A while back, author Patrick Freivald tagged me on Facebook to list seven things I do while writing:
1. Research everything. I wrote a scene in a vampire novel where some desperate fathers rob a blood bank at a hospital. I downloaded a map of a hospital to use as a model, studied its security procedures, and explored how they dispose of blood samples in their trash (they often incinerate them onsite). I’m amazed that horror writers, with their online research habits, don’t end up investigated by the FBI.
2. Dream the novel. Another thing I do while writing is take a shower, drive a car, wait in line at a store, lie in bed falling asleep and sit on the can. There are many approaches to writing a novel, but one I used is to think an idea through for some time and then start typing after that. For me, writing isn’t just typing, it’s also thinking, taking notes, planning and researching. If you like this approach, keep a small notebook in your back pocket and a pen in your front pocket at all times. Think about your book in the still moments during the day and write down snatches of character, plot and dialog. When you reach a critical mass, start typing.
3. I write in almost absolute silence like the most boring person ever. I’ve tried to listen to music–and then I could be cool and say I listen to music while I write–but it just doesn’t work for me. Picture a guy staring at a screen with a blank look on his face for hours. That’s about as exciting as it gets. In my head, however, all hell is breaking loose.
4. Reread the last scene I wrote to get back into the manuscript’s vibe.
5. Play wack-a-mole with distractions like email and text messages popping up.
6. Don’t stop until I write at least one scene. Typically 1,000 words, and hope I have time and juice for another scene. I try to write a close-to-finished first draft rather than dash out the first draft and then do a methodical send draft, so the main goal for me is quality, not quantity.
7. Keep the emotional rollercoaster at bay until the writing is done. When I’m done, that’s when I allow myself to experience elation, self-doubt and the novel hangover.