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.



My list of unfinished, and thus unpublished blog posts is growing. For each one, I got stuck and stopped. Writer’s block, blogger’s block. Blogked, without further progress.

I tried getting the words out on a post all week this last week. Still not finished.

A couple of weeks before that, the same with a post about a book author I met at the 2013 Minnesota Ironman Bike Ride. Not to mention the post about the great ride I had that day. How long ago was the event? Only five weeks tomorrow. Sigh.

Last November’s NaNoWriMo. My first 5K. Other assorted topics.

At least I managed to get unblogked enough to finish this one all the way to clicking Publish.


Today’s challenge is for me to declutter my writing. Oh, and this also includes cleaning up my work area.

Let’s tackle the latter part of the challenge first, shall we?

Crickets chirp.

More crickets chirp.

Still more crickets chirp.

How about I create a new directory (folder, for you Mac and Windows Vista/7/8 people*) on my computer to put my latest writing project files in and call it a day? Cool? Cool.

* Truth be told, I am one of those Windows Vista/7/8 people. But I grew up calling folders directories. Even Apple called them directories, back when ProDOS was AWESOME. It was, too. I’m not kidding. Actually, there is a subtle difference between a folder and a directory, but no need to quibble over minor details.

OK, back to decluttering my writing. The key lesson to be learned is to strip out, eradicate, and remove all the extraneous, unnecessary, nonessential, unneeded, pointless, superfluous words.

Methinks this may be a tough lesson for me to learn. NaNoWriMo is all about writing gobs of text with no editing allowed. Editing, which includes decluttering, is reserved later months. Nothing I’ve written for NaNo thus far is worth decluttering. Cannibalizing, yes. Decluttering, no.

Still, I will make an effort to work on this challenge in my everyday writing.


Yesterday, I said I was going to share the work of someone I have never shared before. I also said this deserved a post of its own…

One day a tweet caught my eye. It was different from the usual in my Twitter feed. I traced its source back to its owner’s web site. I am still at a loss for words to describe how I feel whenever I visit the site. Stunned? Outraged? Saddened? Awestruck? Thankful?

Learning to Hope is the story of a couple’s lives turned upside down and inside out by terminal brain cancer.

I found a news story about Kevin and Tashi. A bit of a prequel to the blog.

I have been thinking about Wash and Tashi a lot lately. From the little bit I gather from the blog, I am pretty sure that philosophically, theologically, politically, whateverally, they and I are probably on opposite sides of most fences. But that doesn’t matter. They need help. A postcard, some cookies, even a few bucks would make their day.

I need to send something before he’s gone. I need to pass on their story before he’s gone.

There isn’t much time left.


Today’s challenge is for me to share work others have done.

This is all about giving a lift to someone else by showing off what they have done. Oh, and this is done without telling them.

Granted, this may be the easiest challenge in the series to accomplish. But, it is still an important one. Every popular writer was at one time not so popular. Sharing helped change that.

There isn’t a single person I have read or read now who wasn’t shared to me somehow by someone else.

I am going to find someone’s work I have never shared with anyone before and post it in another entry tomorrow. It deserves a post of its own. And it is way past my bedtime. Yeah, I’m copping out, but I need my beauty sleep.

Whose work would you share and why? If you have written a post about it, feel free to share the link instead.


Today’s challenge is for me to connect with other writers.

In a way I am kind of surprised this is even a challenge. Software developers connect with each other all the time.

“Hey, how do you do this?”

“Did you see the cool new features in the new version of the IDE (integrated development environment)?”

“Try adding this. It should make your query run about four times faster.”

Somehow, it seems like we writers aren’t as eager to connect with each other. Maybe it is because our product is less flashy. Maybe it is a culture thing. Whatever it is, I will make more of an effort to connect with other writers. My blog’s like and follow list is a good place to start. (Thank you all!)

The guidelines of the challenge say there are three kinds of writers I should seek out: friends, fans, and patrons.

As a developer, I know how to find friends and fans. I am not so good finding patrons. The few of those that I have had along the way have come along more by their action than anything I did directly.

This could be my most difficult challenge yet.


Today’s challenge is for me to build.

Build. To form by combining parts, to develop according to a plan, to increase by adding gradually. Thanks, Wiktionary!

I look at that and I realize I am often not very good about building. I often don’t get to a finished form. I often have no particular process. I often increase my creation in spurts, when I feel like it.

Instead of the hare, I should be more like the tortoise. Measured, steady, ongoing progress, one step at a time. Reaching the final goal instead of burning out.