Now that I’ve beaten back Comodo’s insistence that Mad Genius Club is EVIL! EVIL! and got access back to the site (I’m glad I got rid of the bloody thing. Bastards took over DNS routing and didn’t reset it when I uninstalled. That’s just plain bad manners), I can return to your regular Thursday dose of things weird and Kate.
Since we’ve had a flurry of ‘state of the industry’ posts, I’m going to leave that topic lie and talk about something else altogether: things that writers need to avoid while working on the draft.
No, it’s not a prescriptive list of “thou shalt not”. It’s more a case of “these things have effects that can bugger around with your subconscious”. Since a big chunk of writing in the draft phase is convincing/cajoling/tricking/coercing your subconscious into giving up the goodies it’s holding onto (at least if you’re a pantser like me) and letting them show up on the page, anything that interferes with doing that is something you want to avoid.
For me, there is music that’s good to write to and music that – no matter how much I love it – I simply can’t have on when I’m writing. My no-nos include any music that gets an emotional reaction from me (because the emotional swings in music aren’t going to ever synch with the emotions the work in progress needs to have, and the emotion of the music will override what should be happening in the story), music that forces me to actively listen (I can have music as background or actively listen – but some pieces insist I listen. Those will kill writing progress dead), most music with vocals in English (the words throw me out of the writing trance – although there are exceptions to this).
Music that doesn’t fall into the “don’t write to this” list is mostly neutral – I can have it on and it doesn’t help or hinder.
Then there’s a small set of music that kicks my subconscious into gear and makes writing happen.
Of course, the same issues apply to things other than music. Some people work best when they’ve got nice big chunks of uninterrupted time. Others do best fitting their writing around everything else and getting a few words here and a few there. The goal is two-fold: work out what actively blocks your ability to write and avoid that, and work out what helps and try to make that happen. If you can only do one of those at a time, start with finding your blockers and working out how to avoid them.
This is why I have several playlists of writing music. They’re eclectic as hell, but they’re entirely music that’s good to write to. If it ain’t in the playlist and I’m writing at home, it’s not going to be played.
For me another blocker is conversation – so even if I haven’t got music going, I’ll put on the headphones as a “do not disturb” signal.
Of course, my biggest issue when I’m not squeezing writing in around other things (preferably when I think I shouldn’t be writing – damned subconscious!), is getting distracted. I’ll go to look something up and four hours later I haven’t added a single word. One day I’ll get to rehabbing the low-distraction Linux box and run it as the writing machine again. Everything is set up except that it needs to have the drive scanned, cleaned and the operating system loaded clean (not the biggest issue), and that it needs to be vacuumed out because the cat fluff is making it overheat whenever I start it up (this is the big issue – it means I have to pull the box out from under the desk, take the cover off, find the right tool for the vacuum and clean things out… then because the rest of under the desk is such a cat fluff repository, vacuum that… And so it goes. Yeah I’m lazy. And I procrastinate. Besides, most of the writing that’s happening at the moment happens in odd moments when I’m at work, on paper, in longhand. I’m just transcribing which is brainless enough that I don’t really need the focus.
Anyway. Odd Kate-rambles aside, identifying things that get in the way of your writing and either removing them or routing around them matters. I can testify that the little blocks can very easily turn into mighty “thou shalt not write” chains if you don’t.