Friday, May 15, 2009

Outside influences on your creative process

I've recently done a lot of thinking about extraneous aspects of the creative process here lately, with the lull in between the second and third agented book. I have to know your opinion. Do you do playlists? I've seen lots of entries lately, what with people making *entire* playlists and CDs and stuff for their MS. 
Me, I don't even listen to music when I'm writing. 
And do you get pictures of your characters and look at them? 

Do you plot beforehand or after?
Me, I don't do that either. 
And it makes me wonder if there's something wrong with me. I just sit my rear on the chair, put my hands on the keyboard and write. I do it in short sittings, no more than an hour, and usually crank out a chapter a day. The next time I start writing I read a few paragraphs of what I've done and then go on. It seems as though my ideas are plucked out of the air; very rarely has a picture inspired a book. Nature, yes. Paper, no.
No music, no pictures, no sparkly things. 
What is wrong with me?

What extraneous things do you do for your creative process?


  1. I listen to music when I'm writing. I don't plot. I just write and see what happens. It works for me. I don't get pictures - other than what appears in my mind - of my characters and look at them.

    I'm also not an everyday writer. I write when I write, and when I don't, I don't. I normally write in the evenings and, like you, rarely for more than an hour. Some weekends, if the mood strikes me, I can write the day away. It is rare when 'that' happens.

    So, is there something wrong with you? Heck, no. Every writer writers in the way that is best for him/her. There is no set way to write. There is only the writing.


  2. Lol, nothing is wrong with you. It's funny because I just posted something related to this topic, and the creative processes I go through each time a begin a book. It seems like I prepare in a bit of a different way every time, but in the past I've always decided I was going to start something and just sat down and wrote.
    No extensive planning or pictures or anything. And I'd write when I felt like it, evenings, weekends, whenever inspiration struck or I had time.

    Funny how this book I am working on is so different. I feel more pressure for a lot of reasons. So this time I did find pictures for my MC's. I made a playlist because music always inspires me. And I wrote out as many major and minor scene descriptions as I could to help guide the book. Though all these things are lending themselves to greater ease in writing (particularly in the tougher scenes) I am still not writing any faster or remarkably better than I have in the past. Go figure.

    It's just what works for you.

  3. That's funny. I didn't even know many people preferred music while writing. Personally, I'd find it distracting. I'd end up writing a story with words from the songs! I don't find pictures necessary, either. I need to be able to stay focused - heaven knows I'm easily enough distracted as it is.

    Now, other writers can and do inspire me, but usually not immediately before writing.

  4. Scott, exactly true. It sounds like you write very similarly to mine. Except it seems that when I have a really really good book, I go slightly insane. (Like recently) I write at every point I have any time to do so.

    Cindy, precisely. You plot? You have my utter admiration. I had to actually do that with my last finished MS...yikes. I am impressed on how you do it.

    Diane, I can't handle that either. Outside influences do absolutely nothing, nothing for me. I tend to sing along with the lyrics and get totally sidetracked. I'm just like you. Too Much Shiny in the world. :)

  5. To me it's like I am watching the movie in my head, and I'm writing down what I see. I usually have a pretty good idea of the climax and the ending, but have to work back to the beginning. Sometimes I have to start from before the beginning.

    I listen to music with no words. Otherwise, the lyrics are confusing me. I usually listen to classical, opera, instrumental rock and roll, or techno. The techno really works to keep me going when I'm struggling to crank out a scene. That driving beat must jiggle my brain enough to make the words come out.

    I cannot plot either. I tried it once, but pretty much just confused myself. I try to write as much as I can about the characters before I start, because as you all know, that's my weakness. I heard an interesting tip from a writer on the podcast Writers on Writing. He said to pick out a character from a movie that looks like your character, and has some of the mannerisms of your character, then change a few things to match what you need. I do this all the time in engineering so it made sense to me.

  6. I can't write to music, it is too distracting. My son's chattering is my background noise. I imagine my characters in my head. Sometimes I'll look for pictures of generic models who match my idea of the character. Otherwise, no celebrities - too distracting to the story. I'd be imagining their characters from shows and wouldn't be beneficial.

    I write at all different times of the day. It really depends when the mood strikes. I do try to write in the mornings and write out the story longhand. It seems to flow easier that way. I'll type it up later and expand upon what I've written. It sometimes makes for marathon typing sessions because I don't always have the time everyday to sit down and type it up.

  7. I am trying to widen my writing tolerance so I can work anywhere through anything. Thus far the thing that doesn't work for me is writing while people talk to me. Can't do it.

    What has always worked for me though, is music. It's the same as when I was in school and had to study. Music wasn't a distractor, it was something for me to concentrate against. If I have music on, none of the other distractions can get me, because I've already got something to ignore. Without it, I'm far more susceptible.

  8. Nothing is wrong with you! Every book is different for me, so it depends on what mood I'm in and what scene I'm on. If I need inspiration, to get fired about an action scene, I might listen to some heavy metal. But usually it's just silence or my daughter's Disney movies in the background...

  9. I have playlists for my novels, they set the mood for specific scenes as I write. The type of music I listen to changes drastically based on the character/scene I'm creating. I've written listening to Ne-Yo, Bat for Lashes, Nine Inch Nails, and Chopin to name just a handful. I also find that many of my best ideas come when I'm listening to music on long road trips.

    I also don't plot ahead, my writing comes from the characters. I'm never certain what they will say or do until I'm actually writing.

  10. I plot beforehand, and write in silence. I find music in the background to be really distracting.

    Lately, I've been using a minimalist writing environment (Q10) to help focus and facilitate the ABC writing method. It's working very well for me, I wish I'd tried it sooner. I should have figured out the benefits of this "cone of silence" approach before now. As I think back on it, I've been most productive (in terms of words per day) when writing with my Palm + folding keyboard. That's real minimalism.

  11. I don't think anything's wrong with you... you have an agent and a bunch of great books, so you are obviously doing something right! Everyone is different in how they approach writing, I think.

    I used to use music just to block out the noise, but now that the house is quiet I find I write much better without it. Some music will make me think of my book, or of a character, or of a situation or emotion they are working through, but I don't listen while I write most of the time.

    I very loosely plot. Outline-ish kind of stuff, only even more vague than that. Maybe I'd do better with a more stringent plot tool, but I just have a hard time boxing myself in like that. I suppose the kind of stuff I write doesn't demand that either.

  12. I've loved reading everyone's comments because it seems like there *is* no right way :) Well, of course there's not. As long as it works for you, it's right. I like the fact, Venus, that you're working on widening your writing tolerance! how cool is that? Note to self!!


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