Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Writer's Life Tag

Time to make a dent in my pile of accumulated tags! Way back in spring, fellow bookdragon Christine Smith tagged me for the Writer's Life Tag. It sounded like fun, since who among the writing community doesn't like chatting about each other's methods and habits? Yet despite my enthusiasm, I somehow forgot about it, and went on my merry way for half a year. #oops

But here I am, digging it out at last! Pull up a chair, honorable questers, grab a cup of tea (or coffee, or juice, or Viking-worthy ale if that's your thing), and let's talk.

picture & graphic belong to Christine Smith

Write-fuel: What do you eat/drink while writing?

I'm don't usually munch and write at the same time, because crumbs in my keyboard = blegh. But I often have water nearby, or sometimes tea. My go-to flavor is vanilla chai. If I'm really in the zone, I sometimes forget to drink, though.

Write-sounds: What do you listen to while writing?

Recently, I haven't been listening to anything besides whatever background noise is going on. It's been a while since I was holed up in my room in front of my laptop--these days I write wherever my family is (usually I'm curled up on the couch or parked at the dining room table) or during breaks in college. But when I do listen to music, it's movie soundtracks or instrumental albums. Some favorites are the Narnia soundtracks, the Divergent soundtrack, Epic Music I and Epic Music II by indie composer Jonathan Maiocco, and music by Two Steps from Hell.

Write-vice: What’s your most debilitating distraction?

Emails, blogging, Goodreads . . . let's just say the internet in general! There are always little things to check or take care of instead of writing those words, and they can either break my momentum or keep me from starting to write at all.

Write-horror: What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you while writing?

I know plenty of writers have horror stories about losing their work and whatnot, but that's only happened to me once, and it was only a page or two. So I'd have to say the worst thing would be the times in high school when I got so wrapped up in my story that I lost track of time and neglected to put supper in the oven or change a load of laundry. My family has had to change supper plans at least a few times on account of me!

Write-joy: What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you while writing, or how do you celebrate small victories?

Every time I get caught up in a story, in a stream of words and images and emotions--when I'm so focused, the outside world barely exists--it's euphoria. I will slog through pages of uninspired words for a moment like that.

It's also very encouraging to receive feedback from beta readers or blog commenters, people who have read something I've written and care enough to share their reactions. It's the best feeling to know that they've been made to think, to feel, to see things in a new light, or to draw closer to Jesus . . . through a story I penned. It blows my mind every time, and I have Him to thank.

Write-crew: Who do you communicate with or not communicate with while writing?

When I'm actually, physically writing . . . I speak to no one, if I can help it. Human beings are distracting. But outside of writing sessions, I talk with a number of friends online and "in real life" (I don't like that term because it implies that my online friends aren't real as well, but I'm too lazy at the moment to come up with a better name for it).

"In real life," my closest friends aren't even writers, but they love me enough that they're fascinated by my authorial rambles and enthusiastically support these dreams of mine. I'm also blessed with a few friends who do write, and they're fun to bounce ideas around with.

Online, my main writing buddies are most often these lovely gals: Christine Smith, Deborah O'Carroll, and Mary Horton. Not to mention my broader network of bloggers and commenters who are always up for a writing-related chat!

Write-secret: What’s your writing secret to success or hidden flaw?

Let's talk about both, because while I certainly don't possess the key to conquering the writing universe, I have learned a few things along my journey thus far. And contrary to the brave face I may wear online, I am flawed. (I try to be genuine, but it's easy to highlight the good stuff and filter out the bad.)

Secret to success: keep at it. Yes, there are times to drop a manuscript entirely or take a break from it, but I see so many young writers flitting from one story to another with the attention-span of a butterfly. They're missing out on what can be learned from actually finishing a story, typing The End, bringing character arcs to completion, and tying up a plot. And if you never reach the end, you'll never edit. If there are things to be learned from completing a book, then there's ten times more to be gleaned from navigating the editing process!

Hidden flaw(s): I'm a relatively slow writer (though I'm not sure if that's 100% true or if I would actually be faster than I think if I could devote full-time hours to writing). I often find research to be a drag and may procrastinate in getting to it. I struggle with self-doubt--sometimes while pushing through a messy first draft, and sometimes while staring at the fifth-and-still-vastly-imperfect draft and hoping that if I stare hard enough, it will fix itself. I'm still finding the balance between beautiful prose/immersive description and action/dynamic plot. Perfectionism gets in my way. But I'm working on all these things, slowly but surely!

Write-spiration: What always makes you productive?

Goals, just like Christine said for herself. A plan of action, self-imposed deadlines, the satisfaction of seeing progress being made. I'm always motivating myself, not necessarily with rewards, because the accomplishment is often enough for my task-driven personality. If I don't set goals for myself, I don't get anywhere and have little drive to keep writing when it gets tough.

Write-peeve: What’s one thing writers do (or you do) that’s annoying?

I am as guilty of this as anyone else out there: talking about writing more than actually writing. Whether it's reading yet another blog post on the craft, or emailing a writing buddy, or coming up with a blog post about writerly issues--those are all good, helpful things, but they can take over the place of real writing. And the best way to become a better writer is to simply write.

There's a place for talking, but if that's all you do...

And now I tag . . .

And you, should you so desire! If you do the tag, leave me the link in the comments! Happy writing to you all, and especially those of you participating in NaNoWriMo.


  1. OH. It's this tag! I loved this tag. I'm so happy you're doing it! (But I understand getting behind on tags. I don't even want to think about all the things I've been tagged for that I haven't done. o.o)

    OUR WRITING LIVES ARE SO SIMILAR. I was just nodding along to so much of this.

    Epic music is a must while writing. *nods* I have to say, I so admire your ability to write with people around! I have to be completely alone with my music going to even hope to get the words in. I wish I didn't have to be such a hermit while writing!

    Oh man, the distraction of the internet... I have to set rules for myself sometimes. Like I can't got check something on the internet until I've gotten in a certain amount of words. But I don't always hold myself accountable. *cough, cough*

    Is it wrong of me to think it's cute you forgot supper and laundry because of writing? XD I just think it's so great how you can disappear into your story so deeply. And speaking of which, you put it perfectly in the Write Joy section.
    "Every time I get caught up in a story, in a stream of words and images and emotions--when I'm so focused, the outside world barely exists--it's euphoria. I will slog through pages of uninspired words for a moment like that."
    THIS. SO MUCH YES. It's amazing. Even if life does get forgotten...

    I love being part of your writing crew!!! <333 (And that gif is perfection. I'm loving all the OUAT gifs!)
    I don't like that term "in real life" either. I totally get you with that! I've been trying to train myself to say "in person" instead, but sometimes I forget.

    Your "secret success" advice is perfection! When I was young I did just go from one project to the next or just...sloooowly work on the same story for YEARS and never finish. It was once I did my first NaNo and realized I COULD finish a story, that my writing took off. It's FINISHING all my first drafts that has really helped me grow.

    And perfectionism gets in the way of my writing, too! So much self doubt... But, girl! It seems to me like you fly through those words! And the amount of talent you have. o.o Your writing just blows me away! I know self doubt is just a part of writing but...but...YOU'RE JUST SO TALENTED. You should never doubt your ability!

    So much yes to goals! Goals are LIFE.

    I so loved reading this and getting a closer look into your writing life! It was too fun! :D

    1. It was so fun! Thanks again for tagging me! Honestly, I'll take any excuse to chat about writing habits. XD (Heheh, no worries. I've a bit of a stack waiting myself.)

      I remember nodding along to your post as well! ^_^

      Hermitage is probably my preferred writing state too, but that's not always realistic for me, so... I guess I've adapted. *shrugs* I remember learning to tune out the noisy highschoolers on the bus back in first and second grade (when I was still going to private school)--they were always noisy and, to my sophisticated young mind, annoying. XD But I buried my nose in a book and eventually was able to ignore them. Nowadays that doesn't ALWAYS work for me, but I try, anyway. But I completely understand you needing to be alone with the music to get any writing done!

      YES. RULES ARE HELPFUL LITTLE THINGS. I try to do that sometimes too, but...*cough* Yeah. It doesn't always work. >.>

      Lolzy, I actually love that you think that's cute! Makes me feel like some sort of book character who's a cutesy writer. XD
      Yes, those moments are AMAZING, despite the way they can crowd out practical, responsible thoughts like sticking the chicken in the oven at four o'clock. ;)

      I love you BEING part of my crew! <333 (*grins sappily at all the OUAT*)
      In person! That's way better, thank you! In person... *mutters to self* I need to remember that.

      Oh, I flitted around plenty when I was starting out too. Heh, I totally get you on the "YEARS" part as well. I love how NaNo taught you that you really could finish a story. You've grown so incredibly much, and I can't wait to see where your journey will lead!

      Oh yes, those things plague most of us creatives, I'd imagine. Thank you for all of that encouragement! It helps to see the outside perspective. You know how it goes--we're all our own worst critics a lot of the time. *many hugs*

      I agree!

      Thanks, Christine! Your comment has me smiling yet again! ^_^

  2. I love reading people's answers to this tag.

    That's so awesome that you have "in real life" writing friends! (yeah, I agree with you about the "in real life" thing :P) I think I may have recently made a friend who is also a writer and I'm so excited about it! I never get to talk face-to-face about writing because when I talk non-writers about writing they smile and nod and slowly walk away/change the subject. XD

    The internet is always a distraction. :P

    Great post!

    1. Me too! I'm a nosy little writer, honestly. I always enjoy finding out how others do things. XD

      It's great having them! Having fellow bookworms that you know in person is a good thing too, since reading is so close to writing. (Christine's substitute phrase, "in person," is so much better, don't you think?)
      Oh, sweet! That IS exciting! It's fun having someone you can talk to face-to-face about your latest writings. Hahaaaa, true! Non-writers don't always know quite what to do with us.

      Yup. :P

      Thank you, Ashley! Happy writing!

  3. That 'Write-joy' section is especially lovely! 'It's the best feeling to know that they've been made to think, to feel, to see things in a new light, or to draw closer to Jesus . . . through a story I penned.' my goals, right there!

    Thank you for the tag, I look forward to doing it!

    1. Thanks, Blue! Those are my goals too. It's encouraging to remember them when the writing life gets tough. :)

      You're most welcome, and I look forward to seeing your answers!

  4. I am really bad at the whole "flitting around" to different projects thing. I don't have a single finished story longer than 3,000 words, though I have several stories with more than 3,000 words written. I have, however, gotten a good amount of experience writing endings and editing just because I've written so many small pieces. I have my own opinions about "the balance between beautiful prose/immersive description and action/dynamic plot," but I won't go into that too far. I can agree that blog comment feedback is awesome. (As an added note, I'd like to mention that I do know how to use paragraphs, I just don't typically break up my comments on Blogger.)

    1. You can definitely get some good experience by finishing short stories too. I think every format of story offers more wisdom to the writer, whether it's a poem, short story, novella, novel, or full-on series. There are new things to learn with them all!

      That might be a good topic for you to go into on your blog, perhaps?

      (No worries--comments are generally short enough to not need paragraphs. I'm definitely not paragraph policing around here!)

  5. You seem like a really dedicated writer, I will use any excuse to stop writing sometimes. :D
    Love all the ONCE gifs.

    1. Ha, not always! And sometimes it goes the other way, and I get bogged down by my self-imposed goals/deadlines/task driven-ness. :P

      They were fun to find! Love OUAT. ^_^

  6. Thanks for the tag, Tracey!!
    I gotta say, if you're a slow writer, I'm beyond sloth-levels of slowness! Besides, slower writing just means you're putting more thought and care into each word. :P
    I find that I can't eat/drink when I'm writing, either, because food+laptop=mess and also because I find that if I'm actually in the writing zone I forget about my tea or whatever and then I have to drink it cold (or walk all the way over to the microwave to re-heat it, which is WAY too much work).
    Hope you have a great day and that you have fun writing today!

    1. Hey, you're welcome! (And I saw that you put it up already. I'll be making my way over to comment.)

      You're also in a super busy stage of life, though! Uni doesn't leave a lot of extra time for writing. I'm sure homework sucks up a lot of desire to deal with words, anyways. :P

      So it's not just me! Don't like the mess either, and I will either forget about the food or tea because I'm so wrapped up in writing, or I'll be nibbling/sipping and only half engaged with writing. XD (Ugh, yes, that distant microwave. FAR too much work!)

      Thanks, and right back atcha! I did actually have a satisfying hour of writing this afternoon. :)

  7. So glad I'm not the only one who forgets things like laundry and food when I'm in the thick of it! It can be so hard to explain, and my attempts often make things worse, because really, explaining that someone's life is in the balance when he might not be real in the first place is not an acceptable excuse for leaving the laundry to airdry (or mould as is more likely) in the dryer for three hours.

    One soundtrack I use quite a bit when writing is the music for How To Train Your Dragon. Have you listened to that one? It's good.

    1. I'm not the only singleminded writer, hooray! Haha, that's right: those characters are living and dying and fighting and bleeding their poor hearts out. Who has time to think about laundry? XD

      HTTYD is SUCH a great soundtrack! I just bought it this last summer, though I haven't used it for writing all that much yet. Like I said, there's been less music lately. But thank you for reminding me I own it and that it makes for good writing tunes. :)

  8. You know about Jon Maiocco?! Whoa! He actually lives not far from my house. We've met a couple times. XD I get overwhelmed with research often and I'm not sure where the stopping point is or what's too little. Gah! Good to know more about your writerly self!

    1. Ohhh, now I remember you mentioning long ago that you know him. I'd forgotten until now. That's so cool!

      YES, that's my problem too. Obviously I need to know what I'm talking about, but HOW much do I need to know? I like finding actual experts in whatever field I'm researching, but that's hard.

      Thanks! Have you ever done this tag? Feel free to snatch it if you haven't yet/want to do it.

  9. Loved reading this :) Your intro made me laugh, a) because THAT'S WHAT I DO WITH TAGS TOO (as we know) and b) because of Viking-worthy ale. I might just ;)

    I'm amazed you write in the same room as your family. I always hole up in my room because, ew, people?? I generally have The Fear of them reading over my shoulder. Which obviously they WON'T because my handwriting is almost illegible?? And I /think/ I'd be able to tell if they were up close enough actually to try and ponder it out. But still. Out of over 200k words of the TCATT books ... they'd still probs manage to read, I dunno, a description of Jem's abs. (((this happened yesterday, after over 200k I think it's forgivable. Sorry not sorry.))) XD

    And yes! KEEP AT IT KEEP AT IT KEEP AT IT! It will not get better unless you make it better. You won't make it better unless you write. SO WRITE. Best advice there is, basically!

    1. That's what probably most of us do with tags, I'd wager. And help yourself to that ale; I'd rather not get rid of it on my own. XD

      Haha, they're pretty good at not looking over my shoulder too much. (I can see that being a problem when you're waxing eloquent about dear Jem! XDDD) But I can't write very productively in the same room as a sibling playing a videogame--the noise combined with the screen is too much of a distraction. Wait--so you draft your novels by hand?! (I think I knew that? But I'm still amazed?)


    2. Forgot to mention that your strings of comments (because there's typically more than one--which is what I tend to do with your blog as well, lol) always make me smile! :)