Friday, July 08, 2011

The Writing Week (Vol. 4) part 183 - What is Your Writing Process?

Some writers are incredibly picky when it comes to their process. They have to be in a certain seat at a certain desk, facing a specific direction at a specific time of day. They can only use their typewriter (or computer, or notepad) and can only write in two hour uninterrupted intervals. Music must be playing continuously, and the phone must be off. Others are complete free-for-alls in their approach - they will write when the mood strikes, wherever that may be, and will use whatever writing tool is handy.

For the most part, I land somewhere in between. I put in an hour a day (at least). Anything less, and I feel like it's been a waste or a sham - unless, perhaps, I was overly productive for 40 or 50 minutes. I generally write to music (soundtracks) and have a few go-to staples, along with a mix of some of my all-ime favorite soundtrack bytes. I write from home for the most part, though if I'm going out late after work but don't have time to return to Queens first, I'll bring my laptop to the office and get work done there after business hours. The time of day doesn't matter too much; I'm not really a morning person, so it tends to be in the evening. 

This week, though (when I got writing done), I worked wherever I could. I'm revising my Medieval spec still - just about wrapping up Act Two; however, I left a major sequence at the midpoint blank because I'm still not sure how I want it to unfold. Sometimes, when I'm doing a page-one rewrite, I'll literally start with a blank document. This time, I saved the script as a new document and and gradually working my way from page one back to the end, cutting, adding, and changing as I go along. Even if some of the scenes and characters get cut, I like bits of the description and lines involving them, so those parts are staying. It's also easier - I find - to move forward, even changing directions in the script, if I can continuously work off of what was there to begin with. Perhaps a strange approach, but I'm finding it effective, especially because I am not changing the pacing too much. 

At any rate, writing time was making itself pretty scarce, so I had to be flexible. I wrote on a bus down to DC for the 4th, which was a first. Then, yesterday, I spent two hours writing while on a plane en route to San Francisco (another first). It's amazing how much a set of headphones and the right volume levels can help one zone into the work and zone out everything else. And with little other time to write, those few travel hours were integral to furthering the script.

What's your approach - do you have any nonnegotiable essentials to your writing process?


Désirée said...
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Désirée said...

Actually, I don’t need much. I can't afford the luxury of being picky with my situation since I have a day job and a family. So, I have drilled my brain to go to work when I read my notes and/or current script. I also need a computer; I can not write by hand. If I’ve only got ten minutes, ten minutes are still worthwhile.

I can’t write to music, but I can do swell with noise, if it is the irregular kind (not a humming fan or squeaky machine). I need music to produce the basic ideas, so it is needed in other phases, but not when I write.

Cake Man said...

Thanks for the thoughts. I think you're totally right - having a day job necessitates a flexible schedule a lot of the time. If I know I'm going to work late, then I pretty much have to get up early and crank out an hour beforehand. And I'm right there with you on the writing by hand. Sometimes I can get some notes or story ideas done in pen, but for the real writing, it's computer all the way.

Thanks again for weighing in. It is always great to hear from other writers (especially those whose careers are rolling along).