Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What Gets You In The Mood?

The best emotions to write out of are anger and fear or dread. The least energizing emotion to write out of is admiration. It is very difficult to write out of because the basic feeling that goes with admiration is a passive contemplative mood – Susan Sontag

What Gets You In The Mood For Writing?

A blank document stares back at you. You must place fingers on keyboard, you must tap out words to form sentences, but your brain refuses to cooperate. You glance at your wall, at the innocent little paper, which quotes Epitetus saying ‘If you wish to be a writer, write.’ You wish he were still alive so you could stab a HB pencil through his eye. You glance back at the blank screen and think this is too freaking hard. Should it be this hard?

You turn on some music, maybe country music because the songs remind you of stories or you might choose a soundtrack from a favorite movie. You think, hey, I’ll start by checking my favorite blogs. Low and behold, you find you are not a lone. Other writers struggle too. Your mood ring, dating back to the 1970's, begins to change from black (very stressed) to an ugly puce color that has no meaning but is better then jet black. The phone rings with a request for money, his name is Eric and he has the tenacity of a pit bull and won’t take no for an answer, your mood slips but you hear Josh Groban serenading you in Italian in the background. You decide to name your villain Eric.

But what to do with your Eric? You decide to reach for your copy of Characters, Emotion, and Viewpoint; Techniques and exercises for crafting dynamic characters and effective viewpoints by Nancy Kress from the Write Great Fiction series. You read a chapter and do the exercises and now your mood ring is an amber color because you’re moved your way up to anxious and uncertain.

You think of poor, murderous Eric, he may be villainous but there’s no reason he can’t be a hottie. You need inspiration, you acknowledge research is a critical element in every story. You turn to the Internet and Google and, yes you do, you search for pictures of hot, scantily clad men. You bookmark your favorite sites. Your mood ring glows a beautiful happy blue color.

You turn to your blank screen, you begin to pound out one crappy sentence at a time because suddenly you are Nora Roberts, you are fearless, and you remind yourself that you can fix a bad page but you cannot fix a blank one. You check your mood ring and it’s a romantic and passionate indigo. You hear the door and know your DH is home and you think its time for a little romance of your own.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!!!

What practices or routines do you indulge in to help you get down to the business of writing? Do you listen to music or prefer the quiet? Do you scribble down random thoughts to get things flowing, maybe tackle a writing exercise, or do you stare at that blank screen?


Anita Mae Draper said...

Hello Karen, I like your post.

Before I start writing, I have to shut off anything that makes noise - that includes TV, radio and kids. :) or should that be :(

Then I have to go through my emails, Facebook, blogs, etc to see if anyone needs me.

Then I open whatever doc I need to work on, read back a bit to get my thoughts in order, then start writing.

I've only experienced writer's block once where I've actually sat with a blank screen and that was for a challeng where I had to write within certain parameters. Usually I've made notes ahead of time so when I actually open the doc, I'm rarin' to go.

Karen said...

Hi Anita,
Sounds like you are a very organized soul and that must go a long way to ensuring productivity. I do not function well in absolute silence so I need soft music in the background. First thing in the morning I log on and go through the ritual of checking every which where to see what's happening in various places then I get the kids off. After that I sit down to write, hopefully.


Jana Richards said...

Hi Karen,
I'm like Anita. I cannot write if there's any music or noise. I love the sound of silence.

I know some people enjoy candles and music and find those things get them in the mood, but honestly, I find stuff like that distracting. I'm just weird that way.


Karen said...

Hi Jana,
You're probably more productive that way. Gosh, lighting a candle? I'd be too scared I'd burn the place down after I forgot all about it. And silence is golden!


Janet said...

OK, first of all that was hilarious! Poking your favorite quote author in the eye with a pencil. The mood ring. Fabulous.

And - I can so relate. Especially the 'wander around the blog in the name of research'. And hot men - hello :)

As for my writing rituals. Open laptop, try hard to not hook up to wireless, fail, wander around the blog, try hard not to step into the live chat room at RWA Online, fail, chat for a bit, open up word document, get to work. I don't like noise of any kind because I can't hear my characters. I always think I should light a candle and always forget. Usually I get something done - but I could probably get more done. Oh, well.

And Happy Valentines to you and your hubby.


Suse said...

Hi Karen, it's interesting how we all have rituals that we go through to get to the writing stage. I usually check my emails and this blog. Then I'll probably play a few games of Solitaire 13 before I open my writing. Like Anita, I usually read back a few pages to get into the story and then carry on from there.

If I'm starting something new, I quite often start on paper. I'm not sure why that works for me, but maybe it's so I don't have to face a blank screen.

I can write with low music or the tv on. I can also write with silence, although most of the time, I like to have some background noise.

Karen said...

Thanks Janet,
Its always inspiring to start a solitary day of writing reaching out to others of your kind. I'd like to say more but I'm off to

Karen said...

Hi Suse,
To get my blog going I start with pen and paper and writing down random words. Usually by the time my scribbles fill the page I've come up with my idea.

When I sit down to work on my wip, if I don't have light noise in the background my characters become engulfed by the silence.

Everybody has their rituals, a little comfort food for the writer's soul.