Writing habits: a questionnaire

Last evening I ran across Jodie Llewellyn’s also-named Writing Habits: A Questionnaire, inspired by The YA League’s similarly named series. It seems like a good set of questions for me to work through as well, so here goes…

1. Typed or handwritten?
Almost everything I write is recorded on a qwerty keyboard. I have a couple Microsoft Word docs and OneNote pages on my phone (currently a Lumia 925), auto-synced to SkyDrive OneDrive, to record snips of inspiration on the go. Heavier-duty fare calls for the normal-sized keyboard I use with my tablet (currently a Surface Pro).

2. Cursive or printed
Thoughts flowing from my pen tend to be something you could call printed cursive. Cursive print? When it comes to a keyboard my choice of font is usually a sans serif.

3. Show us your favorite pen
Bic Crystal® pens and a Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencilThese days I don’t really have a favorite pen. If it feels comfortable in my hand, the ink flows smoothly, and said ink’s color is appropriate enough for the task at said hand, then it is my favorite pen for the time being. That said, I used to really like the Bic Crystal® pens.

On the pencil front, a yellow #2 Dixon Ticonderoga fits the bill. Nicely sharpened, thank you. I used to go for mechanical on occasion. But by the time I’ve gone through a couple leads, I have had enough of leads that break too easily or rotate back to the dull side of the point.

4. Where do you like to write?
All I need is a reasonably comfortable chair. If a desk or table is involved, one a comfortable height relative to a chair. As far as overall environment, I don’t like people reading over my shoulder, and repeated interruption gets old. (As I write this, the repeated interruptions is downright ancient.)

5. Who are your five favorite authors in terms of authorial style?
Book cover: Mid-life Cyclists, by Chris McHutchison and Neil BlundellHard question for me to answer. Right now I am reading Chris McHutchison and Neil Blundell’s Mid-life Cyclists on the Kindle apps on my tablet and phone. I like their style of humor, and how they make use of it to tell their interwoven stories.

6. What are you your three favorite books on writing?
None come to mind at the moment. I will probably try to dive into a few as NaNoWriMo approaches. Speaking of NaNo…

7. Have you ever competed in NaNoWriMo?
Yes, five times tried, three times won. My stories always seem to die off during the month, and I end up need characters read way too much news. So, a lot of people, myself included, would say my victories were not so victorious. I have a really hard time coming up with plausible situations for my characters that aren’t so horrendously boring that they are driven to read the news instead of live out their factious lives.

8. Have you ever won NaNoWriMo?
Didn’t we just cover that?

9. Have you ever had anything published?
Assuming you aren’t counting blog posts, no.

10. What projects are you working on now?
Every few weeks my thoughts turn toward NaNo 2014.

11. What is your soundtrack to writing?
That depends on what I’m currently hooked on. For the last few months (yes, months) I have had Clubfeet on auto-repeat on my phone’s media player. I am particularly partial to Cape Town, Get Loose, and Everything You Wanted from their album Heirs & Graces, but I generally like every one of their songs.

Incidentally, I found Clubfeet purely by accident. I happened across an article about the video Oh Yeah Wow created for Everything You Wanted just after it became a Vimeo Staff Pick. Between the video and the five synthy guitar-like notes at the 1:48 mark, I had this song on auto-repeat all day everyday for about a week. Now look what you’ve done: it’s on again…

12. Do you have a writing pump-up song?
No. What gets me pumped to write is an idea practically screaming in my head to flow into a keyboard.


NaNoWriMo 2013

November has come and gone, and so has another NaNoWriMo.

It takes writing 50,000 words from November 1 through November 30 to win. I hit 50,543 words on Day 22, and pushed it further to 55,867 on Day 24. I had planned to go for 60K, but decided to enjoy a week off.

I fully intended to write a novel, but early on I became what is termed a NaNo Rebel. I switched to a record of events leading up to November 2. Within a week or so later, I changed to exploring the Protestant Reformation.

Perhaps the characters I briefly met in November 2013 will return to live out a slice of their fictitious lives in November 2014.


    Today’s edition of The Daily Post, When Life Gets in the Way: Finding Time to Blog, feels like it was written for me.

    My last post is just shy of three months old already. I have felt guilty for ignoring my millions thousands hundreds dozens handful of adoring fans hanging on for so long for my next mind-blowing installment. Today’s aforementioned The Daily Post provided the proper kick in the pants.

    So, here’s what’s been up:

    • Work. Lots of it. That has finally started to ease up.
    • Scleroderma. Insanely fast, aggressive diffuse systemic scleroderma. My sister will soon be a widow and the mother of two children robbed of their father. He came into this world in nine months from conception to birth. Now it appears he will leave it in about nine months from diagnosis to death. I know life isn’t fair, but This. Is. Not. Fair.
    • Church. Denomination, too. I am debating leaving the one we have attended for years for another. Staying is becoming increasingly difficult. Leaving will probably be quite hard. But I think the time has come, and is probably long overdue. My family is starving for solid teaching.

    Before I leave you hanging again, NaNoWriMo 2013 starts in just 13 days. Are you ready?

Oh, how novel

In little more than six months NaNoWriMo 2012 begins, and a few hundred thousand will throw themselves into thirty days and nights of literary abandon. Most likely, myself included.

My first year was 2009. Objectively, it was my most successful, storywise. It definitely had the most words somewhat pertaining to my feeble plot. I did not do any planning on the story until November 1. A story idea sparked from some free-writing I included in my word count, and I was glad for that. (All writing is fair game for inclusion in the word count!) Reaching the 50,000-word goal by month’s end was thrilling!

My attempt the next year did not go well at all. My region’s municipal liaison was AWOL 99% of the time. No one attended any of my lunchtime write-ins at the library. And I couldn’t come up with any kind of story idea. I let these annoyances overly annoy me, and I gave up just over a week into the challenge.

Last year’s NaNo was another winner for me. I was determined to not only reach 50,000 words, but to also ensure my region had a municipal liaison. I applied and was accepted as co-ML to the formerly AWOL ML. Then reality hit. Pressure to write 50K as an example to region participants. Pressure to organize write-ins. Pressure to provide ongoing encouragement to struggling participants. Pressure to co-ordinate my support efforts with my co-ML. I cranked out close to 30K words in the final week, for a glorious streak across the finish line, and had fun meeting other writers. Truth be told, I never did come up with much of a story. I had characters read a lot of news I found on the Internet. I copied every word, keystroke by keystroke. Copy-pasting would have crossed the line into outright cheating.

So here we are, six months and two weeks until NaNo 2012. The rules say no writing before November 1, but planning ahead of time is perfectly acceptable. I think I’ll start planning now. It would be awesome to produce a rough draft that actually resembled the rough draft of a real novel for a change.