Describe your workspace.
Describe a typical workday.
I’m a creative writing instructor by occupation, so I typically start the day making sure I’ve done all my duties for teaching (reading student work, doing lesson plans) and use the evening for writing. I dedicate Thursday, Friday, and Sunday as mainly writing days. I’m trying to do that more as I return to writing novels again, which are a really heavy time investment.
List three of your most favorite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.
I have to have a mug of Chick-Fil-A tea with me when I write. I’ve learned even a little caffeine goes a long way for me. At my actual desk–the romanticized ideal of my workspace–I have encouraging rejection letters pinned to my bulletin board. I also have a typewriter, which I’ve started using for typing poems when I need to get away from a computer screen.
Do you have any rituals in your work habits? If so, describe them.
I usually have to have tea when I write. I have a music album or playlist to help me get into whatever project I’m working on–so I start that up, check email/Facebook/whatever through the first song, then proceed to write. When the album ends, it’s a signal for me to take a break.
What do you listen to while you work?
Usually video game soundtracks. My favorites are “Faster than Light,” “Puzzlejuice,” “Dear Esther” and “Globulous.”
What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?
I apologize for this literally being the third time I’ve brought this up, but seriously–Chick-Fil-A unsweet tea is the best thing ever. I have a refill mug from them that I pay 50 cents for unlimited tea–it’s great! I’m known as “that writer who lives at Chick-Fil-A” at this point. I also live off Ghirardelli squares, and Harvest Snaps snapea crisps.
What keeps you focused while you’re working?
A moment that fascinates me. Something bizarre. Something I need to solve, a puzzle. If I’m bored, I can’t write. I have to find something that excites me to write about. If I’m feeling stumped, I do some googling research. I try to find an image that fascinates me. Also, I find that goals help me: deadlines for contests, breaks in the academic year where I know that’ll be my only time to really make progress–those help me focus too.
Do you write longhand, on a computer, or another way?
Computer all the way–I like rearranging things real-time and playing with the page. I also am getting more interested in how I can incorporate images, so my most recent project also has texts, snapchats, Facebook pages, graphs and more. I sometimes write poems longhand and with the typewriter –mainly if I need to unwind and get away from a computer. But I can’t do fiction without the computer. In high school I wrote out a novel in a notebook by hand–probably more for the romantic idea of it–but it worked. It made me not jump around. Now I have to jump around 🙂
How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?
I can’t do any prep work or I get bored–I have to wing it. I have to discover it as it happens. I sometimes do some vague outlining. I really love using headers and table of contents in Microsoft Word, so I can get a visual sense of the structure of my novel, and jump between scenes. On my current novel project, a mixed media YA retelling of an abusive relationship, where there are so many different objects and texts and things, this has been particularly necessary.
This question is hard! I grew up an only child so the first few times I read this I cringed: Ugh! Sharing! But seriously, if I could share it with pretty much any other writer, I’d be stoked. I’ve found that some “rubber duck debugging” (as in, talking out a problem to find the solution) has become a really important part of my writing process.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?
Write first, edit only after you’ve finished a draft. This current novel project has been really emotionally challenging for me, and I’ve wanted to give up/edit everything/throw my computer in a fire, but I know nothing will happen if I never get to an end of the draft. So I keep writing.