How Do You Write? (Part Three)

Writer's View

When I write, I imagine I am God, the omniscient observer, rather than the characters in the scenes.

I handwrite as well as type. I handwrite story world ideas, character sketches, scenes, first drafts. I type on a laptop everything else.

I set a daily word quota and reach it. I can write on my laptop up to 1,000 words an hour. Most of them are badly ordered though. I do not know yet how to write a proper sentence.

I use a time tracking application for my computer writing sessions. I take a break every 45 minutes and listen to up to three songs on my headphones, and then go back to writing. If I am inspired, I can write without a break for over an hour an a half, without taking my eyes off the screen.

I never read what I write until I get everything in my head on paper. If possible, I do not read what I have written on the same day.

I aim for simplicity. I avoid adverbs and adjectives because they are the first words that I cut. I use the simplest and shortest words I can think of. I use figurative language only if it comes naturally.

I try to avoid the passive. I cut it when I see it, but sometimes I just miss it.

I enjoy outlining. With my story though I plan to outline only the first fifty pages, and then let the friction between the characters generate the storyline. I do not outline short stories.

I always try to write from within. The spark that creates the story has to be inside of me, not outside. It has to be a sincere feeling, not an external idea.

I have not yet found my style. I like segregated and periodic sentences.

I have not yet found my voice. I like polite indifference.

I have not yet learned how to rewrite and edit. Any writer reading this journal will notice that. I cannot get into the required state of mind.

I wear a hat when I write. It makes me feel more confident.

Part three of a three-part series. Here I asked why I write and here when I write.

25 thoughts on “How Do You Write? (Part Three)

  1. Well, I’m amused my your writing style; you express your ideas eloquently, and I like the fact that you’ve confessed so openly on certain things that you’ve not yet learnt, but as you know, learning is a never ending process, therefore, you shouldn’t worry at all.

    How do I write?

    Well, I write anything that tickles my grey cell, but I do take my readers’ in consideration, I try to get positive feedback from my friends, and keep away from controversial topic. I know I’ve a lot of flaws in my writing, but this is just a process of improvement, and there is no way to improve if we don’t try at all.

    1. I don’t really like to show my writing to anyone, at least until I feel I am ready to abandon it. I’m not yet sure whether that’s good or bad.

      I tip my hat.

  2. Sometimes I write as if I’m God, but perhaps more so, as if Im watching a film, seeing the scenes and characters unfold from a distance, as if I’m the removed observer, watching and not commenting on what I see. Other times I write as if I’m channeling a voice that takes on a shape and a history as I write, and while I’m not her, I’m following her around, closely, as if I’m seeing through her eyes, speaking her voice, her thoughts, on paper.

    What I love about writing is that ability to “be” the other, to be “I” and “other” as the same time, to feel that we already are the other whether we know it or not, and to somehow move into the mystery of things that move around us, to be that, to be moving there in the midst, even while I’m here, alone, still, typing, typing.

    I like long sentences that seem to flow and evolve even as I write because I do not know what I will write until I write it, and so the flow of my thought changes subtly from one phrase to the next, like ripples in water, like leaves moving in trees, like a mosaic of tiny pieces that shine separately, together.

    I like as well spare, muscular writing that is lean and taut. Mostly bone. Well honed, like sculpture. A curve leaning against empty space. The way what’s there and what’s not there play against each other.

    I like the sound of words in my mind, the way they flow together, the cadence and rhythmn and rhyme. I can’t write poetry. It all wants to rhyme and no one seems to like that anymore except me. I have to guard against too much illiteration. I love illiteration. I love words too much. I lose readers because sometimes I get lost in the words and want to play there all day and the reader just wants me to keep moving along–why are you wasting my time? Are you stuck, are you drunk? And then I have to drag myself away and kill all my darlings. I’m always killing my darlings.

    That’s how I write.

    1. Deborah, you have a much clearer idea about how you write than I do about how I write.

      To tell you the truth, once I begin writing I think only of the action I’m describing and the feeling that’s inside. I don’t really think of style, form, or anything else. I do try to think of those when I edit though.

      Your comment is pretty and thanks to it this journal is a little prettier. I tip my hat to your for writing it.

      PS: I like poetry but I think it’s pompous.

  3. I read this three times in a row. You are way more disciplined then I am. However I strive to be like you in my writing disciplines. Everything you write is clever and simple.

    1. In my case, I lack talent so I try to compensate with discipline.

      Read only important things more than once! Men with glasses are okay, but women with glasses… I don’t know. It works for brunettes, but not for blondes.

      Ha! Imagine Coco not only with a hat, but also with glasses!

  4. “I use a time tracking application for my computer writing sessions. I take a break every 45 minutes and listen to up to three songs on my headphones, and then go back to writing. If I am inspired, I can write without a break for over an hour an a half, without taking my eyes off the screen.”

    I was quite the admirer of the ascetic writing and studying schedule that Immanuel Kant kept. I even longed for such a lifestyle at one point. It sounds like you have found a balance that fits you, well, like a hat.


    1. If all things would fit me as well as a hat, I will one day be president.

      I do not know what writing and studying schedule Kant followed, but you made me curious, and I’ll find out.

  5. I tend to write erratically, for hours in one sitting. Not because I want to (although when I write, time does not exist for me), but because life gets in my way; a dull, boring job and single-parenting three teenage sons can leave me emotionaly spent and time-deprived for days on end. Not having enough time to write can depress me, but I strive every day to be more disciplined, to write just something, anything, every day, but unfortunately it doesn’t typically work out that way. So I may find myself with a free Saturday or Sunday and write obsessively for 8-10 hours, finishing 10-12 pages, leaving me exhausted yet completely satisfied, sated, like how my cat looks licking her lips after a meal.
    I also rework and edit what I write as I go along, which I am trying to avoid lately, as I realize it slows me down considerably. But yet, I find that way works best for me because when I finally find the next chance to sit and write again, and reread my latest chapter, I like that I can take off where I ended, and not have the nagging feeling that I need to edit and rewrite too much. It burdens my mind and I find that I struggle with my next chapter if my last isn’t “75% there”.
    My story, my characters, their dialogue, “their lives” are life in my head and I’m considering getting a voice recorder to “write” that way when I don’t have time to sit at my computer and get it all out. My best ideas come when I’m jogging or after I’ve meditated and about to fall asleep.

    1. I can’t imagine how though it is to raise 3 teenagers on your own. You’re a hero!

      I understand what you mean about editing. It feels bad to leave a chapter unedited and then move on to the next. It’s like leaving your mistress unkissed to hurry to your wife. 🙂

      Getting a voice recorder is a great idea. Once you get into the habit of recording things you will amass ideas.

  6. Do you really wear a hat when you write and if so, is it the same hat or do you have many? Or is the wearing of a hat not to be taken literally?
    I write in my head, which, of course, isn’t writing, it’s thinking about writing.
    I write in one of the big chairs, on my laptop, revising and rewriting constantly. I generally write in the evening, after I’ve taken care of all the animals I have. If I’m writing about something serious or in a series, I save drafts and revise again, and again.
    Perhaps I didn’t answer directly. I’ll revise my answer tomorrow. 🙂 Happy?

    1. I really wear a hat when I write. It is usually pajamas + hat.

      I am so happy that I clicked my heels. It is a pity you have not seen me do it. (I almost stumbled and fell over my desk).

  7. I like the picture I now have of you writing madly away, like Kerouac on speed only classier, with your fabulous magical thinking cap, all day, all night, with only brief breaks to sip music. I will remember this picture next time I have my 5 stolen moments to try to finish a sentence.

    1. Every comment you leave on this blog is a ray of sunshine, a fluttering of butterflies’ wings, a trumpet blast from heaven.

      Fabulous magic thinking cap. I like that. That’s how I’ll refer to my hat from now on.

      I haven’t read Kerouac, but since you probably have, I will too. If you liked it, there’s a good chance I will like it too.

      1. What a delightful gentleman you are. As for Kerouac, I only recommend him for the curious. He’s interesting but he does not really move me like Italo Calvino or Jose Saramago. Who moves you, VM?

      2. The girl in the hat moves me. Believe me or not, I have butterflies in my stomach as I write this!

        G.G. Marquez, Guy de Maupassant, Shakespeare, and violent gusts of winter wind also move me.

        If I could send at your door a bunch of troubadours to sing you serenades, and a rain of flower petals, and an ice-cream truck, I would do it. But your husband and children will probably chase them all off. (The children might like ice-cream.)

  8. Huh. I read this and realized I’m not even sure how I write. If I’m really moved, like I’ve been these last couple of days, I can sit in my old, pink moon chair for hours and hours, never reading a single word I’ve written. I usually don’t read it until a couple of days later; I just like to get it out of my head, otherwise it bugs me throughout the day and I can’t think of anything BUT.
    I’m a big editor, when it suits me. I have to set time aside for editing specifically, or else all my time goes into this and I get nowhere.
    I typically like to write in a baggy T-shirt and sweat pants or shorts, depending on the weather, and with a big glass of juice. Don’t ask me why, but I just need it. Music, as well. I like to listen to soundtracks while I write; the Lord of the Rings soundtrack, music from the sixth season of Doctor Who… Sometimes I’ll listen to darker music, depending on the part of the story I’m in. As long as it’s musically complicated and beautiful and mysterious. It really helps me feel what they feel, because, trust me, these characters feel whatever THEY want. I’m pretty much just their slave as well as their voice.

    1. Do you edit sitting on your pink moon chair or in some other place? Do you change the font? Do you use another computer? Do you change your clothes?

      1. All of my writing is done in this pink moon chair. I like to play with the fonts, though. All the time. But everything I’ve ever written is on one computer, and I sometimes write with my laptop, but I like using my desktop a bit more. I have to change my clothes eventually, but I wait until I’ve gotten at least 2,000 words written. 😛

  9. VM (could not nest another reply into the above exchange)–

    My children would smother you with kisses. My man would probably challenge you to a duel. I would stand in the corner, taking notes and laughing into my hand.

    You are a debonair flirt. Now please recommend your favorite Maupassant story for me, since I never know where to begin.

    1. If John challenges me to a duel, I hope he will at least let me choose the weapons. It will be pistols. Évariste Galois died at 20 too, so I will be in good company.

      As to Guy’s short stories, take your pick between Two Little Soldiers, Two Friends, and The Diary of a Madman. Each takes no longer than 15 minutes. If you want something a bit longer, there’s The Duel, which seems only a fit recommendation considering our present situation.

      If you have an e-book reader here’s a link to a collection of Guy’s short stories, where you will find all the above.

      Do tell me what you make of Guy’s short stories, (Jo)anna.

  10. I am going to try your quota… it would do me some good. I find, however, that I am not very articulate with my emotions when I type. A pen alone can mark the words from my heart. It is only the tinking part of me that the keyboard engages.

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