Writing Habits: A Questionnaire

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A.K.A.: stealing a post idea from Jodie Llewellyn, aspiring YA author.

Writing Habits 

1. Typed or Handwritten?

Definitely typed. Unless I’m on the train to work…or stuck on an elevator…or in the doctor’s waiting room…or in the middle of a meeting at work… My notes are handwritten, but actual sentences are usually typed.

2. Cursive or Printed?

Crinted? Pursive? It’s a combo of cursive and print that’s nothing more than chicken scratch.

3. Show us your favourite pen.

Which ever one is at hand. Bic or gel, I don’t care as long as the ink flows.

4. Where do you like to write?

Last year, I created a writing space in our second bedroom/catch-all room. Now that I’ve stacked papers and books all around me, it feels right. If I could write anywhere, though, it would be a cottage that my family went to during my childhood summers. Inside or out, I’d watch the lake, smell the pine and write. It was fantastic.

5. Who are your five favorite authors in terms of authorial style?

This is the question that’s kept me from posting this blog for weeks. So many authors, so many books… It’s probably a criminal offense, but when I find a writer I like, I rarely run out and read all their books. I think this goes back to my childhood (right Freud?). I loved LOVED The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I rushed to get A Little Princess and couldn’t get into it, no matter how many times I tried. If I like an author, I am certainly more inclined to read their other stuff, but I don’t search it out. And I’m not just  holding on to some childhood notion. If I LOVE a book by a certain author, I’ve found that I’m less likely to be as swept away by their other books. I suppose I want to be swept away by everything and that’s not realistic. I know that this survey is about writing rather than reading, but I still have a very difficult time separating them. If I try to read something strictly as a study of writing, I end up losing. My inner reader takes over.

So, to kind of answer the question, here are 5 books I really like:

Mama Day by Gloria Naylor – I really like how the narrator describes people as food. I loved the idea and could clearly see what she was describing. When another character points out that this dehumanizes people, the narrator changes how she views the world and, consequently, how she describes things. I loved see the change in the character and having what I liked about the descriptions challenged.

Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris – I like this less for the writing style and more for the building blocks. This is one of the few books I’ve read multiple times. There are a few instances when he shifts tense in the middle of a paragraph and that always throws me, but I am so engaged in the characters that I forgive it. I also like that the story is so micro and macro at the same time. We get to know the characters very well (I’m always worried that something will happen to Barney), but the plot is larger than the transformation of just one person. I am always worried that the universes I write about are too small. Harris is able to show the details of a person while not confining the story to their small world.

Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling – I loved Harry Potter and her style in this book was very similar. I love how she builds characters. They feel like flesh and blood and they are always true to themselves, no matter how much I yell at them not to do certain things. No one is truly good. No one is truly bad. And because her characters are true to themselves, her ending is satisfying even if a certain character really upsets me.

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb – I don’t think I’ve ever yelled at characters more. I’d put the book down, swearing it off completely, only to come back to it a few days later because I had to see how it turned out…only to want to hurl the book across the room after a few pages. And yet, I’d come back to it because of how much I hated and cared for the characters. For Lambs She’s Come Undone, I kept checking the book jacket to see if he was indeed a he. Dolores was so well drawn that I found it hard to believe she was written by a man.

When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson – I love Reggie. This book follows three different stories. While I was engaged in all of them, I couldn’t predict how they would all come together. However, watching them come together became secondary for me as a reader. I was more interested in their personal stories.

Bonus: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – Fantastic unreliable narrator. Go read now.

6. What are you your three favourite books on writing?

Hmm…I read more writing blogs and Twitter accounts than I have books. I go back to Ann Lamont’s “Bird By Bird” every so often.

7. Have you ever competed in NaNoWriMo?

Yup. Several times.

8. Have you ever won NaNoWriMo?

Yes! It wasn’t always pretty, but I made it to the finish line at least twice.

9. Have you ever had anything published?

Yes, check out my writing links for Russia: St. Petersburg Self-Service and Transplant. Oddly, my publications are both creative non-fiction.

10. What projects are you working on now?

SKC/VC is the folder name. I’m terrible with working titles…they are usually just my characters’ names. My WIP is a suspense that follows the aftermath of a serial killer. The serial killer’s daughter tries to prove that she won’t turn into her father and the last victim’s son is out for revenge.

11. What is your soundtrack to writing?

I am weird. I write with no music. In my writing room, there’s a ticking clock and a humming aquarium filter, and the rumble of the train that passes by hourly, so I can’t say I write in silence.

12. Do you have a writing pump-up song?

Nope…maybe I need one.

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5 thoughts on “Writing Habits: A Questionnaire

  1. Very cool. It’s always enjoyable to find out about others’ writing habits, favorite authors and style! Thanks for sharing!

    Btw, how did those NaNoWriMo novels come out? The ones you finished, that is? Were they editable into a book that you felt great about publishing? I’m a former NaNoWriMo attempter. Lost it at the end of week 1 some years ago.

    • One of the novels was editable. I polished it up several years later and sent it around. Sadly, no interest. This past NaNo, I won because of the word count, but I was using the time to make a big dent in the WIP I’m still working on. Hoping this one is ready to send before the next NaNo!

      Even if you lost, I bet you have a good basis for a story or book.

  2. Sally

    I agree with you on the writing in quiet. I prefer music that I can sing along to, in general, and I can’t write when I’m singing, so no music when I write! I’m the opposite on the Burnett books, though. I loved Little Princess but Secret Garden traumatized me when I first read it so badly that I couldn’t pick it up again until I was an adult. Seriously, everyone dies from a horrible disease in chapter one. Bodies everywhere! 🙂

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