Open Floor

Okay, so I’ll admit that today kind of caught me off guard, hence the late post.

I’ve been staying away from writing tips lately (mainly because most people give suggestions that would turn you into an Impressionist and teach you something while I would stare at the blank wall and try not to make my forehead bleed due to repeated bashings) and talking about things that are outside the publishing norm (usually). This presents me with a few problems, though. One of them is that my fellow MGC authors have nothing to follow up on when I post. Second is when I run of of things to talk about, like I have today.

I’m going to open it up by asking this: what works for you? Laptop? Desktop? Classical music? Heavy metal (only when I’m writing fight scenes)? Secluded or in a crowded room? How do you write?

48 thoughts on “Open Floor

      1. I would have thought a laptop would be too smooth to write on, not too rough.

        It’s no good when the ink won’t stay on the surface.

  1. Pencil and notebook (not even a pen, and no eraser). Comfy chair. No TV. Cats okay, Dragonettes discouraged.

      1. Mine, too.

        Actually, my answer is whenever I can get the foot to connect with the rear end. With whatever is available. Once, with a piece of sidewalk chalk on the back porch… (Although that was code, not English.)

      1. First, curse the inability to post an image. I’m sure there’s a way, it’s temporarily left my brain.

        Write or Die (available at is a cross-platform and web-available application that.. encourages wordcount. That is, if you slow down or stop, the screen may start to turn red.

        Then it may make loud noises at you. Annoying loud noises.

        And it may show you pictures of spiders crawling all over your text. Or grumpy cat. Etc.

        Most of my NaNoWriMo wins can be directly attributed to the judicious and disciplined application of Write or Die.

        1. I prefer Read or Die (TV or OVA), myself. Of course, it is too distracting to watch that and write at the same time.

        2. Wow. I don’t know if that’s the greatest idea ever or absolutely horrific. But I may need to buy it before November comes around.

  2. I’m not picky. I’ve written on typewriters; on desktops; on laptops; in longhand in composition books at lunch, football games, and waiting rooms; and in a pocket notebook when the notion struck. I’ve written in silence and noise; to music from country to gospel to rock to show tunes to classical; I’ve picked up a recorder and played some tunes while working through ideas; I’ve sang, whistled, and hummed songs from Ave Maria to Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain to Precious Lord to I’m Looking Over My Dead Dog Rover. I’m not picky at all.

    Except for one thing: I don’t like interruptions. Several interruptions in a row and I set by what I’m writing aside. That includes when the cat decides I’ve been at it too long and sits in front of the keyboard and looks at me. Which is why I no longer write late at night.

    1. Your cat, too, tells you when it’s time to go to bed? I’m so glad mine isn’t the only one.

      1. I’ll go ahead and tell this:

        Our cat was abandoned at about a week old. It was found by neighborhood kids who brought it to us. We raised it with kitten formula dispensed first from a dropper, then a small bottle. What cat traits it knows is instinct. Other than that …

        Well, you know the spray bottle thing? We used it to try and teach it not to do things like play with electric cords. Except it got the idea that it’s something you do when displeased with someone. And it can manage a bottle.

        I don’t have to spell it out, right? It can and has applied its version. It has also learned that if it strokes it’s tail against our legs just right, the sensation is indistinguishable. That’s the warning. Like our use of the bottle, it uses it as a last resort.

    2. “I don’t like interruptions. Several interruptions in a row and I set by what I’m writing aside.”

      I have small children. Interruptions are my life. (It’s also why there’s a conspicuous lack of writing of recent years. Writing is far from my primary creative outlet, so it gets back-burnered easily.)

  3. I’ve started using Scrivener, and it seems to be going well. I’ve used OpenOffice, tried Sigil but didn’t like it. I usually have music, themed to match the work in progress, but it has to be voiceless 😉 I use a lot of movie soundtracks and Epic Action & Adventure for that reason. My big problem is cat management. If I use a desktop, she wants to be there and then complains because there is no soft cushy place for her to sit (lap is covered by keyboard tray). If I’m using a laptop, again, issues of cat placement and keyboard use. What usually happens is she complains for 20 minutes and then goes off somewhere softer to nap.

  4. Alternating laptop and pen and paper, and shut up and keep the hell away from me I’m writing!!!

  5. I have an ‘office’ where I write. I started it first as a tax write-off, but it turned out to be an excellent work habit. I know when I’m there, I’m there to work and nothing else (I only work on THAT machine in that room). It helps me focus a lot.
    I tend to listen to electronic/house/or dance music, mainly because of the lack of lyrics, so I don’t get distracted. I lively tempo does help with keeping things moving.

  6. For gruff and deedle, any ordinary computer and relatively simple but complete editor — either WordPerfect 5.1 DOS or RoughDraft. And industrial music as wobbly to fill up the cracks.

  7. I usually write at my desk, but for cold weather, I haul out the folding card table and the laptop and writing in the living room with a fire in the fireplace. Very productive, partly because my Wifi is weak and doesn’t work out there.

    No music. It catches my attention, almost worse than the internet.

    Last year, my husband injured his hand, so I chauffeured him to and from work, to doctors appointments, physical therapy . . . I hate working on the laptop when there’s no place to put it. Being fat, I have insufficient lap for the purpose. But necessity takes over when you’ve got multiple hours of waiting.Three days a week. I blew through NaNo, last year, and hope to never repeat the situation.

  8. Pen, paper, no TV, only certain songs that never seem to be the same from day to day. Limited access to internet, except when research is needed.

  9. Moleskein notebook for notes or quick poetry scribbles. iPad with keyboard, and mandatory quiet for turning those notes into something more. I love the iPad because of how portable it is. I can write anywhere easily.

    I find music is usually too distracting. The ‘net is a terrible distraction, but often useful for research if I can avoid the rabbit-hole that is “oh, that looks interesting”.

  10. I mentioned yesterday that some on the other side think we hate Terry Pratchett, or should. Here’s a brand-new example from Vile 770:

    “Have Paulk et al read past The Light Fantastic? It’s hard to imagine them missing all the SJW (for their definition of SJW) messaging starting with Equal Rites. There’s feminism, fat acceptance, criticism of organized religion and nationalism, feminism, and definitely feminism, amongst all sorts of philosophical deep thought-type issues (expressed simply, I’ll admit). I’m not quite half-way through the series and those “messages” immediately came to (my always muddled) mind.

    I think* when Puppies talk about workmanlike prose, they mean clear and easy to read, which Terry’s writing was, despite seeming pretty literary to me (see… uh, someone’s whose handle I forget… example above, from Small Gods IIRC). But I also suspect when they use the term literary, Puppies mean difficult to read and un-fun, which sure is sometimes the case, but c’mon”

    They don’t understand us.

    1. If you’re over-sensitized to ‘message’ and always look for it, it will leap out at you. If you don’t mind/can ignore message as long as it doesn’t overwhelm the plot & flow, you can enjoy works with quite a bit of message in it and not call it ‘message fiction’.
      Don’t think they understand the difference.

    2. The Sea and Little Fishes (in the anthology Legends)

      Granny Weatherwax completely disembowels the entire PC/SJW/participation-medal enterprise by doing absolutely nothing. Spectacular.

  11. 1.) Treadmill desk, set to 1.5 mph, youtube in background set to epic music channel.

    2.) laptop unplugged from keyboard and power, moved to curl up on couch, playing trance / industrial / EBM. Cat on legs, or on back of couch.

    3.) desktop setup, quiet or movie soundtracks.

    4.) yellow lined notepad and pen on kitchen table, while doing dishes / mopping / folding laundry, stopping to write down the next bit of plot outline as it slowly works its way out.

  12. Laptop. I only play music to drown out any TV in the evening.
    As a deadline junkie, I like to write in the cafeteria at work during lunch. That gives me 30 minutes to write 500 words. In the evening after dinner, I have about an hour before my husband starts watching our shows without me. It’s almost as good as Write or Die. Btw, Zachary, when I used that a number of years ago, it would delete your words if you stopped too long. Got to the point I only had to threaten to go there to get the brain in motion.

  13. Laptop, with a Das Keyboard if I’m at my office and on the machine if I’m elsewhere. Music if possible, otherwise just quiet (like when guarding the door during a standardized test). Water available to drink. Reference books or notes available, preferably, but I can write, leave [fill in] notes and keep going if I’m away from the office. Longhand on a Circa pad from Levenger (yeah, I’m addicted) for notes and if a story is just insisting to get done when I don’t have a computer. Pilot micro-fine .05 mm black for pen.

  14. During the week I usually write in the library in town. Being surrounded with books helps put me in the mood. I listen to music, but never with English language lyrics, which I find too intrusive. That’s had its own benefits. I’ve discovered a taste for Fado and Algerian music 🙂

  15. Two laptops, not including the one connected to the internet. As close to total conclusion as I can get.

    I’m terribly ADD, and instead of fighting it, I work with it and around it. After 1000 words in the evening {during the week, goal is 2k words in the evening}. I’ll take a break and peek at MGC, Sarah’s, and Nocturnal Lives.

    Then more writing.

  16. My writing tools?

    Ramcharged quadcore tower running Win7. Word 2007 for writing; InDesign CS for print layout; Jutoh for ebook layout. Progress logs are in Excel 2007. Keyboard is an OmniKey Ultra dating back to 1993. I only write using OmniKey buckling-spring keyboards, of which I have many. They’re expensive, but they can actually be repaired. With an OmniKey, I can do 100+ WPM. Sometimes more.

    I write in my downstairs office, alone and in silence except for the whisper of the cooling fans. When I drive (alone) I crank the music up in the Durango and brainstorm, but when I write, the only noise is the racket of my fingers making progress.

    I had a local custom furniture shop make me a maple wood trestle-base computer table with room for the quadcore, a big monitor, and a CP1518 Color Laserjet. The surface of the table is precisely 26″ off the floor, by design. I have a leather-upholstered LifeForce chair with more levers and buttons than a 747. To either side of the table are bookshelves full of all my reference works, copies of my own books, and whatever tech books are relevant to my current project.

    Yes, it all sounds pretty anal. On the other hand, everything in the room was paid for by writing. I do what works. And boy, does it work!

  17. I currently write on a laptop, usually in a coffee shop in the mornings, sometimes in an establishment with somewhat more (ahem) interesting liquid offerings in the afternoon. I’m fine with most background noise, but if someone is sitting too close to me and carrying on a conversation that I can hear in detail, I’ll put on headphones and listen to jazz or classical (or sometimes classic rock) to drown out the annoying words. (I like listening to Broadway music, but not to write to: again, too many words.) That’s just my current setup: I wrote one novel (2009’s MARSEGURO, published by DAW) entirely on my Windows Mobile cellphone, using a little fold-up Bluetooth keyboard.

  18. My most productive period was on a black cast iron Underwood in my pretentious young writer days. LOT of distractions on a computer.

    Musically, I would have a stack of LPs on the turntable, everything from Hawkwind to Khatachaturian to movie soundtracks. They seemed to short-circuit my brain, getting it out of the way of my fingers.

  19. I can’t write in a crowd. I know, I’ve tried writing with my kids running around me. I prefer my laptop to my desktop. Not sure why, just an immediacy I don’t feel with my desktop. As for music, no lyrics when I write, but definitely music in the background. I’ve discovered soundtracks for epic fantasy or historical movies do rather well, especially when you’re writing a sad scene, followed by an angry one, followed by all-out violent carnage.

Comments are closed.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: