

    1. In cafes. But not just any cafes. They must have the following attributes:

    >> Must have decent coffee, obviously, and staff who won’t judge me for drinking enough black gold in under an hour to develop a visible twitch.

    >> They should be empty enough that I don’t feel bad for taking up a table for hours on end.

    >> They should be busy enough that there is a little background buzz, but not TOO buzzy.

    >> Preferably no loud, obnoxious children (sorry kids. Sorry mums).

    >> They should have somewhere to plug in my laptop.

    >> They should have comfy chairs, ambient lighting, and music that doesn’t make me cringe.

    So… I’m not that fussy.

    2. Late at night or mid-afternoon.

    3. Coffee. Or tea. Comfy chair. Laptop, pen and paper. Analog AND digital, YEAH.

    4. I edit as I go along. It’s an unhelpful impulse that I am trying desperately to curb.

    5. See above. I can’t. Although… on the occasions that I have been able to do so, it’s been because I’ve either a) been in a structured situation where I feel external pressure to just sit down and bloody WRITE (e.g. when I did the Urban Writers Retreat in London), or b) when I’ve just been at home and used the timer on my phone (i.e. “I will now do nothing but write words for the next 90 minutes until the alarm sounds… aaaaaaand GO!”).

    6. I find this difficult when it’s writing I’m doing for myself, e.g. the book. When it’s work stuff I can usually snap out of it and just do it. But when it’s my own stuff… I have no special tricks. Halp.😦

    7. Work stuff: lots. Own stuff: not enough.

  2. 1. With my laptop in bed. Or irritatingly, around a pool on holiday when I inevitably only have the pen I nicked out of the hotel room, and a moleskine. Writing it up when I get home is a ‘mare.

    2. Midnight – 2am. Again, irritatingly.

    3. It’s more a must *not* have. I turn off the router so I can’t go on the internets.

    4. I do a bit of both. I tend to write a few hundred words, then go back and edit a bit. Or I edit the previous day’s work before I begin the next bit.

    5. I tell him to go away and watch Sky Sports News or something. (ho ho ho, I’m so *funny*)

    6. I’ve yet to master this one, sadly.

    7. Not enough. It can vary from 10,000 words to absolutely bloody nothing.

  3. 1. In my bedroom, hidden away. Go away, stop disturbing me. Unless you have tea? Then we can be friends.

    2. Sundays. Or late afternoon – evening. But I sometimes start around 11 at night and then carry on until the wee small hours. Which is pretty stupid.

    3. Tea. Or latte. Nothing else really.

    4. I brain dump. A lot. I type and type and type and type and don’t stop until my head is empty. Sometimes it doesn’t go very well. I guess I’d rather have crap I can edit than nothing at all. And I get all excited by a word count. If I’ve written 5000 words I’m happy, even if 4500 of them are rubbish.

    5. She shouts at me sometimes. Usually when I’m writing in the wrong place with stuff around me that’s annoying (people, mess, music). But I shut her up and tell her when I’m finished she can go nuts. Usually works.

    6. I don’t really stop procrastinating. If I’ve been writing a lot, my house is usually very tidy, my DVDs will be organised and the spice rack alphabetised. If my house is a mess, I haven’t been writing very much. I like procrastinating. It’s fun. And I’d rather not beat myself up about it.

    7. Depends. I’m not writing very much at the moment (aside from work, obviously), but I’m editing, so I’m cutting out all sorts of crap. But if I wrote 5000-7ooo words a week I’d be pretty happy.

  4. hi, i got here browsing wordpress tags. if you don’t mind i’ll answer, since i am a sort of wannabe writer (though not in english, i’m spanish), and it sort of amuses me to answer such questions.

    1. It depends. When I am taking notes, i.e. jotting down, it can be anywhere, library, park, coffee shop, train, my house of course and in it: bedroom desk, bed, couch, living room table, kitchen table. But when I write-write, i.e. I work on the text, most of the times on what I’ve previously jotted down, it’s at the computer on my bedroom desk or with a laptop on the kitchen table. Both are secluded spots and quite the only places where I can do this kind of work properly.

    2. In the morning, from, say, 3 to 12. Which is why I’m fine with the night too, only the mind doesn’t function before sleeping as well as after. This is what I prefer, but if the circumstances require it could be other times of day.

    3. Don’t have any.

    4. Answered mainly in n. 1. I mostly jot down and then edit, i.e. I take stuff out of my brain and then reshape it on the basis of the material itself – like a sculptor who has to deal with the raw block he’s using, following and respecting its natural seams – until it’s acceptable. Rarely I’d go the other way around, i.e. use a composition-project where I plan the outcome beforehand and then fill in the blanks.

    5. I don’t think I do such a thing. If I could I would probably never stop editing. That’s why I like blogs (I’ve had a couple). I can constantly edit posted stuff. I don’t think I would do well in the publishing system.

    6. Don’t have a method. I guess I don’t really apply discipline on this. I mainly just wait for things to happen. I do experience guilt about my lazyness though.

    7. Well it’s not my profession yet, so it’s been oscillating. Let’s say when I write a lot it’s five hours a day, but if I do such a thing it would very unlikely be on a 7/7 basis.

  5. Great post, Jess! I love nosying at everyone’s answers. We’re all just too tempted by the prospect of mojitos with you!

    1) In bed with pen and paper, and a Harry Potter film (or any other that I’ve seen a million times) on. I have to have some noise, I get too twitchy in silence, but it has to be something I know well enough to tune out. Or, I hole myself up in the tiny box room which in my house we jokingly call “Jane’s office”. It’s only big enough to fit a desk, my laptop and me, but when I’m being antisocial, that’s all I need. Or I’m a fan of writing on trains, but only long-distance ones that I’ll be on for a while. I get in too much of a tizz if I start scribbling when commuting, and end up in Catford or other dreadful places because I am obviously unable of concentrating on more than one thing at once.

    2. Night-times, and weekends. It takes me a long time to get in the zone, but once I’m in it, I can usually rattle away for a while, so the longer I have at a stretch, the better.

    3. Pen and paper, or computer. Preferably BOTH. And tea.

    4. Similar to Gemma, a bit of both. Although if I can keep forging onwards rather than obsessively going back to edit, I get a lot more done.

    5. I just ignore her. She’ll have her day, but today isn’t it.

    6. Deadlines are the only things that make me do it, so I have to enforce them on myself, even if it’s only “in the next 15 minutes, you’d better have logged out of Twitter, stopped imaging Harry Potter gaying it off with Draco, and written half a page, or you’re in deep, deep trouble…” Or I tell myself I’m not allowed to watch Project Runway/crack the wine open until a certain amount is done.

    7. Depends. Usually not enough, but I try to do some every day. If I can get a couple of thousand words of fiction on top of the non-fiction stuff, then that’s enough to stop the guilt!


  6. Many belated thanks for your answers, all.

    Gemma: I SO agree re: internet. The devil.

    Sian: You have no idea how much the sentence, “I guess I’d rather have crap I can edit than nothing at all” has helped me this month. Basically became my NaNoWriMo mantra.

    Wash: I have laziness guilt too. Lots of it. It usually turns into approaching-deadline panic, and finally night-before-deadline productivity. But mostly there’s the laziness guilt.

    Jane: Major lolz re: Harry Potter gaying it off with Draco. Brilliant.

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