Seed Lines and Other Writing Habits

Writing habits are like tattoos; it’s a pain in the ass to try to explain either. (Paraphrased and repurposed from the great Carrie Brownstein).

A friend and I were comparing writing styles a while ago, and by the end of our conversation it became very clear that we approached writing in very different ways. In fact, the more I talk to other people about writing, the more it seems that most writers have little in common when it comes to getting pen to paper (proverbially speaking, save for those few souls who go for it old school).

With all that in mind, here are some of my own writing habits:

Most of my writing occurs at 3 a.m. The temporal area surrounding 3 a.m., at least for me, is just perfectly suited to writing. And the more desperately I need to sleep when 3 a.m. comes around, the more likely it is that I’ll be drawn into writing something.

I used to never go back and revise my work. Now I’ll almost obsessively revise things; the changes generally aren’t major, but I’m the first one to admit that correct preposition usage often escapes me.

More often than not, I won’t be able to start writing a piece unless I’ve given it a title first. (Fact: I have at least 3 drafts in my post list right now that are just titles and tags.) The one exception: that WIP poetry piece.

After I’ve come up with a title, I’ll generally have a “seed line” from which the rest of the writing piece germinates. I’ll try and include these in my future writing posts since they usually pop up pretty far into the actual end result, and it’s always interesting to see where things come from.

My favorite method of listing seed lines: Evernote, bitches. And voice memos, but that’s more pertinent when it’s a piece of music that I’ve got stuck in my head.

I like no, tend, to write really, really long sentences. Clauses are my friends!!!

I’ll occasionally slip colloquial shit in my writing, since I’m moving to make my speaking and writing patterns less dissimilar. And in case it’s not obvious, I’m rather fond of using expletives.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that a writer can only improve his or her writing by reading voraciously. Alas, I’d been slacking in both categories until recently. I hope never to drop either hobby again.

It’s really easy for me to switch writing voices, but my default and thus most personally accurate voice is, well, you can read it in pretty much any entry on this blog.

I really don’t write a lot of long, narrative fiction. Then the times I do come up with a fiction plot, I’ll have a title (of course) and a rough graf of the piece, but nothing else to go on. To writ, I’ve got an active fantasy “5 on a mission” style wartime drama, a male/female dueling protagonists storyline, and a miserable romance all tucked into my head. The likelihood of any of those plots getting filled out is… very unlikely. I think this aversion to full on fictional storytelling, or most long form writing in general, came about because in middle school, I used to churn out endless words (almost wrote copy, whoops)–including rambling fictional narratives–in these journals called “life books” as part of a stupid “how many books can you fill up” competition against another friend of mine. He’s pre-med now, and could give less than a damn about writing.

I like quippy shit, stuff that can be read out of context and still comes across as clever, smart, witty, you know the like. Oscar Wilde-isms, so to speak. My personal favorite one-liner (it’s a bit filthy, for those of you who are sensitive to that kind of thing): “She’s a cunt, he’s a dick… they’re made for each other.”

Long live the Oxford comma! Really though, it mirrors a natural speaking pause, and it makes more sense from a listing perspective too, especially if one of your listed subjects is linked by a conjunction.

I’ll probably add onto this as I think of things. Oh yay!!!

(Image: Contemporaneos by Alicia Martin, via razorshapes)

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2 thoughts on “Seed Lines and Other Writing Habits

  1. Menand told me once that his prime writing always happened between the hours of 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., which was unfortunate since those were the hours when he’d be in transit going home from work. 3 a.m. sounds about right, though, for the college age writer.

    • The weird thing is that it’s not the 3 a.m. time that’s perfect for writing, it’s the idea of the hour itself. Right when I landed in the Jerz, I felt the urge to write at 3 a.m. EST, which was still midnight to my body. And then right when I got back from the Jerz, I didn’t feel the urge to write until 3 a.m. PST, which still felt like 6 a.m. EST to my body. Basically, /big shrug/

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