Fiction writers, what do you do to help get the writing juices flowing?

#1

I’ve been getting into writing again, and I have found that I’m very particular about where and how I write.

I can’t get ANYTHING done at home. Too many distractions, and if I’m clacking on my mechanical keyboard too much, I start getting a headache.

I have to be in a public space not overflowing with people, with music that isn’t distracting, and with a space where my back is to a wall.

So, what do you all do to get your writing done? Techniques, meditation, music choices, etc?

Also, feel free to talk about what you’re writing! I’m working on a fantasy thing now, and I’m having a lot of fun with it. Thinking of names is a pain, but it’s also creative.

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#2

My biggest kickstart is freewriting; where you just sit with a notebook & pen and just write what comes through your head, whether or not it makes sense. Names of characters, what happened at work, what you want for lunch, the pen is just meant to be a faucet to let your thoughts flow out. It helps me filter out the flotsam and jetsam from the actual ideas I have. After I do that for 30-60 minutes, I usually have a good idea of where I wanna go with my writing, and then I switch to my laptop to write. (I swiped this from Tim Schafer in the Double Fine Adventure! documentary, and he said he was taught it by his middle school english teacher)

Another helpful thing is jumping around. Never be afraid to write out of order, especially if you have a good scene you want to write. It’s better to get it out and ride the momentum then be like “okay I have to save it I have to do these other scenes first.” Even if it makes some continuity hiccups you have to fix later, it’s always better to write something rather than be stuck.

Something I just started recently is writing as soon as I get up in the morning. I’m an early riser, and usually I take my time with like, making breakfast and then checking internet and such, but also I have bigtime motivation issues. But when I wake up and just sit on the couch with my laptop, I just see what I can do. It’s helped a lot! I may not be writing a lot, maybe like, a half page at most at a time, but it’s still a little progress as opposed to the zero I’d been making.

Currently I’m writing a wrestling themed ren’py game and I’m just chipping away at the outline I have. Like, just doing one section up to a decision point is slowly pushing myself forward.

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#3

For me, a big motivation is knowing that I will be sharing the work. Having a workshop group, telling a friend about an idea, etc. anything that makes me feel like I have now made a commitment to see a concept through to a certain point.

As to settings and the like… I am very particular in that I have set spaces in my house where I work and where I don’t. I need to establish for myself that I am in the “work area” and it is time to focus. I put on headphones for comfort but can’t concentrate really if I am listening to stuff. I tend to work at night or in the morning when my wife and child are asleep. I do not like working in public unless it is editing printed material.

I have been on a pronged break but am trying to get back into now. I tend to write very short stories somewhere between fantasy and weird fiction if we define those terms loosely. My plan right now is to try and write out two stories that have been rattling around in my head for a few years; one is a “ghost” story and one is more of a “Poe” story. I am always looking for new folks to share and work with (and edit a journal that I am interested in publishing new folks in).

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#4

Big second on enby-li’s first two paragraphs!

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#5

I am super routine-and-momentum dependent, which is a tendency I’ve tried to break at various points but have never really found a good substitute for. It really depends on what project I’m working on, but once I start something new, I need to build a routine around it—usually a specific playlist I’ll listen to while writing (what’s on it can be anything that’s not super lyrically intricate), a specific time of day (I usually write best later at night, somewhere between 9pm and 1am), and a specific place (I can write more or less anywhere without too many distractions, but once I start something somewhere, I have a hard time getting into a groove anywhere else).

If I’m writing something longer, which is what I usually prefer more even if it’s not always reasonable to do, I also need to be working consistently on it. Like having that daily routine built around adding even a little bit more to it. Even if I get dialed in and just write one sentence in twenty minutes and then call it a day, coming back the next day feels so much easier than if I’d just taken the day off. I’m also not the type of writer that can jump from scene to scene—I’ve always been more of a pantser and my pieces change so much over the course of a first draft that going ahead and writing a later scene feels like it boxes me in, whether consciously or not. The flipside of being so finicky is that when all of that stuff is firing I can write pretty fast. Like I can do ~2,000 words in a few hours and have written a couple of 65-75,000 word novel drafts in two or so months.

@Alveric I’d be interested in hearing more about that journal. Weird and fantastical fiction is 100% my jam.

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#6

Hey, cool. So I edit a journal with the dour name of Dead Reckonings which is published by Hippocampus Press—it’s a small press operation that focuses on weird and horror fiction from Lovecraft and his contemporaries up to current authors. The journal was originally focused on doing reviews of horror, weird, gothic, fantasy etc. but since I started editing a few years ago we’ve tried to bring in more creative writing and push the limits on what we can bring in under our general “genre” focus. There was talk of the publisher doing a strictly fiction focused journal but that stalled out so now I am trying, with admittedly limited success, to incorporate fiction into Dead Reckonings. Basically, I have a lot of room to do what I want with the journal and now it’s simply a matter of putting plans and desire into action. If you want to a digital copy of some recent issues to look over or have any questions feel free to shoot me a DM or I can be reached at deadreckoningsjournal@gmail.com (or I can respond in this thread) (also this offer is totally open to anyone who reads this).

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#7

How do you go about writing an outline?

I always try to do one, and feeling like I get lost in the details when just writing the manuscript feels a lot more fulfilling.

Is it just a word document with bullet points?

#8

Late night writer. I consider after 10 to be “sacred hours” where I put the phone where I can’t see it, only look at a screen if I’m using it to type, and either try to read or write. (I break this sometimes to consume other media-- I’ll stay up late for sekiro, for ex, but I’m otherwise p good at it). Make tea, light a candle, turn on a fan for noise if someone’s in the house. Otherwise I set a time to write for, and trust that I’ll work through any blockages I have before I go to sleep

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#9

I didn’t realize I was doing it, but I have an off- the-cuff file/random jottings notebook to catch my flotsam. Huh.

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#10

Basically, yeah! Or sometimes just a sheet of paper. But! I’ve also found that putting up a large sheet of paper with sticky notes can help too.

This is one I used last year for a novella I wrote. It also can be satisfying because as I finished a section I removed the sticky note and it gave a real feeling of progress.

It is easy to get caught up in the details of the story, but the more I made outlines the better I got at just putting down the skeleton of the story I’m writing. (Of course if there are details I can’t bear to forget I’ll put them in.) I also recognize that outlines work for me, but may not work for other people. I tend to be kinda scatterbrained and an outline is like a to do list I can refer back to when I get distracted.

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