Shauna’s Writing Rituals

Here we are, the fourth week of learning the Spellbound Scribes’ writing rituals and/or routines. Learning a lot about us, huh? We’re all pretty much shattering the glamorous façade of what a writer really is, aren’t we? Well, that’s okay, hopefully it gives you hope that you’re on the right track if you want to be a writer too.

So now it’s my turn. I’m gonna give you the run down based on what I do when I start a brand new project. This is also based on working from home, full time at writing. When I had an office job and access to my personal email I would just steal writing time. Basically I wouldn’t take my two 15 minute brakes and lump that time into my lunch hour and force out the words during that time to reach my daily goals. Now things are entirely different. Here goes…

Day one

Wake with the dogs around 7 am (earlier if hubs has an early morning client). Put on pants, don’t bother changing t-shirt I slept in, and take dogs for their morning walk.

Sit down at laptop and check book reports on various sites, catch up on Twitter, check email, check Facebook pages, check Kindleboards.

Accept coffee from hubs. Check everything I already checked one more time. Go make breakfast.

Wander into office and sit down at desk.

Open Pandora and spend way too much time perfecting a soundtrack to write to. Glance at clock and realize it is lunch time. Go make lunch, watch some TV with hubs while we eat. Take dogs for second walk.

Back online checking everything again – contribute to social networking. Decide soundtrack is good, call it a day.

Day two

Repeat day one up until sitting at desk. Turn on Pandora station for new project. Turn on TV and put on mindless sitcom reruns (unless it’s that magical time that ABCfamily is playing four days of Harry Potter…). I need noise to drown out dogs, hubs and clients, neighbors and traffic.

Open brand new word doc. Stare at screen.

Stare at screen s’more.

Decide I need to put on real clothes, flat iron hair and put on some make up to feel human again.

Sit back down at desk. Wait for narrator to start talking to me. Once she does, pound out a few hundred words (probably 250-500), then check social media sites again, edit Pandora play list, kill 30 minutes. Go back to document and pound out the remaining words until I reach a minimum of 1000 words (keep going if I have the momentum). Go back to internet.

Lunch/TV/Dog break.

Back to desk, listen for narrator. If she’s still speaking to me that day I continue on until I find a natural stopping point (note, this could be in the middle of a big, exciting scene, so that when I come back tomorrow I don’t have to sit and wait for the narrator to start speaking again).

Realize I haven’t blogged in over a week. Knock out 1-4 blog posts and schedule them.

Back online.

Day three

Repeat day two – still liking and disliking songs on Pandora, getting increasingly angry with Pandora for screwing up my perfect soundtrack.

Day four through sixty-four-ish

Repeat day two – always changing “blogging” for “proofreading previous work” or “editing previous work” or “going over editorial notes on previous work” – just whatever the day calls for. And always screaming at Pandora for playing songs that have nothing to do with my perfect playlist.

That’s basically it. Every day is always different from the others; sometimes I can stay in my PJs all day long, only changing when it’s time to work out, and some days only being in a planned outfit with hair and makeup done will make me feel human. I don’t understand how people use “Freedom” software to turn off their internet while they work. I need these quick little beaks to let an idea or character conversation percolate in the back of my head until it comes to fruition.

I have no magic formula. I just know that I need noise, both with the TV on and the right Pandora station on and a cuppa coffee or water. Also, it’s funny to note that when I was in college I could only write at night (creatively or for school) and would stay up into the morning hours just working away. Now if I don’t hit my stride before lunch I am kicking myself for missing the mark. If that happens I do write in the evening because I have to, have to, get at least 1000 words for the day to feel like I accomplished anything but I prefer to work in the morning now. It’s very weird how we change over time. But the noise factor has never changed.

The music station is especially important for me though because it helps me get back into the right frame of mind no matter where I am. Last year I had jury duty (this is the 2nd time this has happened to me while writing The Elemental Series) and was surrounded by strangers in a hot, packed room. A lot of people would just take this as an excuse not to be able to get into the right frame of mind to create. I didn’t; I just put on my headphones, hunkered down in one of the cubbies I managed to steal before someone else, turned on Pandora and wrote over 4,000 words that day (we were never called to hear a case). Only breaking for lunch in the middle of the day.  So I know the right soundtrack is my special, magic key to writing. If I have to, I can give up everything else, but because I don’t have to, I don’t. It makes me happy to write this way so I do. It gets me through the dreaded first draft.

Oh and bear in mind, I have moved on from the “this sucks! I must edit and go back!” syndrome. You gotta get over that before you’re ever gonna finish anything. The key to my writing routine is… wait for it… wait for it… I write.

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7 thoughts on “Shauna’s Writing Rituals

  1. I’m the same way! I have to find the right music for anything I’m writing or everything else is kaput. I do, also, have to be out of the house. 🙂 It just helps me concentrate.

  2. re: Day One. You wait that long to have coffee??

    As you know from my post, I can’t write to music. I get caught up in the songs and start singing, then typing the lyrics. Sometimes, I end up dancing…so music is a no-go for me! But TV is a YES! Netflix always comes in handy (and the the only thing that works on my tv…no cable). I can watch old shows so I’m not too distracted.

    Other than that, your schedule pretty much sums up mine 🙂

    1. Shauna Granger

      Yeah, really need to get my hubs to be more snappy with the coffee! Lol!

      Oh, I couldn’t give up music. Have you tried lyric-less music? I have a station called “Harry Potter Music” and all it plays are the scores to some awesome movies like Harry Potter, How to Train Your Dragon, LotR, The Last of the Mohicans and others like that. Sometimes when the other stations are sucking, I put that one on.

  3. Haha, I love that writing is such a stop and start process for so many of us. Most people imagine that we sit and the words just pour out. Not so, sadly enough. Although I do know a writer who writes 10k per day at a sitting. All I can say is, HOW?!?!?!?!

    1. Shauna Granger

      I’ve know some who could do that, but not ALL the time, they’d do it for a week or so. But for someone to do it everyday? I am jealous. If I could bang out 10k every day my catalog of books would be huge already and my editor would be rich.

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