Historical fiction writer Susanna Fraser describes in a recent post some of her qualms about switching to Scrivener¬†as a writing platform. It’s an excellent posting that sheds some light on her writing process.

A thought-provoking question comes at the end of her post:
“I wonder how much you can really force your process in a direction that’s unnatural for you?” she asks. Making me realize that although I’m typing this on a computer, using Markdown in a plain-text editor for the little formatting I need, first drafts of my fictional work are all done with pencil on paper.

So, How far can I force my own process? For first drafts, it seems, only about as far as I could throw my pencil.

Are you actually ‘writing’ ?

I guess it’s time to mention that wasting time is a matter of discipline: “Is this research, or pud-pullng?” *

You know, writers aren’t forced to waste time, but we must be aware of the difference between actual research and plain old entertainment. We must also be alert for a terrifying realization that goes something like this: “Jeebus, this arcane essay about Hamilton’s hat size is so much more interesting than my own story!” At which point that writer might want to reassess his commitment to the craft.

So Yes, reading up on hemp-growing by the Founding Fathers (a hot topic these days on the history sites) might be research. But, well, you know what I mean.

* Excess-italic alert!

Writing machine fail

I’d like to report that my lovely three-month-old computer is only diseased, but it is in fact deceased. I believe it’s the logic board rather than the HD, but I have all my writing redundantly backed up in any case.

This morning I’m off to the service wizards, where I do more pencil-on-paper drafts as I wait for my appointment with destiny.

Loud room, quiet room

I’ve been rethinking something that Haley Whitehall tweeted to me a couple of weeks ago. I had told her that I couldn’t have music going while I was writing. “I can’t bear to have a quiet room”, she replied.

I didn’t give it much thought. But her next words–“I just tune it out most of the time”–reminded me that that is exactly what I do when I’m ‘out’ writing in a coffee house, or (yes) doing that #pubwrite thing: I tune it out.

The tuning out allows me–forces me?–to concentrate on writing in a way that doesn’t work in a quiet home. Here, I have laundry, dishes, prepping dinner. To say nothing of the cats.

So I’m going to give it a try. I’ll start with some Gotan Project, or maybe the Modern Mandolin Quartet, and see what happens. Bonus: It will keep the cats at bay.