TMM: Writing Habits

Writing is a profound and elemental aspect of life. A form of communication, a method by which man tries to feel less lonely. Even though it may appear to be a simple gesture, deeply rooted in our culture and tradition, writing is sometimes subject to odd habits and superstitions.

Some writers believe that inspiration cannot be forced or summoned at will and this creates a sense of fragility around the process itself. There are others who try to force it, and so they sit at their desk and try to write a certain number of words each day. Much like Graham Green, who supposedly used to write 500 words every day.

I don’ like having a word count — something I can’t really control. Sometimes words come out easily, sometimes it’s a struggle. I can’t control the outcome in terms of quantity, but I can write every day, or at least do a bit of editing.

Back when I was very young, I used to write in the moments of extreme inspiration, when my fingers were fueled by a frantic feeling of freedom and everything I wrote seemed to achieve a sort of elusive grandeur.

A man is a fool not to put everything he has, at any given moment, into what he is creating. You’re there now doing the thing on paper. You’re not killing the goose, you’re just producing an egg. So I don’t worry about inspiration, or anything like that. It’s a matter of just sitting down and working. I have never had the problem of a writing block. I’ve heard about it. I’ve felt reluctant to write on some days, for whole weeks, or sometimes even longer. I’d much rather go fishing, for example, or go sharpen pencils, or go swimming, or what not. But, later, coming back and reading what I have produced, I am unable to detect the difference between what came easily and when I had to sit down and say, “Well, now it’s writing time and now I’ll write.” There’s no difference on paper between the two.Frank Herbert

Some writers can write at least a few words every day, like Graham Green or Stephen King, while others can’t.

But most writers have their favorite time of day, when if feels that a number of factors are set up in such a way that they can easily indulge in their favorite habit. I write mostly at night. Some write during the day, or when it’s raining.

I like to write during the night because it’s more quiet outside, and it’s far easier to create a wall between me and the rest of the world. Because out of all art forms, writing requires solitude most of all. This isn’t a spectator art; you can’t sit at a desk and write with your back against a cheering crowd.

G.G. Marquez can’t write unless there’s a yellow rose in his room, and there has to be no other books in the room except for a few encyclopedias. Some writers can’t write unless the sunlight’s passing through the window at a certain angle, or unless they’re smoking their favorite blend of tobacco, or are seated at their favorite desk. Some writers require such a precise set of elements to work together that them writing becomes a sort of miracle.

And then there’s Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who wrote in his head, replaying sentences over and over again and adding new ones every day until he had an entire novel safely locked inside the drawers of his brain. Fantastic, considering that he was doing all this while being a prisoner in a Soviet Gulag.

Some are fast writers, some are slow, some write during the day, and some write only at night. Some write when they feel inspired, when they can’t hold the words inside their heads, some try to write every day, regardless of their mood.

To be honest,  I kind of envy those writers who are able to write in cafes and such. I need to be alone when I write. Heck, I need to be alone when I read. There’s something about silence and solitude… the same way there was nothing before God created the Universe and all that.

What are your writing habits?


11 thoughts on “TMM: Writing Habits

  1. I listen to music and radio until an idea comes to mind. Or I’ll take a walk around New York. The energy of the city inspires me to write. I even at times have conversations with myself. Putting myself in crazy scenarios for inspiration.

  2. This is such an interesting topic. I believe that all of us may have our own habits, inspirations, and routines. For some, the idea of forcefully pushing themselves perhaps everyday, in order to bring out something which may possibly reside inside them does in fact work. For myself, I write when it hits me, not necessarily the inspiration for a topic, but more so the feeling. There’s a feeling that may sometimes be the cause of inspiration or influence, sometimes a feeling of the “want” in itself. The “want” to write which then forms a topic.

    Where the majority of my work is based around life experiences, poetry (primarily love & erotica), as well as cultural topics and people, a great deal of my influences can be bought forward from those around me (London). Whether its midnight on the sofa, sitting in the car, or visiting friends/family, I make sure to have the laptop with me or the phone at the least, as to make sure i can make notes of what ever may come to me.

    I don’t think I have habits, more like instant bursts of unknown durations.

    That being said, whether you have habits or not I strongly believe that inspiration is important, and if it doesn’t come to you, you better go find it.

  3. I agree. There’s no point in sitting at your desk, waiting for inspiration to come to you. It seldom happens. Can make a career out of it, for sure. You just got to type the damn words and see what happens. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not.

  4. This is such a nice post and an interesting one.
    I’m more of a morning person so I write every morning and I also get major inspiration when I’m traveling. Overall, writing is a habit I truly enjoy, it gives me purpose!!

  5. I too appreciate solitude and late nights/early mornings. I like to look out the window at the horses. Mine never seem to suffer from all the ills and trials people do. When they have a problem they just work it out. I like to write on moonlight nights too, as I go out several times a night to smoke. Sitting on the front porch rocker on a moonlight night brings me some of my best ideas.

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