Confessions of an Ascetic Writer

— October 26, 2011 (15 comments)
My previous confession proved to me I'm not alone in these things, and I know ascetic writers are more common than analytical ones. But still, I feel the need to confess...

I can't listen to music while I write. If there are words, I sing them (and sometimes type them -- seriously!). If there are no words, I still get caught up in the story the music is telling, and it becomes impossible to tell my own.

Sometimes I can edit with music, but even then, if I listen to an epic song during a soft moment, it severely skews how I revise the scene.

I can't eat snacks while I write. I end up eating them all in the first twenty minutes and not writing anything. Then I get gunk on my keyboard.

I can't drink while I write. It makes me have to get up and pee every fifteen minutes. (I don't understand it either. I drink just as much the rest of the day and only go every few hours. It's only when I have to write.)

I can't be near a window. Because then I stare outside at the neighbors and the gardeners and even the stinking DOGS that walk by.

But the worst thing is, I can't write in the same place with nothing to look at, nothing to drink, nothing to snack on, and nothing to listen to but the ceiling fan. I get bored and start to dread my writing time.

Seriously, I don't know how I ever get anything done.

How do you write? What do you need to be productive?

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  1. I must have missed your previous post, but I'm very similar. I can't write with music, or food, but I do drink.

    However, more often than not, I write at work, in my cubicle, with lots of distractions, because I far prefer a desktop with a big clicky keyboard, than trying to type on a tiny laptop.

  2. Haha, I'm so with you on this. Only difference is I need a window or I feel claustrophobic. Nature distracts me just enough to keep me from getting antsy, but it's boring enough to help me get back to the writing. When I write. Which I haven't been doing. Well I did yesterday, but that's an anomoly.

  3. I have a hard time writing to music usually, but some of my best scenes have come to songs on repetition (the one that immediately pops to mind is an incarceration/psychological torture scene in Kissing Dragons written while listening to Shinedown's Sound of Madness). Food, beverages... only during breaks. What I really need to figure out is how to disconnect from the internet :)

  4. Ha! My worse distraction is the internet - the open window's got nothing on that.

    And I only listen to music to drown out the random noises of kids/TV (when someone else is in charge of watching all that and I'm trying to write). A sudden burst of laughter from the other room is FAR more distracting to me that just about anything else.

    But I always have tea. :)

  5. I'm a little less ascetic. I can have music on, thank goodness, and a window that looks onto nature is an asset. But please! no TV of any kind!
    A latte is also nice, but I often forget to drink it...

  6. (BTW, I know how to spell anomaly. Thank you all for overlooking the typo. :)

  7. I think I need just need a high level of inspiration to write. I know I've written on the noisy crowded bus, while the TV is on, during jury duty, *ehem* during class, and while forgetting to eat my dinner before when I am burried deeply enough in the throws of a story. But when that divine inspiration isn't quite there . . . anything can be a distraction. Noise. The lack of noise. Hunger. Food. A chai late`. It has more to do with my state of being than my actual surroundings. Sometimes that's something I can do something about and sometimes I just have to decide to force out words one grueling sentence at a time.

  8. I can't really answer how I write. Sometimes it happens, other times it doesn't, like great love-making.

  9. I can not write and listen to music with words. I will get the song going and singing and then I'm up dancing before I realize it. But I have a tiny desk so I'm limited on the snacks and drinks so I tend to have those for those long moments of letting my thoughts float out from my fingers and into the story.

  10. I can't write with music on, even though I've had music inspire scenes or characters. But I can tune out the TV entirely. Unless it's a music show of some kind. :)

    And my characters don't talk to me, either. But I find the idea fascinating.

  11. Can't write with music on ... but oddly enough can paint and draw to music.

  12. Oh, interesting!

    I look forward to my afternoon writing time when my girls are napping because that's when I drink my one Dr. Pepper of the day. Sort of a treat to get me going and a caffeine jump start to get my brain going. :)


  13. Coffee, tea, quiet, and laptop - in my writing spot, surrounded by books, photos, and writing tools.

    I like to write in the morning, but I try to be flexible.

  14. God, but you are funny! I can listen to music, but I usually don't, and I can only listen to classical.

    I'm with you on the snacking--I scarf it all down and then have greasy or sticky keys. Blah.

  15. I'm like you - music distracts me and so does the internet, and snacks. I do need something to drink and a quiet place. But, I get bored with the quiet so I've been listening to music on really low volume. It actually works out OK because I can tune it out and focus on the story, but then the music is there when I'm in between thoughts. I also tend to lose track of time and forget to eat sometimes.