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Weird Writing Habits

Like all crazy people writers, I have an exceptional laundry list of tics and habits when I write.

I need absolute silence.

I need a chair and a desk, and I often draw my knees up as I brainstorm, ready to hug and rock myself back to sanity after I review the awful failure of what I have just produced.

I can’t write when I’m hot. Add that to my long list of “Reasons Why I Hate Summer.” I never write longhand, I always have to type. I open up a document in Pages (not a must...I just never bought Microsoft Word) and set the text to Times New Roman, 12 pt font. I enter full-screen mode, and wait for the crazy to set in. 

Because from an outside perspective I probably look pretty normal, but on the inside, I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

I constantly write and rewrite lines as I’m working on a scene or dialogue between characters, and I never delete anything. Sometimes I get an idea for the next line of dialogue before I even know how to finish the one I’m still working on, and I write it down because otherwise I’ll forget it forever.

If I’m unsure about a line, I move it to the next page so that by the time I’ve finished, the end of my document is sometimes pages and pages of discarded lines, phrases, and thoughts. And I have even made the lovely mistake of sending a paper in to professor without removing those lines, then saving them in a separate draft file. 

Doctor Who stop deleting

As you can tell, far more hair-pulling and crying happens than actual typing during my designated writing sessions. And I have about a million versions of everything in my laptop.

So I’ve been trying to do something different.

When stuck, when I find myself rewriting the same lines over and over again, I try to seek alternate inspiration. Sort of along the same lines as Emily’s character playlists I look for a song that captures the ethereal atmosphere or intense feeling I’m trying to mold in a scene. Or I look up wide-shot nature photography. (Current obsession: poppy fields.) I have even contemplated drawing my protagonist in a character study in chicken scratch.

But I also try to take E. B. White’s advice to heart: “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”

E. B. White could write in the busiest, loudest part of his house, where everyone could walk through and chat without paying any mind to the fact that he was in the middle of that mind-blowing and elusive act of writing.

I can only justify procrastination for so long.

What are your weirdest writing tics and tricks? What’s been your most effective bet for breaking the writer’s block? Please share in the comments below––I’m desperately in need of ideas.    

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Anna P.

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