Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Whatever works

Do you sometimes change your work habits, or is it better to keep things consistent? 

by Dietrich

I write every day. I get up early and work until noon. That’s when my best stuff comes. In the afternoon, I like to go for long walks through the woods or along the ocean, five or six miles usually. The exercise and the connection with nature helps keep me sharp. 

When I complete a draft, I step back from it for a few days, sometimes switching to another project. So, while I do have daily writing habits that work for me, I’m open to new ways to change things up to keep from falling in the ruts. 

Like most people, I sometimes find myself rolling with life’s punches, having to deal with whatever it may be. One habit that works, I manage to set real life aside, getting myself into a mind frame where I can give my writing one-hundred percent. And I’ve got a great studio set up with a nice view of a forest. A private place where I can get some writing done. I play music to help get in the zone and to tune out the white noise of day to day living in the city. Music helps me to crank out the day’s pages no matter what’s going on around me.

Another habit, I like to pen my first drafts. It gives me a nice contact with the story. Second drafts get typed on a computer. It’s far easier and neater to edit this way. And it’s a breeze to look up facts while I’m at it, although there is social media to deal with, discipline versus temptation.

When I’m working on a story, I avoid catching the news or anything else that’s negative or depressing. Let’s face it, the papers and newscasts are full of that. And even when I don’t catch it, I still find out what’s in the news, because someone’s always eager to share what’s going on. And yet, there are those nuggets in the news that sometimes trigger story ideas.

I also like to keep a notepad handy, jotting down anything I can use later in a story. Ideas come to me at the oddest time, and if I don’t write it down right away, it will likely be gone.

Usually, I read a book or more a week, and I’m also a bit of a film junkie. There’s just a lot of good storytelling out there. And I love other art forms, studying paintings, photography and sculpture. Attending concerts and performance arts.

I’ve often been curious about the writing habits of those whose work I’ve admired through the years. The ones who drank away the days and wrote through the nights. Others who drank at night and wrote during the days. The ones who wrote standing, the ones lying down. Some faced walls, some wrote naked. The ones who wrote in crowded places, others in isolation. Most of that wouldn’t work for me, but I think it’s important to find and adapt whatever does work best for each of us.


Susan C Shea said...

Dietrich, you write an entire novel in longhand? I find that almost as amazing as if you'd said you write it under water! Maybe you have an easier 'hand.' My penmanship is awkward and difficult - writing birthday cards without cross-outs is tough for me. But I know from writing grocery lists and phone messages that writing actually installs the information in my brain, so there's a benefit in there somewhere.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

I do it with lots of crosscuts, crumpled pages, and sometimes after several pages it gets hard to read my own writing, but there's still something I like about it.