1. NaughtyNick
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    NaughtyNick Member

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    What are your ideal writing conditions?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by NaughtyNick, Aug 25, 2011.

    listening to music / complete silence?
    morning / afternoon / evening?
    clothed / naked (only joking)?

    I am a very fussy writer. I need absolute quiet and I have to be wearing shorts and a t-shirt (no footwear under any circumstances - that would utterly inhibit my creative impulses).

    I am at my best around 10pm, when the house is silent and my brain has purged itself of the working day. The darkness seems to help. I come up with my best ideas and produce my most seamless prose when there is no outside light. The world is a distraction.

    The downside is that I very often don't get to bed until after 1pm, which means I often only get around five hours sleep.

    If I didn't have a job and a family, this writing lark would be so much easier. Did Dickens or Bronte ever have to spend their waking days creating web applications, battling the traffic on the A5, cooking dinner, feeding and bathing a one year old daughter, reading her a story, putting her to bed and then tidying the kitchen? They did? I take it all back then.
     
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  2. jpeter03
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    jpeter03 Member

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    Interesting question. I used to prefer complete silence and writing in the evening. Now I sometimes listen to classical music or jazz and I am most productive in the early morning or the afternoon. Am I getting old? I need my evenings to yell at neighborhood children for trampling on my azaleas. I am a graduate student so my schedule is flexible, but I do appreciate your point about not having more time or energy to write.
     
  3. skeloboy_97
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    skeloboy_97 Senior Member

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    Im like you, late at night, utter silence. Sometimes a little light classical turned down very low is alright, but that's all.
     
  4. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Music - whether it be orchestral or lyrical.
    Internet - so I can procrastinate or listen to music.
    Good mood and inspiration.
     
  5. pinelopikappa
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    pinelopikappa Senior Member

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    NaughtyNick you must be a virgo (only joking).

    I owe a lot to my university days. I learned to write on a pc as well as longhand, in quiet places as well as in as noisy as they can get (syntax breakdown). Besides I am a city girl, lack of human noises seems unnatural to me. I don't have a ritual or anything, except maybe a cup of tea (several actually). Morning or evening, it depends on how clear my head is at any given moment. I think that writing for school (or for anything with a deadline which does not require producing a masterpiece) helps a lot at taking the mystique out of the act of writing. Having said that, who doesn't love the myth attached to the creative process?

    As for all the distractions you mention, for me they work just fine. I need all the real life's problems to make my brain work. Interaction with other people is not a bad thing, and cleaning the kitchen could be thinking time. I mean, doing chores is physical but not thought consuming. You might use that time to plot and plan your writing. Saying bed time stories to your kid, even if she is not the right audience yet, what a creative time that could be! Of course it all depends on what you are writing about. Maybe your themes require peace. Maybe you should give your lifestyle a chance though. Even traffic jams can be funny if you become an observer of people and don't allow yourself to be mad. Maybe.

    As for all the wonderful writers you mentioned, I'm sure they would have written anyway regardless of their situation. Chekhov was a doctor with huge responsibilities (talk about stress!). Dostoyevsky was in exile ("shut up in a coffin" he described it), not to mention the rest of his tragic life. He wrote:

    In summer, intolerable closeness; in winter, unendurable cold. All the floors were rotten. Filth on the floors an inch thick; one could slip and fall... We were packed like herrings in a barrel... There was no room to turn around. From dusk to dawn it was impossible not to behave like pigs... Fleas, lice, and black beetles by the bushel...

    Shakespeare had to make a living out of his writing, not to mention all of his business worries, dealing with ruthless authorities/censorship etc.

    Ok, no more examples, but you get my point.

    By the way, all writers are being asked that question, and I always love to hear the answer. What is it about the process that fascinates the rest of us?

    End of rant.
     
  6. jpeter03
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    jpeter03 Member

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    :D I had to laugh because that is so painfully true.
     
  7. NaughtyNick
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    NaughtyNick Member

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    I am a virgo. How spooky.

    Dostoyevsky sounds like a barrel of laughs (only joking)

    You are right in that solitude is gold, in all its guises - driving, standing in a queue, on the toilet. It's funny how writing a book makes you view the world differently, prompting you to analyse seemingly innocuous mannerisms and mundane situations. It makes me feel different too. There is less unspent mental energy bound up inside me. I feel as if am travelling somewhere, adjusting my route whenever I feel like it, not knowing when I will arrive.

    By the way, I tried reading my opening chapter to my daughter. Two sentences in, she grabbed the paper from my hand and started chewing it. I can accept constructive criticism but it seemed a touch harsh.
     
  8. pinelopikappa
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    pinelopikappa Senior Member

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    Your daughter is very cool indeed.

    As for how writing changes our view of the world, for me that's exactly the greatest prize. Kavafy wrote a poem, about how even a beginner in poetry has in fact entered a new city, where most people cannot enter. He called it "the first step".

    Here it is, as small encouragement (because I can tell you have doubts).

    The First Step

    The young poet Evmenis
    complained one day to Theocritos:
    “I have been writing for two years now
    and I have composed just one idyll.
    It’s my only completed work.
    I see, sadly, that the ladder of Poetry
    is tall, extremely tall;
    and from this first step I now stand on
    I will never climb any higher.”
    Theocritos replied: “Words like that
    are improper, blasphemous.
    Just to be on the first step
    should make you happy and proud.
    To have come this far is no small achievement:
    what you have done is a glorious thing.
    Even this first step
    is a long way above the ordinary world.
    To stand on this step
    you must be in your own right
    a member of the city of ideas.
    And it is a hard, unusual thing
    to be enrolled as a citizen of that city.
    Its councils are full of Legislators
    no charlatan can fool.
    To have come this far is no small achievement:
    what you have done already is a glorious thing.”

    See, you are already in good company.

    Off topic by the way.
     
  9. pinelopikappa
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    pinelopikappa Senior Member

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    Back to writing conditions?
    (feeling guilty)
     
  10. NaughtyNick
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    NaughtyNick Member

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    That's a lovely poem, and quite inspiring. Being a budding writer does feel like a membership to an exclusive band of brothers, all with their own neuroses and wavering levels of confidence.

    I guess the written word is precious. Great writing makes the spine tingle while poor writing curdles the blood. It's funny how that, as well as creating a good story, writing a book comes with an unspoken responsibility to do justice to the English language (or whichever language you chose to use).
     
  11. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    Anytime. Anywhere. As long as I can hear something (music, people, TV, etc) then it's all good.

    I don't have any ideal scenario because I've adapted to being able to write under any circumstances - five years ago I was only capable of writing when I was completely alone.
     
  12. Logan | Aspire
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    Logan | Aspire New Member

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    I personally prefer to write in the evening when there is no background noise. However I am a little conflicted on the music vs. peace and quiet. It honestly depends on how I'm feeling I guess, because listening to music could positively influence your writing under certain circumstances. Although the contrary is also true, music could negatively influence your writing as well.

    -Logan
     
  13. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I love love LOVE silence. Back in my twenties, that meant writing in the very early morning - I would get up at about 4:30 am and write until somebody else was up and started turning things on and talking and generally not being silent.

    Now, silence comes more easily just before bed. But then, I'm usually tired, and I have to watch how much alcohol I've had if I'm to get in a decent writing session. It's harder this way.

    I want to go back to writing early in the morning, but my current living situation makes that a bit difficult.
     
  14. Quorum1
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    Quorum1 Member

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    Silence and a sleeping toddler! No chance of writing when she's awake :p

    I find I write better when I have limited time to do it oddly enough. When I was on maternity leave before my DD was born I had all the time in the world and wrote nothing, but now when I have scraps here and there I seem to get motivated easier.

    Nick, I wouldn't take your daughter's criticism to heart, at least she didn't pee on it.. My DD treats her own books pretty nicely, but I'm pretty sure she'd make short work of anything I wrote :rolleyes: How old is your little one?
     
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  15. pinelopikappa
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    pinelopikappa Senior Member

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    I find my self doing that as well.
     
  16. NaughtyNick
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    NaughtyNick Member

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    She's thirteen months old and beeeaauutiful. How old is yours?

    I agree with you about how the less time you have, the greater your motivation. Before my daughter was born I had a pretty uncomplicated existence and I did nothing with my time. Now free time is scarce I feel compelled to fill it sitting with my laptop trying to write something decent. Perhaps the motivation only really comes when you realise how precious time is and how fast it disappears.
     
  17. pinelopikappa
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    pinelopikappa Senior Member

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    Here are some habits of famous writers, to get us inspired.
    I believe I can't link, but if you google 'famous writing habits', it's the first link.

    1. Stephen King. In his book On Writing, King says that he writes 10 pages a day without fail, even on holidays. That’s a lot of writing each day, and it has led to some incredible results: King is one of the most prolific writers of our time.

    2. Ernest Hemingway. By contrast with King, “Papa” Hemingway wrote 500 words a day. That’s not bad, though. Hemingway, like me, woke early to write to avoid the heat and to write in peace and quiet. Interestingly, though Hemingway is famous for his alcoholism, he said he never wrote while drunk.

    3. Vladimir Nabokov. The author of such great novels as Lolita, Pale Fire and Ada did his writing standing up, and all on index cards. This allowed him to write scenes non-sequentially, as he could re-arrange the cards as he wished. His novel Ada took up more than 2,000 cards.

    4. Truman Capote. The author of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood” claimed to be a “completely horizontal author.” He said he had to write lying down, in bed or on a couch, with a cigarette and coffee. The coffee would switch to tea, then sherry, then martinis, as the day wore on. He wrote his first and second drafts in longhand, in pencil. And even his third draft, done on a typewriter, would be done in bed — with the typewriter balanced on his knees.

    5. Philip Roth. One of the greatest living American writers, Roth works standing up, pacing around as he thinks. He claimed to walk half a mile for every page he writes. He separates his work life from personal life, and doesn’t write where he lives — he has a studio built away from his house. He works at a lectern that doesn’t face the view of his studio window, to avoid distraction.

    6. James Joyce. In the pantheon of great writers of the last century, Joyce looms large. And while more prolific writers set themselves a word or page limit, Joyce prided himself in taking his time with each sentence. A famous story has a friend asking Joyce in the street if he’d had a good day writing. Yes, Joyce replied happily. How much had he written? Three sentences, Joyce told him.

    7. Joyce Carol Oates. This extremely prolific writer (see her bibliography on her Wikipedia page!) has won numerous awards, including the National Book Award. She writes in longhand, and while she doesn’t have a formal schedule, she says she prefers to write in the morning, before breakfast. She’s a creative writing professor, and on the days she teaches, she says she writes for an hour or 45 minutes before leaving for her first class. On other days, when the writing is going well, she can work for hours without a break — and has breakfast at 2 or 3 in the afternoon!
     
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  18. NaughtyNick
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    Very interesting.

    Imagine a dinner party with that lot. I wouldn't want to be stuck between Joyce and Hemingway. I'd have slashed my wrists before the cheese and biscuits turned up.
     
  19. pinelopikappa
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    pinelopikappa Senior Member

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    Oh yes. In terms of being weird I think most of us are on the path of becoming writers already.
     
  20. pinelopikappa
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    pinelopikappa Senior Member

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    Amos oz has two pens he uses: one for his fiction and another for non-fiction. It helps him get into the frame of mind he needs each time.
     
  21. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Quiet and in nature.

    I don't always have the second, but I need the first.
     
  22. Quorum1
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    Quorum1 Member

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    She is 15 months, just the cheekiest little sausage around :D I now look back on my pre-kids time and think 'what was I doing?!?!' But I think she inspires me some too.
     
  23. Lavender Soda
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    Lavender Soda Member

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    I like would write during my freetime whether it's day or night, but I'm most active at night.
    I like it to be dark and I must have some kind of noise like music (either classic rock or "elevator music") and I also like the sound of ticking clocks so I have a few of them in my room to listen to. I also like it to be dark with just a bit of light to see since I'm rather sensitive to light and it seems to trigger headaches.
     
  24. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Silence - and I work better when under pressure and in a panic.
     
  25. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I prefer to have some steady noise in the background. I can't stand people talking so I can hear what they say (the murmur in coffee shops is alright). TV and music is preferable.

    When inspiration strikes, I can write anywhere, anytime. When I'm at school, when I'm at work, when I should be sleeping... any time inconvenient actually. When I'm not inspired, I need to be at my desk and really focus and force myself slightly until I get back into it. That used to take me like thirty minutes if I could stand writing for so long, but lately I only need five minutes and I'm totally in the zone, regardless of my previous mood.

    The only mood (if it counts as a mood) I can't write in, is when I'm physically tired and my eyelids are heavy, and I just want to lie down.
     

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