Writing Rituals

When do you write? (time of day, day of week.)

Every weekday morning I get up with my wife and see her off to work. Next I grab a cup of coffee and sit myself in front of the computer. Writing takes second place as I busy myself with reading the news, other blog posts and visiting Facebook, in that order. Finally, I will write at least 100 word to begin the day. On the weekend, my schedule varies according to what else might be happening that I want to take part in.

How do you seclude yourself from the outside world?

Seclusion isn’t a need for me and write. I could be in the middle of a Los Angeles Freeway and still manage to put words down on paper. Otherwise, I spend 12-to-14 hours a day, Monday-through-Friday by myself with only our dog’s as company. From time-to-time a neighbor or a friend will stop by for a chat and a cup of coffee. Finally, I like my company so I find I’m never really alone.

How do you review what you wrote the previous day?

Much of my act is a formula. I write once, then edit again and again until I’m satisfied I have down what I want to say. So there is no ‘previous day’ for me as a rule. That isn’t to say upon reviewing something I wrote a year or two ago, that I won’t edit it again or three-times because my skill as a write has changed.

What song is your go-to when you’re feeling uninspired?

Rarely do I listen to music when I’m writing. Music is a love of mine and prefer to listen to it unencumbered. I do have my favorite genre which will give me a sense of feeling that I need to maintain when I am pursuing a story, i.e. cowboy music if I’m writing a ‘western-style’ story.

What do you always do (i.e. listen to music, read, watch YouTube, etc.) when you find yourself struggling with writer’s block?

Writer’s block is a pain in the arse, isn’t? I usually walk away for an hour or two when it happens and find something else to do. If it is persistent, I’ll grab a book and read for a while, maybe watch something on the tube (I like true crime solving shows,) or I’ll peruse the blogosphere, (a good source is WordPress Discover.)

What tools do you use when you’re writing?

Before the advent of online services, my desk would be covered with piles of notes, one or two dictionaries (including a large rhyming dictionary) and a thesaurus. Somewhere close by were a set of encyclopedias and an almanac with maps. Today, aside from general clutter of notebooks I use in the field, the world is at my finger-tips using ‘Google.’ Lastly, some of whatever I read, see, hear, feel, learn or experience will end up in a story and because of this, unless it’s pointed out to me, I have been known to accidentally steal stuff from other writers. (Do you hear that Mr. Twain?!)

What’s the one thing you can’t live without during a writing session?

That first cup of coffee. Need I say more? Didn’t think so.

How do you fuel yourself during your writing session?

Since the majority of my writing takes place between 4 am and noon, I generally don’t eat until afterwards. Since childhood, I’ve never been a big fan of breakfast. But that’s not to say I don’t enjoy a breakfast meal for dinner. One cannot get any better than that in my humble opinion.

How do you know when you’re done writing?

Oh, I’m never done writing. I’ve been writing since I was nine-years-old and it has become like second nature. One time I forgot to pack a note-book while on a cross-country road trip and because my folks were in a hurry to get where we were going, they wouldn’t stop, save for gassing up the car or a potty break. During one potty break I stole two rolls of toilet paper from the stall and scrounged a pen from under the drivers’ seat. I still feel bad for the person who followed me after I left that restroom.

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Published by

Tom Darby

Former radio personality and newspaper reporter

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