Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Preparing to Write

Writing is a process that's different for every author. Some people write best during the early morning hours, others in the middle of the night. Some writers use a desk and their laptop, where others dictate their story onto a recorder while they're commuting to their day job. Everyone's preparation--what they do, what they need in order to write--is an individual as a snowflake. It's fascinating! There's no right formula; there's only the method that produces results.

Below are the personal preparations of seven different authors: (Don't forget to scroll down for their links!)

What time of day do you write and why?

  • I know many authors (artists, comedians, etc.) say that you need to engage the process every day. I can't do it. I like to write on the weekends, beginning in the late morning, when I can go 5-6 hours uninterrupted. Trying to write at home at night when I am brain-dead from my daily slog doesn't work for me -- J Thomas Ganzer
  • With two small children it's usually a question of when I 'can' write! My preferred time is always to write in the mornings - for some reason this is when I have my best ideas... But I am learning to turn my hand to writing whenever I have the opportunity and I think that has to be my 'plan' in the short term -- Felicity Brandon
  • I pretty much write whenever I can. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I try to write. First thing in the morning, I try to write. Right before bed, I try to right. I wrote at least one full chapter of "Letting Go" during the middle of the day on my cell phone. It's not so much about a specific time as it's about having a certain level of inspiration and energy, and that can come at pretty much any moment -- Richard Bacula
  • At this phase in my life, my time to write is pretty much dictated to me. I have two young children and a wife, so once I get home from work, I start job #2--getting the kids fed and to sleep! So, my typical writing period is on my lunch breaks. I supplement that with occasional bursts of writing in the early morning or on weekend afternoons -- Eric Keys 
  • After recently going part time at my day job, I typically write from Fridays to Mondays. Lately I've been falling into the routine of connecting with friends on Goodreads in the mornings; I've been able to meet a lot of really great readers and other authors there as well as Facebook. I'm not much good on an empty stomach, so I usually eat some lunch while watching Jerry Springer-- then it's off to my laptop! -- Sarah Brenner
  • I write in the morning to the afternoon. I find I'm most productive in the morning. The longer the day goes, the more likely I am to become lazy. By the time evening comes around, I just want to relax -- Reed James
  • I tend to write in the morning or later at night. During the middle of the day I seem to have more distraction. If I hand write it's typically earlier and then I settle in with my Dragon in the evening and get things done from there -- BB Blaque
What space/atmosphere do you need to write?

  • Silly as it sounds, I can't write at home--too many distractions. So I go to Starbucks (cliche I know). I listen to my music (80's and early 90's) and bang away until I've nailed few chapters. Something about the energy of the place keeps me going. A library is too quiet. I need productive people around me to power through -- J Thomas Ganzer
  • I have a small study which I have always used to write - It's a lovely spot overlooking the garden and I adore it. Just recently I have moved my writing space to the over side of the house; there's more natural light there and I am liking the change... So we'll see what turns out to be the most productive once the children go back to school and I can ratchet up my writing agenda again! As for the atmosphere I write in, I absolutely have to write to music. I'm a rock chick at heart, but have also written some of my sordid work to the awesome compositions of Hans Zimmer! -- Felicity Brandon
  • I have an office in my house that I use to write. I keep it as quiet and as soundproof as possible. I don't like to be disturbed or distracted when I'm in the zone -- Richard Bacula
  • Since I do so much of my writing at work, I have had to adapt to the space rather than adapting the space to my temperament. But I do try to write when most of the team has gone to lunch, so it's fairly quiet. I rarely write to music, but when I do, I haven't noticed a pattern of the of music. It can range anywhere from traditional folk to death metal or punk -- Eric Keys
  • As passionate as I am about music, I've found that I work best in total silence and darkness, although sometimes I will light a candle to set a romantic or spooky mood -- Sarah Brenner

  • I write in my living room sitting on a comfy recliner with my laptop on my lap. For editing, I sit at a desk. I have music playing, generally instrumental from movie and video game soundtracks. I don't like being around people. They make me feel self-conscious, particularly if they're behind me. I just feel like they're looking at my screen -- Reed James
  • I can write almost anywhere. I have a peculiar process that encompasses hand writing, speaking things into my phone, and fleshing things out from there. My space could be in the middle of the yard in the country, listening to the sounds and absorbing the atmosphere. It can be in my bed, which is where most of the layers are assembled into what they'll eventually become. My bed is covered in warm colors with cats lazying around and dogs nearby. I have some floggers, cuffs and motorcycle helmets on the shelf along with my paperback books. The TV is usually on but the volume is turned down. I will listen to music if I need to kick myself into gear, otherwise I'll become lost in the abyss of youtube and accomplish next to nothing. I listen to music that is the soundtrack of whatever I'm writing. I write best when there is music pushing me along. I always write alone (save for the animals). I put a sign on the door to signal family members "The Masters M.C.-Church is in Session" so they know when I'm working-- BB Blaque
Do you have rituals of things you do before you write?
  • I whiteboard the story before I begin a book, add in little vignettes here and there. But if I just write with no direction as to how long the arch should be, I end up all over the place. So I map it out beforehand -- J Thomas Ganzer
  • I have no real rituals. All I need to do is clear any outstanding issues in my inbox and then I have a free head-space to write. -- Felicity Brandon
  • It's not really a ritual as much as a habit. I go to my computer because I spend a lot of time on it. I open up Scrivener, and whatever file I'm working on. Then I open up my web browser and I check Twitter, Goodreads, and so forth. I play with that stuff for a while, then I tell myself, "Okay, you bastard. You've fucked around long enough. Go write one word. Just one word." Then I get back to Scrivener and I write the one word. That's the hardest part for me, getting that first word out. Once it's out, the rest of the sentence tends to flow easily. Then the rest of the paragraph, and so forth. I always tell myself to write just one word because that's a nice, incredibly simple goal... But I've never stopped writing at just one word, even on my slowest days -- Richard Bacula 
  • Typically I go for a walk before I begin writing. I just let the stress fall away for a few minutes and think about what my characters are doing and why. Then I get back to my desk and let them do their thing -- Eric Keys
  • A lot of my preparation actually starts the day before. Every night, I like to sit outside and listen to music thinking about the scenes I plan on working on the next day. When I'm finally ready to get started, I like to make sure that all of my chores are done so my mind is free to wander. I also like to have plenty of candy at my desk and my e-cig handy for a few inspirational puffs -- Sarah Brenner
  • I start my morning with a long shower. I think about what I'm going to write today, putting the framework for scenes, conversations, action pieces, etc. This sort of prewriting helps me get into the flow easier. I also do this on walks -- Reed James

  • Definitely music, music and more music. Nothing is accomplished for me without it. Also, coffee is very important--I drink it by the pot while writing. My ritual usually comes after I've written. I read everything out loud and into my phone and then listen. I look for flow, redundant word use, continuity, and that dialogue remains true to the characters. I'll listen to everything new and then with the previous parts to make sure it goes well together. In my latest work this has been a lot of fun. The girl in Louisiana Cajan/southern and the guys are Brooklyn and California bikers--so there is a ton of color in the dialogue -- BB Blaque
What disrupts your preparation/concentration? 

  • Writer's block! And it is all mental, and all my fault. I faced a dilemma deciding whether a laptop, thrown into a lake, sinks or float. The internet was no help and I was paralyzed for two days trying to solve the goddamn laptop paradox. A smarter author told me to skip the problem if it is shutting me down. So I did. Character threw the laptop in a dumpster. Problem solved! -- J Thomas Ganzer
  • Is it too obvious to say that my children can do that? :) Beyond the obvious though, it's not having a clear mind to write with... If my head is clouded with any issues then I have to deal with those, and the first port of call for me to do that is the gym! After a decent work-out I can typically get back my creative muse with little delay -- Felicity Brandon
  • Any number of things can distract me, which is why I prefer to write in undisturbed isolation. Ideally I'd like to work full time, but the biggest distraction for me currently is that I have a day job. I've done my best writing in periods where I had a break from work, so I only had the one thing to worry about: working on my writing project. The best, most productive times of my life have been when my life consisted solely of writing, with periodic breaks for eating, sleeping, drinking, fucking, and other essential fuels to keep me going -- Richard Bacula 
  • People, blogs, Twitter; the usual stuff -- Eric Keys  
  • There are always plenty of distractions throughout the day, but the biggest has to be my little dog. She's almost 16 and needs constant attention. She's a happy distraction though; I love spending as much time with her as I can -- Sarah Brenner
  • I find my concentration is very easy to break when I first start writing before I've really gotten into the zone. By the time I've written a few hundred words, I'm a lot harder to distract, but if I just sat down and barely gotten into the first paragraph, a distraction can really throw me off -- Reed James

  • Life. I also have some ADHD and distractions online can really get in the way. This is when I tend to do more hand written parts. I can sit outside, unplugged, and handwrite to get going in the right direction with less chance of distraction -- BB Blaque
Find these authors online:

J Thomas Ganzer
Twitter: @J_Thomas_Ganzer

Richard Bacula
Twitter: @RichardBacula
Felicity Brandon


  1. Awesome! Love to hear from other authors, too.

  2. Loved this post so much!! Loved the similarities and differences between the authors. And loved that you got a couple authors I had never heard of before, because I definitely wasn't expecting that when I saw you were looking for contacts for this post.

    Great idea +Angora Shade ;)

  3. Loved this post so much!! Loved the similarities and differences between the authors. And loved that you got a couple authors I had never heard of before, because I definitely wasn't expecting that when I saw you were looking for contacts for this post.

    Great idea +Angora Shade ;)

  4. This was a great idea; thanks so much & great post - I really enjoyed reading about everyone's process!