Tweet 7 Habits of Serious Writers, I couldn't help but write a post about my own habits.
I've been writing since I can remember, and I've been writing regularly since I did a creative writing course when I was sixteen. However, it's only really been over the past couple of years that I've written with any serious intent. As a result, I actually write on a daily basis. I'm either working on flashes, stories I intend to submit, or something longer - at the moment, it's a novella. Some days, I might not actually add to the word count of the project, but I'll be brainstorming ideas around it, or working on plot problems. I'm also inherently competitive, so I find the vaguely obsessive-compulsive need to have a full scorecard on 750words.com impels me to write daily, too.
Working with personal flaws
I have the attention span of a toddler so it's all too easy for me to get distracted. Maybe I'll log into Twitter "just to see what's going on" and I'll end up getting involved in a lengthy and enjoyable conversation. Some of the games on Facebook are dangerously addictive. Having said that, if I get an idea for a story and I decide to just "jot bits down", I often find I get so wrapped up in jotting things down as they come to me that I end up writing something anyway. In a peculiar kind of way, I distract myself from the idea of writing with the need to preserve the story as it comes to me.
I make a point of reading both fiction and non-fiction. There's always a book in my bag - at the moment, it's a book about the American West, but I'm also reading a book about quantum mechanics, as well as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I tend to read a lot of historical NF (which informs my historical fiction) but I like to read the works of other writers too. Sometimes I'm trying to get a feel for a genre, sometimes I'm curious how other writers structure their novels, and sometimes I just want to be entertained. Every now and then, I also read books on the craft of writing - I personally enjoy James Scott Bell's books - although I tend to prefer blogs about writing as it feels like less of a slog to get through them.
Work can always be better
I never post the first draft of anything. Whatever you see on here will have always been redrafted at least twice before I paste it into Blogspot, and sometimes it'll be tweaked even before I hit 'Publish Post'. My first drafts are often terrible - my novella is an absolute mess, but since I know what I need to do with it, I'm still quite proud of it. However, I know that redrafting is almost as important to the process as the initial writing, so I might leave a piece for a few days, or a couple of weeks, before I go back and cast fresh eyes over it.
Getting my work out there
I write for three reasons. First and foremost - it never occurred to me not to do so. I've written from the time I was able to form letters with crayons - I asked my mother, and she can't remember a time when I wasn't scribbling down a story, or bashing one out on her old typewriter. Writing is a lot like eating or walking - it's just something I do. Secondly, I enjoy telling stories. It's fun. Thirdly, I want to entertain. Not a particularly lofty goal, but I'm a big believer in escapism, so if I can provide someone with the means to escape the drudgery of their everyday life, then I consider my job done. As a result, I provide my weekly Friday flashes, and I have two e-books available. I submit my work to anthologies, and I'm working on novels. It's all about getting the work out there.
Thinking about it
Even when I'm not writing, I'm thinking about my work in progress, or the next flash. I've started outlining my flashes so I can take a handful of sentences scrawled in my notebook and flesh them out into the stories I post every week. I'm constantly going over the plot points or characters in my novella, asking myself what a character's motivation might be, or what might cause them to behave in a particular way. If it doesn't sit right with me, I change it - because chances are, if something doesn't ring true with me, it won't ring true with a reader. It is the writer's job to communicate the story properly, and it's a job I intend to do well.
These are my habits. What are yours?