Becca started a terrific meme at Write on Wednesday: The Writing Style Meme. In honor of the beginning of the school year and, for those of us no longer in school, memories of “shiny new notebooks and pens,” she invited readers to “take out a fresh sheet of paper” and answer a series of questions about their writing style.
It looked like so much fun, I decided to participate and encourage all of you to do the same. As Becca explained, “completed assignments may be posted on your blog, or in the comments below.” If you do post your response on your own site, please be sure to leave the link in a comment so that we can all read your responses and compare them to our own.
1. Do you write fiction or non-fiction? Or both?
2. Do you keep a journal or a writing notebook?
No. I maintained a journal in high school, but destroyed it a few years later. I wrote a fairly extensive pregnancy journal for my first son and his baby book is pretty much complete. Unfortunately, my second child’s pregnancy journal has few entries and, aside from noting some of his most important milestones (first tooth, first step, first haircut, etc.), his baby book remains largely unfinished.
“Second child baby book syndrome” is a real phenomenon. I gave my mother a lot of grief when she gave me my baby book — virtually blank with a large pile of greeting and note cards, along with a few snapshots, secured on top of it with a rubber band. In contrast, my sister’s was filled with remembrances and photos. But we moved from South Dakota to California when I was only six months old and within a year or so of arriving here, they designed, oversaw the construction of, and performed all of the finishing work (painting, varnishing, etc.) on their own home (in which I now live). There simply wasn’t time to complete a baby book, as I discovered when I gave birth to my second child halfway through law school.
Blogging is as close to journaling as I get these days.
3. If you write fiction, do you know your characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts before you start writing or is that something else you discover only after you start writing? Do you find books on plotting useful or harmful?
4. Are you a procrastinator or does the itch to write keep at you until you sit down and work?
I am a procrastinator with regard to actually typing the words. But I think extensively about what I am going to write — and often create and edit several drafts in my head — before I sit down at the keyboard. So once I finally put my fingers on the keys, the words come quickly and not much time elapses before the work is complete.
5. Do you write in short bursts of creative energy, or can you sit down and write for hours at a time?
It depends on what kind of writing I am doing. Professionally, I have written for days on end in order to complete significant projects such as dispositive motions or appellate briefs. The kind of writing I do online is far different and tends to be completed quickly once I decide on the topic, tone, and direction the piece will take.
6. Are you a morning or afternoon writer?
When my boys were young, I used to set my alarm clock and get up at 3:00 – 4:00 a.m. to complete motions and briefs while they slept because it is often impossible to write without interruption in the office. BigBob would be at work and I would work furiously to finish writing before getting them up and off to school, emailing the finished product to my secretary to format, finalize, and file with the court when she arrived at work in the morning. In recent years, I’ve completed some major writing projects by telecommuting — working at home rather than in the office and reverted to my true nature: I’m a creature of the night. I frequently hit “publish” just as The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson is ending at 1:00 a.m.
7. Do you write with music/the noise of children/in a cafe or other public setting, or do you need complete silence to concentrate?
When I am in the office, there is music playing all day. Usually smooth jazz or classical. Here at home, I have my parents’ 25″ RCA XL-100 television that they purchased in 1977 to keep me company. And the first thing I do when I check into a hotel is turn on the television and it usually remains on for the duration of my stay just for background noise.
8. Computer or longhand? (or typewriter?)
Always a computer.
9. Do you know the ending before you type Chapter One? Or do you let the story evolve as you write?
10. Does what’s selling in the market influence how and what you write?
Only if that is what I’m writing about, as in when I wrote a two-part article about O.J. Simpson’s ghostwriter.
11. Editing/Revision – love it or hate it?
Love it. Most of the time, I have drafted and edited in my head before actually typing the words. But I am always eager to improve my written product and, in fact, sometimes go back and edit pieces I wrote several years earlier.