What helps you write?

I’d like to use this morning’s article to ask you, fellow writers and readers, to share the tips, techniques and aids that help you write.  For example, I know many of us (Sarah, Kate, Dorothy and I) have feline assistants, as Breaking Cat News so aptly portrayed earlier this week (click the image below to be taken to a full-size version at the comic’s Web site).

Breaking Cat News 2020-04-21

I’ve set up my work area in what was once a small back porch of the house, which a previous owner enclosed (very badly – we did a better job when we moved in.)  Storage cupboards line one wall, and my desk and computer are against another.  It works for me.  Others have larger office spaces, some lined with bookshelves.  What about you?

As for work habits, do you write at set times, or as and when you can make time in your busy schedule?  I have a very weird sleep pattern, thanks to pain from a back and nerve injury almost two decades ago.  I can’t usually sleep more than a few hours at a time without pain waking me, so I do a lot of writing in the small hours of the morning.  I don’t recommend it, but if that’s what you’ve got, use it!  How about you?

Let’s help each other work from home by telling each other how we do it.


11 thoughts on “What helps you write?

  1. Being an empty-nester I have a room to myself. No one is allowed to clean it or organize it but me. Because I know which pile of paper has the hand-drawn chart of whatever in it. My most commonly used references are within arm’s reach, the decor runs to the eccentric for the pictures, and toys that pose for occasional covers. Or might, someday.

    The most useful thing (except the desk and computer) is the white board to my right, where I keep track of where in the writing/editing/publishing strings various stories are, and for the series books, the internal dates, so I can see at a glance how long it’s been since characters last met, how old they are and what they’re doing now. (As in, oh, it’s been three years since Twit’s been encountered? So she must have graduated by now, and she’s not a tall skinny freshman any more, sort of thing.)

    It’s a nice gentle reminder that I need to finish this one, and start thinking about covers for that one and so forth.

  2. I have a bedroom converted to home office. 0800-1200 is dedicated to Day Job work, Sunday -Friday. Noon to five is author work. Most of the material in the office is Day Job reference material, but the Author Job books and current notes are on the abandoned cat platform beside my desk. (The cat fell off of it once and won’t use it anymore, so it makes a good book stand.)

  3. For the writer who is dependent on his writing income: what helps best is the awareness of a low bank balance.

    For the writer who isn’t dependent on his writing income: the best propulsion is an actual NEED — an internal compulsion that cannot be squelched — to write the story on one’s mind. Alfred Bester once spoke about this. Robert A. Heinlein mentioned this compulsion in one of the pieces in “Expanded Universe.” If memory serves, he said that when he tried to resist it, it nearly killed him.

    Most other incentives and supports are less powerful than the two above. However, privacy is salutary, as is a sense of relaxed good health and possession of adequate energy.

    As for the disincentives and distractions, one looms above all the rest, for me at least: cats that need their bellies rubbed. I can resist just about any other influence, with one exception: at the end of each working day, when the Appointed Hour has arrived and my wife presents me with an uncorked bottle and a wine glass as she joyfully exclaims, “Snort Time!”

  4. I’ve had the good fortune to be in first editing and then publishing and marketing modes for the past few weeks, because the thought of drafting has been difficult. All that is done now, and I’ll be seeing breakfast words tomorrow on a short story I’ve finally figured out how to finish.

    Breakfast words are my own trick. I have to open the file and write ten words (or more), before I check email, the weather, the news, Facebook, anything. That puts my head in the story and makes me feel a quick sense of accomplishment, so when I sit down after breakfast I’m mentally ready. And it feels silly to think I couldn’t do ten measly words, so I have to. Works for me.

      1. Just wanted to get back to you and say, I’m writing again!

        I woke up last night with an idea for a short story, and have finished about 1/4 of it and mapped out the rest.

        It feels so GOOD! And, it wouldn’t have happened without the encouragement of that Breakfast Words idea.

    1. I’m stealing this. Breakfast words. What an interesting phrase, and one that I think I could do regularly.

  5. switching between stories sometimes.

    It can let a story percolate.

    On the other hand, it can end up with a lot of half-finished stories.

  6. I have three kids which means writing time is between 4am and 7am in the mornings. It’s the only time I have that never gets interrupted.

    I have moved out of my office into a corner in the living room. My boy now has a room of his own, albeit with loads of bookcases.

  7. I need a certain kind and lack of distraction.

    Kind-music (preferably soundtracks or instrumental, with anime as well), reference material, a place to actually sit and work.
    Lack-TV (especially if it’s CNN or daytime talk shows, which Mom and Dad watch without hesitation), human interactions, any location that requires me to deal with idiots and/or bad posture.

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