Advice to New Writers Part 6: “Odds & Ends”
Before we proceed any further with the plethora of bad advice that I have been pushing on you we need to discuss a few things that are essential to my writing process but would be subjective for everyone else. I realize this may just seem like a bout of mental masturbation but these are details I consider important. While they most likely will NOT be the things that are important to you I think it is safe to say that if you study your process you will easily compile a similar list.
My Writing Space
For me where I write is nearly as important as what I write. When I wrote my very first book, Dead Reign, I was working at Toys R Us. I was on good terms with the store manager and he had no problem allowing me to use the crappy conference room as my writing space. I wrote two novellas, one full book, and my contribution to a group written book either in the conference room or the break room of the two Toys R Us stores I worked at.
After I left Toys R Us I went to work at my current day job at the retirement community. At first I was uncertain if I would be able to write anything there. But once again I found an unnamed space where I was able to create and it was there where I penned the entire Shores of the Dead Series and every other piece of work I have produced since.
But Josh, what about writing at your house?
For me it doesn’t work, or at least it is extremely difficult for me to write in my home. I do not have a dedicated office and with three kids still living at home it is nearly impossible for me to find the time or solitude I need to write. I have managed to turn out some work while at home but it has always been difficult and not very fun.
Writing should always be fun.
My Writing Environment
I get picky when it comes to writing. There are certain things I seem to need in order to create at an acceptable level. This a simple list of things I try to make happen or have available when writing.
Temperature – I need a cool environment when writing. I always make sure the air conditioner is set as cold as possible. I also always bring a portable fan with me. The combination of extra cooling and breeze in my face helps me relax and concentrate
Noises – I find it hard to write in complete silence. Sometimes I like to have music in the background while I write and sometimes I just want the white noise of the AC and the fan. More and more I put on a podcast very low in the background, the sounds of people having a quiet conversation that I am able to drown out and ignore has yielded some productive sessions. The one thing I do not want on is the television. TV shows and Movies draw me out of writing at the best and actually leach into my tales at worst
Linear/Nonlinear – I am unable to write anything from beginning to end. I have to jump around and write in bits and pieces. The perfect example it the Shores of the Dead. I had the very last chapter of book 3 roughed out on the page before I was half way done with book 1. I work in isolated scenes that I proceed to knit together with bridging segments later on. I rarely work with outlines and that all leads to a kind of chaotic style of writing that works for mw but which I do not recommend for anyone else.
Food & Drink – I like to eat and drink. Just look at a picture of me and you will know that to be an absolute truth. The sun is hot, water is wet, and Josh likes to eat and drink. When I am writing ice water and nuts are my primary fodder. Sometimes I will throw iced tea into the mix.
Implements – When I was a teenager and young adult I was a long hand writer. Allow me to put this in perspective. I hated type writers and outside of school computers were to fucking expensive and unavailable. When I was in 8th grade I wrote my first really competent story, a mashup rip off of Star Trek 2 and The Abyss on my grandmother’s computer. An Ancient Tandy. These days I work solely on my lap top and consider myself very spoiled. I have an entire trunk of legal pads (my old school paper of choice) filled with short stories and busted novels too painfully bad to look at.
When I am writing a first draft I want absolutely zero input from others. I don’t want to tell you what my book is about and I don’t want to hear your ideas. So for the love of all of the gods that have never been please leave me alone! It’s not that I do not appreciate interest from friends and family but I don’t want it when I am trying to cut my work out of the creative granite.
This may piss some people off and I know it does irritate many but I do no research during the first draft stage. When I have completed the first draft and received feedback from my initial reader (Karen) I do some research. The second draft is when I put a polish on the work before sending it out to Beta Readers and/or Editors. This is when I go through and facts check my bullshit against the real world.
Remember Kids …
ALL ROUGH DRAFTS SUCK!!!
Font – Century Gothic
Size – 12 point
Programs – Microsoft Word and Scrivener
Alright folks that’s it for today. I doubt you will find much of it interesting or useful. But I wanted to give everyone a look behind the curtain and see the bedrock of my writing process.
Till next time kids have some fun and write something.