I get most of my ideas from some type of interaction with a child at any age group and any type of activity. Sometimes just floating on our flat boat on our pond with my son. While the sun glistens on the water and the dragonflies gently land on us. Also, listening to what kids are saying and "take the time."
How: That’s a toughie, but I tend to like writing with a computer in front of me. Computers are convenient because it’s nice and neat and so easy to use. But, sometimes, there’s a downside. Some people can get stuck using a computer all the time, if you’re like me that is, and most writers are at some point. In that case, whip out the good ol’ pad and pencil; sometimes there’s nothing like them. A pad and pencil help me to forget all of the technology around me, and just really think about what I’m writing. Usually, my best writing comes from my paper-entries; whenever I get stuck on my novel, or even writing an essay for school, I always turn back to my faithful Steno-pad. And it’s ok if you start over several times in a notebook, DON’T tear out the pages, until you’re completely finished: you’d be surprised how several false starts can come together to form a beautiful beginning to your project.
Where: Well, for me personally, it’s wherever I feel comfortable at the moment. Usually, however that’s at the computer desk in front of my screen, but when I use a notebook, I’ll most likely end up on the couch or in a comfortable chair with my feet up and a nice cushion to my back. Not too comfortable, or you’ll get drowsy! But, a few times in the past, I’ve ended up outside, even in the tree house with my sibling. Wherever you feel like going at the moment, go. It’s the best advice I can give; don’t fret about it, just do it. Get comfortable, and let your mind unfold.
When: For me, most times when a thought pops into my head that I think is worth remembering. I don’t really have a schedule, though I do tend to write better at night or early in the morning. But sometimes, there’s no stopping me; if the dialogue I’ve been working on suddenly falls in place, I write it down, no matter what time of day. (I even halted my sleep at 11:30 one night and wrote down an entire conversation because I knew I wouldn’t remember it the next morning). It’s ok: if you keep weird hours, you keep weird hours, don’t feel bad. Writers have imaginations, and they usually don’t stop for rest.
Why: Now that’s the big one. I write because I love it, characters and places open up to me, new worlds are born. Ideas are sorted out, conflictions are solved, and life’s questions are one step further to being answered. I also like to write because I want to give people the joy and excitement that I get every time I open a beloved book. You know that feeling you get when Tolkien describes Aragorn and Eomer standing alongside each other at Helm’s Deep? Or when the Black Knight rushes into the burning castle to save Ivanhoe and the Saxon princess? That’s why I write, because I want to give people those characters to love and cherish, and those emotions to keep whenever they read my works. Hopefully, someday that will happen. But for know, I’m writing to improve and better what I do know, and to gain experience in the world of publishing. And people’s feelings about writing change. Sometimes you start out to get famous, and end up doing it just because you love it, even though you never get recognition for it. That’s alright, too. Write just because you love it.
How: I put pen to page before typing anything. Maybe something about scribbling in my own script is more organic or tactile, so creativity flows better. More likely that it is just habit born of necessity…I started writing as a child and only had a typewriter for eight years, which I had saved to purchase for myself on my thirteenth birthday, and I had a limited budget for correction tape and typing paper.
When: I write three afternoons a week while my daughter is at childcare, and at night after she goes to bed. Mornings are reserved for housework, errands, or rest. I have two chronic pain conditions, so pain or sleepless nights or medication side effects can throw off the schedule, but I stick to it as much as possible.
Where: My living room is the most uncluttered room in my apartment, and I feel more creative and able to concentrate there since it is empty of distractions that call to those who work at home. Then I go to my desk in a corner of the bedroom and type. When confined to my bed or couch, I write there and type manuscripts on a laptop. I move into a house soon, instead of sharing a one-bedroom apartment with my preschooler, which will afford me an office – with a door! It will include my big, soft (but not “sleepy soft”) wingback chair, where I can curl up my legs, place a steno pad on my lap, and draft manuscripts.
Why: I could say that for ten years as a corporate writer, I wrote because I had to, but that is not entirely true. I did, but I also created additional opportunities to write within my positions. Writing is a well-fed compulsion for me. I help with resumés and editing and proofreading because a lot of people have interesting experiences and ideas but stink at presentation. I write for parents because parenting is difficult, and sometimes we are drained of ideas and solutions, and need to know we are not alone in our struggles. I write for children because I love the optimism with which they approach life. I write poetry so I don’t implode. I write ten-page letters when my fingers are itching and I can’t think of anything else to write, just so I don’t waste the moment. I write because I love to write and it is what I do best. I write because my words are a legacy, and that is the closest I may ever get to fulfilling my delusions of grandeur.
Why: Writing is the skill I am best at but, more importantly, it is part of my heart and soul. I view words like a painter views paint. A painter creates a picture of beauty or heartbreak from paint while I do the same with words. Words, if used correctly and in the context of a situation, can provide a vision for people that will motivate the individual to take action. The best writing grows fine with age, just like wine.
When: I can write anyplace that provides inspiration. That may be at night, in the morning or in the afternoon. I prefer to write at night, however. Late at night I can think about what I have seen and can take the time to find the best words to say. Through experience, I have found that late at night is my best time for me to put in the right perspective what I have done, seen, or heard that day.
How: I use the old-fashioned method of paper and pencil for the first few drafts but then use a desktop PC for the final drafts.
Where: I can write in almost any setting but I am not a people person. I suppose you have to be to be a writer but when writing, prefer places with few people or a private hideway. My two favorite places are my home office with all my research books and my van. There is great inspiration in traveling to different places and writing about the different cultures you see.
Why: I write because it has become a part of who I am. It’s like a mad addiction of which there is no escape. Writing is not just my job, it is something I truly love doing and I honestly believe that if I was ever into a position in which I couldn’t write, I would literally lose my mind!
How: Interestingly, and quite ironically, several years back I developed a repetitive motion injury. Yet, such an injury does not mean certain death to a writer. In fact, I use a speech recognition program to compose my works and such software allows me to avoid the constant strain of repetitious movement. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for modern technology!
When: I write professionally, so often times I have to write. Nonetheless, I also write because I love doing so and find that in the late night hours, when the entire house is quiet, I find my muse most active!
Where: I write wherever and whenever I can. For instance, sometimes I draft works in a journal or notebook and later convert them to text. Thus, I am free to write pretty much any where I want to. Sometimes I like writing outdoors, but most times I write in my home office. Finally, I always make sure that I either have a notebook or a mini tape recorder with me to document ideas; ideas can be slippery and I want to be sure that I get them as soon as they reveal themselves!
Why: I write because I have to. I see characters around me all day long, waiting to be used in stories. A few weeks ago there was a tiny old woman driving in front of me. She was going very slowly on the expressway, when a cop cut her off. Up ahead we both passed the cop, who had pulled someone over, on the side of the road. I watched as the old lady slowed down even more, and gave the cop the finger as she passed. She appeared to be quite a character in real life; imagine what you could do with her in a story.
When: I can write any time of day. I've gotten up at the crack of dawn to scribble down an idea I had, and I've stayed up late into the night, also.
How: I use my laptop to write. I also carry a small notebook with me to work so I can jot down ideas or snatches of conversations I overhear.
Where: I write best without a lot of people around me. This rules out coffee shops, even though I do go there sometimes. I usually end up people-watching. (But then I get some good characters out of that, so not all is lost.) I'm in my writing zone when I'm in my office with candles burning and music playing. The music can be anything from Enya to Metallica; whatever puts me in the mood.