How do you write?
So I ended up in an interesting conversation with Wyeth Bailey earlier this week and thought I would toss this question out to everyone because I’m curious. How do you write?
Ok, ok, I know, you’re giving me that whole “what the hell are you talking about, Ais” look. Lemme explain.
Wyeth and I have conversations that ramble about and we were talking about what kind of thinkers we are. You see, Wyeth is a very visual sort of person(I’ll let her post her own explanation if she wants to). I, however, think in words. Like, literally, when I think of someone more often than now I’ll see their name in letters(in their handwriting if it’s someone that I’m that familiar with). If it’s someone that I see on a regular basis I’ll see their face. For instance, Wyeth and I were comparing how our minds reacted to Harper Eliot. Wyeth saw images, I had Harper’s words, her old username and her new, a flicker of her old avi, and some of the tweets that stand out in my head.
That conversation then morphed. Wyeth asked me, “So do you see the words when you write?”
My answer that day was a bit of a ramble, so I’ll make it somewhat more concise here, but what I’m really interested in is your answer.
For me writing feels like I’ve a store of words and ideas in my head all bottled up. The act of writing or typing creates the outlet for those. I prefer to type when I’m creating, mostly because I’m lefthanded and my handwriting is, at best, marginal. I also type much faster than I could ever write, though at times I have retreated to a notebook and found that for some reason that works better.
Now, you would think that with all those words just waiting to come out it’s just a matter of pulling the plug. Some days that’s all I have to do. There are times where I feel like I’m Atlas holding up the words until I can get to my keyboard and write because they’re struggling to come flooding out. Those are great days, when I write thousands of words all at a crazy pace and things are just there. Writing isn’t work but just riding the rush, what I imagine is like surfing or parachuting or one of those other adrenaline pumping pursuits.
But most days it’s like that sandglass is actually full of water and instead of standing up it’s lying down and I have to figure out how to get the words out. For me, this is where music comes in. When the words won’t flow on their own I have to find a way to guide them.
Do you remember capillary action experiments in science class? That’s what music acts as for my writing. The words and ideas are the source, the music is my wick, my blank page is the waiting reservoir. I use different types of music for different stories, raise the tempos if I’m writing action, slow it down if I’m getting introspection or painful. Usually once the words are going I don’t need the music to continue but it can keep the flow from slowing or stalling. If I’m writing long works I rarely write to singing; I’ve enough words to deal with without adding more. Short fiction is another matter, however, and can benefit from being written to a good soundtrack that keeps my toe tapping.
So. Will you share? How do you write? How do you get things started? Do you write to music? Does it take a run, a shower, some tunes, hot sex? ;)