What's taboo for you?

As I've mentioned before, writers are a *special* breed -- as in "isn't she spechul, she just loves playing the nose whistle. Yes, she's self-taught." But I believe part of it is a primal urge to not screw up whatever mojo we've got going for us. Superstition can be useful - don't lick an electric razor on the same side twice - or used as a cautionary tale - ".. and that's why cats don't have thumbs."

I find that the more luck I have in submitting my goofy bits of high literature - stop looking at me like that - to the public, the more I want to repeat that success by repeating the process in all of its OCD glory. I neeeeed a clean desk, tea and dead silence. I mean it. Don't breathe. This, of course, is nearly impossible with five children under the age of 16 so I tend to work a lot during afternoon naps or when it's the middle of the night and I can drool on my keyboard without anyone poking me and asking a sister if it's okay to bury me outside.

In a highly scientific survey of writers on facebook, I found that some of the most outwardly sane writers have a few kinks in their repertoire:

- Beth enjoys mumbling, sideways glances and a twitch while writing fiction. Okay, everyday life. Whatever.
- Wendy writes while (wait, what's another "w" word) sipping green tea with her feet up. When stuck in a plot hole, she climbs out while pacing. That's got to be fun for the neighbors to watch.
- Tracy taps a Thesaurus for luck before writing. Then she IMs me when she gets stuck. WTH?
- Amy lays claim to the computer by surrounding it with Magic Tiara life force. *backs away slowly* I'm not even touching that one.

Fess up, what do you do to get in the groove? Barry White? Running in small circles?

Photo: Courtesy of flickr.com


  1. Think, think, think.

    Oh, I know!

    Silence. Total silence. Either that, or music blaring so loud the neighbors think I've turned it up to cover some evil deed being performed in my living room. But music that tempts me to sing? Forget it.

    I have watched movies depicting writers as easygoing life forms who move their feet to let the kids run by or rub their dog's belly while brainstorming. Well, either I am not easygoing, or that's a bunch of hooey. At this moment, the dogs are penned in the kitchen with access to the back yard. There is no music and the phone is turned off. (Wish that actually worked with my iPhone, but that bugger rings no matter how "off" I have switched it!)

    As taboo as this is (like how I threw that little word in?), I need a HUGE ashtray. (Yes, I am one of *those* people. And no, I don't sound like George Burns). I also need an ice cold Diet Pepsi or coffee so hot I have to use two coasters. No food, no company. In fact the birds outside are beginning to annoy the life out of me.

  2. Hey! The Magic Tiara thing WORKS! (Doesn't it, my precious?)

  3. I may be skewing your spechul writers curve, but coming from a journalism background, the only thing I need to write is a deadline, and the closer and more seemingly impossible the better.

    Give me a deadline that I really care about...like the possibility of getting another story in another Lori Perkins anthology...and I will write through barking dogs, crying babies, yelling husbands and even really important stuff like ORIGINAL Kolchak: The Nightstalker reruns.

    A magic tiara would be nice though...

  4. I'm with Jan. Nothing gets me tapping the keys like a deadline, even a fabricated one like, "I will finish the first draft by 2am," or "Papers turned in after Friday will receive a zero..." I prefer quiet in my own house, but can work at a coffee shop. I used to have a hat, but you know... it didn't match my shoes once and I realized I could write with out it ;)

  5. I don't think I have any strange rituals, but do like to talk myself through plot things. I do this out loud. Not always at the computer. My children have no chance of normalcy. None.

  6. I say a little prayer to my Muse. Comfy clothes. Tea or coffee, and I'm good to go.

    I like the tapping on the thesaurus. I think I'll try that with my dictionary.

  7. GAH. I can't believe I forgot to mention the Cone of Silence headphones. I've upgraded from the blue airline set to a heavier set with a microphone so I can take your order while working out plot holes.

  8. I usually start with something small. An email can usually get me sparked. A good doodle. Something that leads to something else that leads to that core creative time.

    And agree with Sara and Jan on the deadline because of the concreteness of something set by someone else (plus there's a collaboration aspect there I like). The smaller things can usually lead to 2,000--3,000 words. Or more.

    Once in the mode, I like loud music in my ears (headphones or on speaker) and I usually tend to listen to the same 10-12 songs over and over again. Since I'm in that comfy space and those songs are keeping me comfy, then I want them around for the duration. There's a real pleasure center that's hit when all those things are working.

  9. I really have only one big one: each WIP must begin with a pristine moleskine notebook, and the first job is to make a mess of that notebook. Stuff it with clippings, ruin it with ink until the binding cracks and you have to use a bit of electrical tape to keep it together.

  10. Cheap ass notebook for each WIP, which I keep with me 24/7 and make notes ranging from favourite colour to the ending of the book (one day I'll get it right, too).

    For the writing itself, I like to start with a huge cup of tea. The heat helps kickstart mah brainz.

    If (meaning "when") I get stuck, I stop writing, wander downstairs and bug people for a few minutes, then come back up and force myself to work. :)


  11. Complete when I am planning a WIP
    But in the middle of writing it I need the tunes I liked when I was young, such as 80s pop; it keeps the mind fresh