1– I have this thing with blue pens.
I’m not sure when this mess started, but shortly after my first blank notebook, I switched to only writing in blue pens. Sure, at first I’d use a black pen when I needed. I dare say there are a few drafts in purple out there somewhere… but not recently. Blue it is. Preferably cheap papermates.
Though, funny enough, the darker the ink, the better.
2– I skip the first page of a new notebook
First page jitters. There was this mental paralysis with the first page. I mean, it is the FIRST PAGE. This is the first thing anyone will see… not that anyone else was reading my notebook. The solution? I skipped it. Moved to page 2 and started writing.
Doesn’t that make page 2 by default, page 1?
3– My notes / writing is chaotic
There is little in the sense of order in my notebooks, or in the manner which I tackle my writing. A journal note can turn into a blog post, jump into poetry. A character analysis from a fantasy novel can sit in between scenes from a horror short I am working on. I learned long ago to just write it down when it comes to me, rather than try to force focus. This does, however, mean there a lot of unfinished things in my backlog.
4– I read aloud while editing
I blame, and affectionately so, poetry for this. When I edit fiction I will read it aloud. Usually first as a whole, then parts over and over, listening to the sounds and word choices. Often I will restructure parts based more on how they read aloud then how they read on the page–making word choices based on sound and rhythm, rather than some more conventional fictional wisdom.
5– First Drafts are King
This is something I struggle with still, but it goes like this: If the first draft isn’t nearly the final draft, it doesn’t work out well. Work that needs a lot of edits somehow never turn out how I want. More often, I will take what I wrote (the thing that really needs edited), push it aside and completely re-write it fresh, reconstructing the story/chapter/section from scratch. But even then, there is a momentum issue, each word building on the previous. Often this has caused me to abandon stories.
6– I write short
This is something else I blame on poetry, but also on my own reading habits. I live in the shorter end of fiction, keeping words and phrases tight and scenes short. I’ve been working on this one, trying to change from a poetry / flash fiction flow to a novel one, but I struggle.
7– Most of the time, I do not write a story in order
Perhaps with the exception of flash fiction, I usually start with a scene, something that gets me, and jot that down. Then I’ll think about, talk about while driving, and word play with other parts and dialogue, getting the voices of the characters, and the scenes I do know flushed out some. These scenes and moments jump around in time and narration, forcing me to figure out how everyone got from A to B to C, especially when I started at H, then wrote E before dreaming of the sequel, X, Y and F.
During this time I am seeking the plot. But not just that, I call it THE THING, but the part of the story that makes it all click together. THE THING is the difference between a completely competent telling of an event and a great piece of fiction. Usually it alludes me, but when it hits, boom, lightning.