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16 Questions Every Writer Should Ask Themselves Part One: As a Writer

Updated on January 17, 2018

As a Writer: Question One

When is the best time for you write?

--Morning

--Afternoon

--Night

--Twilight

--other ____________

Reasoning: For some and most writers, they prefer to write at a certain time. The flow of creativity can come at different times in a day. Personally, for me, I like writing at night before I go to bed. I have a tough time going to bed because I come up with all of these amazing ideas or figuring out answers to my writer's block. I can put pen to paper and come up with some incredible stuff at night.

Stephen King on the other hand writes during the day, and he experiments with different writing techniques, re-writing prose after prose until he gets a draft he likes, and cutting TV down to only an hour a day.

Ernest Hemmingway during an interview with George Plimpton stated, "When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there."

Pick a time that works best for you and your schedule. So, if you want to wake up and write 500 words before breakfast, Do it! If you want write during your son's or daughter's soccer practice, Do it! Or if you can't sleep at 2 am, pull out the notepad and jot down some plot points, maybe write a chapter, or write a battle scene, Do it! Whatever works with establishing your writing habit.

As a Writer: Question Two

For how long do you want to write for? Or how long should you write for?

--20 minutes

--30 minutes

--45 minutes

--60 minutes

--other ___________

Reasoning: I know, I know, every writer can't make a living on royalties unless you have published more than 20 books, or had really great success with the first. Writing is your day job, so you should at least put some time in during the day to contribute to that job because your day job is the only job you don’t give up on. Personally, I make sure to go to bed a little early so I can have time to write and still have time to sleep. Writing calms me down making it easy for me to sleep—if I put my thoughts on paper, the thoughts flying around in my head subside.

Kurt Vonnegut: "In 1965, Vonnegut wrote a letter to his wife Jane about his daily writing habits, which was published in the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0385343760/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0385343760&linkCode=as2&tag=jamesclear-20&linkId=PCSJSMZDHNF6NMTL


I awake at 5:30, work until 8:00, eat breakfast at home, work until 10:00, walk a few blocks into town, do errands, go to the nearby municipal swimming pool, which I have all to myself, and swim for half an hour, return home at 11:45, read the mail, eat lunch at noon. In the afternoon I do schoolwork, either teach of prepare. When I get home from school at about 5:30, I numb my twanging intellect with several belts of Scotch and water ($5.00/fifth at the State Liquor store, the only liquor store in town. There are loads of bars, though.), cook supper, read and listen to jazz (lots of good music on the radio here), slip off to sleep at ten. I do pushups and sit ups all the time, and feel as though I am getting lean and sinewy, but maybe not." [1]

[1] http://jamesclear.com/daily-routines-writers

As a Writer: Question Three

Where do you like to write? Where can you find the most peace without any distractions?

--Bedroom

--Living room

--An Office

--The Beach

--A Coffee Shop

--At School (College)

--A Workplace

--Backyard, A Park, Somewhere outdoors

--other ____________

Reasoning: As writers, we can either write anywhere, or only somewhere. Personally, I can write anywhere. I get more writing down however, when I write at work, I get more down. I have less distractions, no TV, no video games, no dog, no cellphone. Pick a place that you are comfortable with, that yes, have no distractions. I know a lot writers who write outside of their house because they are more productive. A colleague of mine likes to write at a coffee shop, she says the strangers (customers) give her inspiration. When she writing a character, the character may say something she overhears, or how a stranger is dressed might bleed onto the page. Another colleague doesn’t leave her house. She likes to write in her room. So, whatever works with you, Do it!

E.B. White: “In an interview with The Paris Review, E.B. White, the famous author of Charlotte's Web, talked about his daily writing routine…

I never listen to music when I’m working. I haven’t that kind of attentiveness, and I wouldn’t like it at all. On the other hand, I’m able to work fairly well among ordinary distractions. My house has a living room that is at the core of everything that goes on: it is a passageway to the cellar, to the kitchen, to the closet where the phone lives. There’s a lot of traffic. But it’s a bright, cheerful room, and I often use it as a room to write in, despite the carnival that is going on all around me.

In consequence, the members of my household never pay the slightest attention to my being a writing man — they make all the noise and fuss they want to. If I get sick of it, I have places I can go. A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” [1]


[1] http://jamesclear.com/daily-routines-writers

As a Writer: Question Four

How? With what?

--Pen & Paper

--Keyboard and Computer Screen

--Tiny Notebooks

--A Typewriter

--A recorder

--A phone memo pad

--Napkins

--Index cards

--Fridge and the tiny word magnets

--other ____________

Reasoning: I had a professor that liked to write with his daughter, poetry to be exact. He found it interesting writing with a three-year-old because of her juxtaposition of syntax and language. He then wrote it down in tiny notebooks. He literally had over 100 of these little notebooks you get at staples in bulk. He would write fragments, words he liked, poems he wrote with his daughter, and any thought that came to mind. He started them when he was in college himself. He admitted to hardly every finishing poems. He doesn’t like the poetry inside of him to end. I know, long story, but he kept to this way of writing for over a decade. It helped him write, by these little notebooks.

While taking one of his classes, he gave us each one. There was about 18 of us students. We would write a minimum of two pages in them every week to only pass them to another student we haven’t exchanged with. We would then build off what the student wrote before us. It was interesting for me because I never use these notebooks, in truth I disliked them very much.

My point is to use whatever makes you a better writer. I like using index cards as flash cards for my characters. I carry them with me wherever I go. I also like using journals with no lines in order to write. I feel like lines on a page restrict my imaginative flow. The colleague who likes to write in her bedroom only likes to write on a computer, hates long hand. Some smart people say long hand facilitates imagination. A cold and heartless computer screen will inhibit the imagination to some degree. My suggestion is to do whatever feels right to you. Write in a notebook for a week, switch to computer for another, try index cards for the third, the fridge magnets for the fourth, and so on. Experiment. Until you find one that works.

As a Writer: Question Five

Who?

--Do you like to do your own writing?

--Or have someone write for you while they listen to you?

--other ____________

Reasoning: My brother who is not the greatest writer, would always have me help him with his writing classes. I would write down what my brother said while pacing back in forth in the living room. He didn’t have the most organized ideas, so I would simply organize them as I went. Another example is my grandmother. She held onto a story for almost 20 years. She got a judge fired, three lawyers fired, and it was all true. A true story waiting to be put on a page. I would listen to my grandma for hours. She used to take care of a family, she was a nutritionist for the city. One of her jobs was getting the four farms to install electricity back in the 70s. She helped this family until all of them died in the early 2000s. She was the main benefactor to their farm and money. A niece wanted the half a million her uncle died with. Also, the amount the farm was worth when selling it. Long story short, I am in the process of writing this great novel for my grandmother, hopefully she can read it soon. Every great story comes from every person in this great world. If you can’t get it out by yourself, let someone write it for you. If you can write it yourself then Do it!

As a Writer: Question Six

What type of genre do you like writing?

--Fiction

--Nonfiction

--Poetry

--Writing prompts

--Blogs

--other ____________

Reasoning: Each writer has a particular genre they like writing. I prefer fiction and sub-genre of fantasy. I can get lost in a new world I created. One of my colleague likes to write short stories in fiction, mostly literary fiction. Another one only writes poetry but also likes to write nonfiction (except her nonfiction short stories has lots of lyricism from her poetry roots). I would suggest to really hone your particular genre before exploring other genres.

Check out my other blogs on “Do you know your genres?” If you need references on what genre you write. It is always great to identify to a genre you are the best writing because that genre is where your roots start.

Famous authors who made genre jumps after they were famous for particular writing styles and genres.

1. E.B. White

And how about this odd intersection – children’s literature and… a handbook of grammar and style? Until 1959, E.B. White was known primarily for the beloved children’s books Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web – but then he turned up an obscure 1918 style guide written by a former professor of his, William Strunk Jr., and at the request of his publisher edited and revised it. This new edition of The Elements of Style became the classic reference work on the subject of clear writing, and permanently earned him a place in the minds of millions of college students as the White of “Strunk and White.”[1]

2. Stephen King

Milne wasn’t the only author from another genre to dabble successfully in crime fiction. No less a literary titan than Stephen King – best known, of course, for his best-selling works of horror, such as The Stand and The Shining and It (among many, many others) — is also the man behind the prison stories “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” (shortened for the classic movie to just The Shawshank Redemption) and The Green Mile. Not to mention his own Hard Case Crime novel, The Colorado Kid, which inspired the TV series Haven, now entering its third season. In recognition of his work as a crime writer, the Mystery Writers of America named King a Grandmaster in 2007. [2]

3. Philip Roth

Also winning raves for crossing from literary to science fiction: Philip Roth, legendary author of Portnoy’s Complaint and two dozen other novels that have won him every major award for fiction and made him a perennial contender for the Nobel Prize. In 2004, Roth took his first stab at the branch of science fiction known as “alternate history,” asking how America might have turned out if the anti-Semitic American hero Charles Lindbergh had been elected president. The result? A non-aggression pacts with Hitler, martial law in the US, and – for Roth’s readers – a powerful “Could it happen here?” thought experiment of the sort usually reserved for the pages of science fiction magazines. [3]


[1] http://flavorwire.com/275163/10-famous-authors-who-made-very-unlikely-genre-jumps/3

[2] http://flavorwire.com/275163/10-famous-authors-who-made-very-unlikely-genre-jumps/5

[3] http://flavorwire.com/275163/10-famous-authors-who-made-very-unlikely-genre-jumps/9


As a Writer: Question Seven

Why? What Motivates you to write?

--To read?

--To imagine?

--To dream?

--other ____________

Reasoning: Something as a writer should motivate you write, to keep your day job, to have fallen in love with writing in the first place. I was born a pixie girl. I see magic in words. In characters. In made up worlds. With made up drama reflecting my own. Growing up in the heart of writing in Iowa, teachers constantly encouraged us students to write. It didn’t really make an influence until I was in eighth grade. Where writing took my pain away, and I could live another hundred lives that weren't my own. That is where I started. And I wonder where I will finish. But all I know right now is 26 letters can describe any and all stories I want to tell that's floating around inside of my pixie soul.

An interview with Lorrie Moore with Paris Review:

INTERVIEWER

What in your childhood do you believe contributed to your becoming a writer?

LORRIE MOORE

There was the usual dreaminess, I suppose. Also a shyness that caused me—and others—to notice that I could express myself better by writing than by speaking. This is typical of many writers, I think. What is a drawback in childhood is an asset to a literary life. Not being fluent on one’s feet sends one to the page and a habit is born. In addition to the predictable love of books, I was also quite captivated by the theater when I was a child—as much as I could be, given where I was growing up, a tiny town in the Adirondack foothills. My parents were members of an amateur operetta club, which put on musicals as well as straight plays, and from a very early age I was brought to watch the rehearsals on Sunday afternoons (the actual evening productions were past my bedtime). And when I think about it now, those Sunday afternoons of watching grown-ups put on plays—watching them fall in and out of character or burst into song or laughter—were probably the most enchanted and culturally formative moments of my childhood. (I attempted to use a bit of this in one of the stories in Self-Help.) I would sit there, fantastically engaged—gripped, really—while someone who was ordinarily the postman, say, or the office manager at GE, came out and danced something wild from Pajama Game. And watching it all—from the time I was about three or four—I became if not stage-struck, then theater-struck, or art-struck. Something-struck. For my parents, it may all have been a cheap form of baby-sitting, I don’t know, but it was enthralling for me. Looking back, I now suspect that bit of early theater-going is still at the heart of what I think is interesting and powerful narratively. I suspect that love of theater—and that condition, however thrilling, of forever being in the audience—is part of the pulse of everything I’ve written. [1]

I encourage to look at the interviews on Paris Review of your favorite authors and past time authors you have read in school. It will give a new perspective and influence on your own writing guaranteed.

[1] https://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/510/lorrie-moore-the-art-of-fiction-no-167-lorrie-moore

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