I saw this tag on Jenna Moreci‘s vlog and thought the questions also worked well for a NaNoWriMo prep blog post.
WRITER TAG QUESTIONS:
- What do you eat or drink while writing? I drink green tea and lots of it. When I’m in a rush or feeling lazy, I drink Stash organic green tea in bags that I buy in bulk. Or, I drink loose leaf in my teapot if I’m feeling fancy. As for snacks, I haven’t quite figured out how to snack and write at the same time since both things require using my hands. I find that if I’m snacking, I’m not typing. So, I save the snacking for rewards. Recently, I’ve discovered that I really like plain popcorn with just salt as a writing break reward. I also reward myself with dark chocolate. In preparation for NaNoWriMo, I’m making sure that I’m fully stocked up on all my favorites.
- What do you listen to while writing? I prefer to listen to music with no words when I write. Classical music is okay, but I prefer movie score soundtracks or electronic music. For soundtracks, I love the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack, and I just discovered the Children of Dune soundtrack. Both of these are “comfort food” movies for me, which means they work great as soundtracks for highly emotional scenes. As for electronic music, I like dubstep. I have a tendency to enjoy the bro-iest and most intense stuff (Knife Party/Pendulum, Skrillex, and deadmau5, as examples). The beat is motivating for typing fast, and I can tune out the words because they’re kind of repetitive. For this type of thing I like Amazon Music’s playlists. Devastating Dubstep Drops is usually pretty good for the intense stuff, and Electronic Beats for Work is good when I don’t want a lot of lyrics. In preparation for NaNoWriMo, I’ve made sure that all these go-to soundtracks and playlists are available on my phone and on my laptop when they are both in “off-line” mode. If you’re wondering why I need them available when I’m off-line, see my response to the next question…
- What is your biggest distraction while you’re writing? THE INTERNET! Seriously. I have to turn off the wi-fi on my laptop and put my phone on “do not disturb” so it doesn’t beep if I get a message. During the month of November, I’ll probably only be online when I’m at work, or as a reward if I happen to be killing my word count goals and tracking ahead of schedule.
- What is the worst thing that has happened to you while writing? My computer went nuts one time and started deleting a chunk of text I’d just edited. It was like the delete key got stuck or something. I couldn’t stop it and had to just close Scrivener and restart it. Luckily, I had back-ups of the file. I’m usually pretty good about back-ups. I haven’t decided on my back-up strategy for NaNoWriMo this year. I’ll probably export the compiled doc from Scrivener and save it in multiple places before I go to bed each writing day. Or, I may post chapters to Google Docs so I can share them with some of my “alpha readers” to get feedback as I’m writing. Or both. You can never have too many back-ups.
- What is the best thing that has ever happened to you while writing? I finished a novel. And then I did it again. And then I did it one more time. Finishing a novel (even though it just means you have a pile of editing to look forward to), is such a rush. I’m looking forward to doing it again.
- Who do you communicate with while you’re writing? When I have a new idea for a novel I don’t really talk about it in detail with anyone, even my husband, even critique partners. In the early stages of an idea it always feels so tentative, like if I say too much the idea will just fizzle and go away. Or, sometimes the idea is so big and vague I don’t really have words to describe what I want to do, it’s just a feeling or an image in my head. If I try to explain anything to anyone at that stage, I’ll just sound like a crazy person. I’m most comfortable talking about what I’m working on when I’m about half to two-thirds done with the first draft. At that point I’m committed and I have a pretty good idea what I’m doing. So, after I finish my 50k words for NaNoWriMo, I’ll be happy to tell you more about my project. Until then, you’ll just have to wait. 🙂
- What is your secret to success and your biggest writing flaw? Secret to success is definitely discipline combined with persistence, two skills I learned from competitive swimming and coxing crew. My biggest writing flaw is neglecting character development in favor of plot and world-building. Oh, and beginnings. I hate trying to write amazing first chapters, and first sentences are the absolute worst. One of the reasons NaNoWriMo works so well for me is because it’s all about discipline combined with persistence. And I give myself the freedom to write a completely crappy beginning because I know I can always make it better later.
- What is your inspiration? What makes you productive? I’m inspired by professional writers like Victoria Schwab, John Scalzi, and Courtney Milan. Even though they’ve each reached some level of success, they haven’t lost their hustle. They treat their writing career like a business and they still write great books. They inspire me. This is super dorky, but when I was in the middle of editing during Pitch to Publication earlier this year, my husband printed out a copy of one of Victoria Schwab’s photos of her desk (for that day). It’s basically just a table with a laptop, a cup of tea, a notebook, and some headphones. But, it’s become my visual reminder that those writers are just like me. They put on their pants one leg at a time the same way we all do. They put their butts in their seats and their hands on the keyboard and write the words. To quote Victoria Schwab, “One word at a time. One page at a time. One scene at a time. One chapter at a time. One book at a time.” That’s how it’s done, and that’s going to be my NaNoWriMo mantra.
- What is one thing that you do or that other writers do that is super annoying? Compare myself to others. I’m competitive. I try to find healthy ways to compete (like in the pool, for example). But when I’m beating myself up because I don’t think I’ve been as productive as I “should be,” I have an annoying tendency to start comparing myself to others. I’ve gotten better at catching myself doing this, taking a huge step back (and usually off the internet), and focusing my eyes on my own paper. When I’m producing new words (like during NaNoWriMo), this isn’t a problem. When I’m stuck (aka, not writing), it’s easy to find myself falling into the competitive death spiral.
- Are you willing to share something you’ve written? Oh, sure. Why not. In celebration of NaNoWriMo, I’ll post an excerpt from my very first NaNoWriMo novel (un-edited) for your reading pleasure. This is from 2007, and it’s the first time I’ve opened this file in almost that many years. The novel is pretty bad. But because you’ve read this far, you deserve a reward. So, I’ve posted a (somewhat) embarrassing excerpt on my NaNoWriMo author dashboard. You can read it here.
Before I sign off, thanks to Jenna Moreci (who I don’t know, but is another writer who inspires me) for the idea for this post. You can watch her answer these same questions in the video below.
If there are any other writers out there reading this blog, I’d love to hear your responses! Post a link to your blog post (or vlog post) in the comments if you do a response to the “writer tag.”