Monday, March 10, 2008

Method to the Madness

In a creative writing course I took years ago, a student asked, "What's the best way to write?" I don't remember the answer, but I remember the instructor telling us that their particular method was the correct way to do it. I thought that that sounded rather absurd.

Writing can be a very individual thing. Everyone has their own writing habits and routines. I almost always have to write my first draft in long hand (or at least on my typewriter). I think that there's something so satisfying about seeing the words on the page as opposed to a monitor. As far as where, I usually work best in a café, bookstore or anywhere where there is some daily activity going on, although other times I need the peace and quiet.

Here are some of the writing habits of some well known writers:

Stephen King:
  • Writes approximately 10 pages a day
  • Writes first in long-hand
Truman Capote
  • Wrote lying down
  • Drafts were written on yellow paper
Emily Dickinson
  • After she died, most of her work was found on the back of envelopes, grocery bills, or scraps of paper.
Dennis Lehane
  • Said that he sometimes gets his ideas when walking his dogs
  • Writes either early in the morning and/or late at night
Danielle Steele
  • Puts in 18-hour days
  • Uses a 1946 Olympia manual typewriter
As you can see from just the small sampling, everyone has their own method to their madness, so to speak. What writing habits do you have? Do you write with a particular pen? Where and when do you like to write? And remember, despite what that writing teacher said, there is no wrong answer.

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