This time I would like to discuss ten things that help me write. It is not a complete list, but it is the ten things that first come to mind when I consider my writing process. Hopefully they are things that may help you with your own writing processes if applicable. Please bear in mind that these are in no particular order.
First of all, I’m an addict. Almost all of my mornings start out with Death Wish Coffee. I swear by it. Most of my writing happens either in the morning or late at night prior to going to bed. The coffee jumpstarts me in the morning and keeps me going up until bedtime. I may supplement my morning coffee intake with Starbucks or tea later in the day but the most important drink to me is the morning cup(s) of it. I do not own any stock in the Death Wish Coffee Company or get any kickbacks. However, I do consider myself one of their biggest fans. If you take the time to try it, then I believe that you will be too.
Some authors prefer complete silence when writing. Not me. There have been times when I have created playlists just for the sole purpose of listening to while writing. If I had the resources I would release soundtracks to all of my novels. All of the main characters in my books have a favorite song. For example, Vangetsu loves the song “Fur Elise” by Beethoven partly because the song contains the name of his deceased wife. Jack Crimson loves metal music and is seen wearing an Iron Maiden “Somewhere in Time” t-shirt in Enter the Dark Watchman. Selene used to have a different name until I listened to the song “My Selene” by Sonata Arctica. As I’ve stated in a previous post I also love listening to particularly heavy metal tracks when writing action-packed fight scenes.
History has a way of influencing itself. In my philosophy studies I have noticed that many philosophers talk about their notable influences. This is also a common theme in the film/television industry. I’ve heard director’s commentary where they have discussed the director’s or films that inspired them to take up the trade. In the acknowledgement section of my books I try to take the time to thank certain musicians, directors, authors, etc. who may have influenced my thought process with their various works. A fun fact about Bad Blood Rising is that the part where Vangetsu and friends are making their way up through the building is inspired by The Raid: Redemption.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I love reading. I would not be a writer if it wasn’t for my love of reading. Luckily I have a mother that taught me how to read at a young age and I have kept with it ever since. English was always one of my strongest subjects in school. Most of the books they had me read I enjoyed. There were some that were a struggle mainly because the subject matter didn’t interest me (I’m looking at you Huckleberry Finn and The Old Man and the Sea) but there were others that I loved beyond measure (The Odyssey, Dante’s Inferno, and various Shakespeare). This doesn’t mean that I want to write a book exactly like someone else. If you wanted to read a James Patterson book then I would expect you to pick up a James Patterson book. I encourage other writers to find what voice works best for them but don’t be afraid to be influenced or inspired by the works of others. One of my assignments in high school that I am most proud of is the creative writing paper that we got assigned as a companion to reading The Odyssey. The paper I wrote was a fan-fiction paper that combined the Odyssey with Dragonball Z.
Pets are awesome. One of the crowd favorite characters of Bad Blood Rising is Odin the cat. Pets are good for companionship and de-stressing. There have been times when I am overwhelmed with anxiety and then I spend some time with a pet and almost all of my anxiety passes. My preference for pets is cats and dogs. I love them.
Some people think meditation requires sitting in the lotus position and chanting, “Om”. If this works for you, then keep it up. It doesn’t have to follow those standards though. Meditation can just be thoughtful introspection throughout the day as you go about your daily activities. One of my favorite forms is on days that I don’t have to work at my day job. I can make my morning coffee and look out the window at nature while drinking it. A couple of other frequent times for me to be involved in meditation are while in the shower and when going to bed. I used get extremely anxious when going to bed and it would take me a long time to get to sleep. An old bad habit of mine was when I lying in bed reflecting on the day I would over-analyze every minute detail of my interactions and think about how I could have done them better. By the time I managed to fall asleep I had worked myself into a bout of depression and self-induced anxiety. Luckily, I have managed to re-frame my thinking and am able to reflect objectively.
This is one of the hardest things on the list for me to follow through with. I’m not sure why. After the fact I always feel better about myself and have even more energy than I started with. For some reason I have this mental block about getting started that I turn into a much bigger wall than what it really is. Some of my best ideas have come to me during or after exercise. It is a double-edged sword that as a writer I am content with just sitting in a computer chair for hours on end and just writing while I sip on my coffee or water. Combined with my mostly inactive day job that also requires me to sit in an office chair for hours on end then it really creates an unhealthy combination.
In my opinion the best way to learn how to write human interactions is to experience human interaction. Don’t be afraid to people watch or listen in on conversations. This is not an excuse to go psycho-paparazzi level on fellow human beings but the more inspiration you can pull from the real world then the more realistic your writing will come across. Pay close attention to body language the next time you check out at the grocery or retail store. The world is full of good and evil. In Superman, Jor-El tells Kal-El (aka Superman aka Clark Kent) that humans are a good people, even though we may lack the light to show us the way. Don’t be afraid to let that light come from within and shine for someone else to follow.
Isolation is another important step for me. Recently I bought a pair of noise-cancelling headphones so that I can block out everything else around me and focus on writing when I feel the need to. Life is full of distractions and has a habit of getting out of hand if left to the usual domino effect. One thing leads to another and the next thing you know it is past your bedtime. That is why I included isolation on here. If distractions are a hindrance to your writing ability then noise-cancelling headphones are your best friend.
The final and most important thing on this list is to make sure to actually take the time to write! Don’t be the person that always talks about how they would like to write a novel and then never does anything with that desire. Make writing a goal and stick with it. If you don’t then the only person you can be upset with is yourself. Whether you are the type that takes pen to paper or takes fingers to keyboard just make sure that if you have a burning desire to write then for God’s sake write. Write like your life depends on it. Also, if I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase, “Write what you know.” I would be able to pay off my mortgage. It means well but by itself it comes across as a limiting statement. One might think that they shouldn’t write a scene with cooking or about a character that is a chef if they know nothing about cooking. There is truth to the statement, after all who would be comfortable writing about something they don’t know anything about? However, if you currently know nothing about cooking then watch shows about cooking, read a book, take a class, and above all practice. Turn cooking into something you know and then write about it. Don’t let the phrase limit you. If there is something you have always dreamed of doing then go for it. If it requires a skill you currently aren’t great at then practice it. The best writing practice I’ve found for me is the art of writing.
The link to a new short story is below: