Somewhere in the world, it is still Wednesday, so I’m going to lead with that–this post is for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) hosted on the first Wednesday of each month.
The question for June IWSG is:
Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?
I do not know that I have secrets, and if I do, they’re a secret I’m yet to discover. I have a few quirks as a writer, though, and I’ve never really shared them at one place, so here goes.
I hate all of my writing. I’m the harshest critic there is for my own work. My goal as a writer is to reach a day when I look back at my own work ten years ago and be pleased with it. Unlikely to happen soon.
Most of my writing is done on the keyboard, but I definitely like writing by hand. I have tons of notebooks where I work on the pre-writing of my novels, the first drafts of my flash fiction, or just pour out my angst with the world.
The best places for me to write are food courts, especially near train stations, so I can watch a cross-section of humanity. That has taken a hit recently because in the past few months I’ve seldom stirred about.
Snacking while writing is one of my failings–I try and stock healthy options at home, mostly fruit, yoghurt, granola–but these days I’ve developed an unhealthy addiction to butter.
The theme of all of my writing is injustice, I think–because in my real life too, I’m drawn to protest against what is not right with the world. I’m trying to get to a place of less judgement and more equanimity, but it will take a while.
I steal from everyone. Whether I’ve met you online or off, I’m likely to have whipped off a snippet of your life or your anecdotes and used it in my work–changing names, genders, cultural identities, contexts. This can happen years after we’ve met or spoken, and is mostly subconscious. Once or twice, it has been quite conscious and I have disclosed the theft to the owners. None of them seemed to mind.
So that’s enough about my writing. What about you–what are your writing or reading quirks? Have you shared any of them with the world? What snacks are your favourite, where do you write or read the best?
This post was written for IWSG: Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for organizing and hosting the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) every month!
Go to the site to see the other participants. In this group we writers share tips, self-doubt, insecurities, and of course, discuss the act of writing. If you’re a writer and a blogger, go join rightaway!
The co-hosts today are Pat Garcia, J.Q. Rose, and Natalie Aguirre!. Please go and give their posts some love.
My debut literary crime novel,”You Beneath Your Skin,” published by the fab team at Simon and Schuster IN is available in India here.
Reviews are appreciated–please get in touch if you’d like a review copy.
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Yes, the secrets of writing, I somehow need to be alone, perhaps so I can snack. Oh Damyanti, beware the butter. Since going vegan I can’t indulge and veg spread is not the same. Thankfully as Inhave finally lost weight, but Indonhave my secret chocolate supply, hidden in my laptop case so hubby doesn’t know! He snacks on cakes!
I love your quirks, Damayanti. I currently resort to eating a lot during writing. I am filled with enough snacks that can keep me hunger-free for the whole day or maybe a whole week too. Cheers to us! One of my secret quirk is thinking about a topic for long on my head. I usually do it, but after reading the post by Tony Kent on your blog, I have started to picture a lot about various things. Nice prompt I’d say! 🙂
P.S: Thank you so much for dropping by my new blog! 🙂 Hugs
I tend to write by pencil or pen, then I enter it into the computer later. I find that writing by hand slows me down so the writing is more thoughtful.
Thank you for sharing!.. I just let my fingers do the walking (typing/writing) and my heart do the talking… 🙂
Until we meet again..
May the love that you give
Always return to you,
That family and friends are many
And always remain true,
May your mind only know peace
No suffering or strife,
May your spirit only know happiness
On your journey through life.
(Larry “Dutch” Woller)
We all have our own writing quirks. I have never written at anywhere other than my own home. But yes, observing people when I am outside, brings in some stories and ideas which I make a note of in my phone’s note section and elaborate on it later when I get back home. Some day I would like to try writing in a cafe or something!
Now I’m forced to think about my quirks! 🙂
Dear Damyanti: Your post prompted so many interesting perspectives. One of my secret is to pray and seek wisdom from God before proceeding and I found that the peace that prevails usually lets me think more freely and the words seem to flow without effort….my first book evolved seamlessly in like manner…
Thanks for your comment, Sophia. I’m glad your process was smooth.
Sorry to be so late with this. I’ve just finished YOU BENEATH YOUR SKIN and absolutely loved it. I had a bit of trouble at the beginning getting all the characters straight, but that was more my problem than a problem of the novel. I have to say though once the narrative grabbed me it wouldn’t let go… it was awesome. It’s one of those novels that forces one to think and rethink issues regarding the human condition. You have given me so much to think about. I’m working on my review even as we speak.
Hmm, a secret quirk? The only thing that comes to mind is that I will talk to myself–aloud. Usually when I’m alone. For instance, I walk our black lab twice a day and on occasion I’ll start mulling over a scene I’m working on, and I’ll begin to hear a character’s voice. Then I’ll either answer it as another character, or I’ll become the speaker and before I know it, I’m having a whale of a time.
Sadako, my wife, caught me at this one evening while we were walking Cody together. At first she thought I had taken a phone call, but then she noticed I didn’t have my phone…whoops. “Who are you talking too?” “Eh?”
So I got caught, but she was understanding. She even thought it was kinda cool. “You were shaking your head and everything,” she said.
Thank goodness for writing. I love it. You can be crazy and cool all at the same time. 🙂
Hi Paul, it was very kind of you to read the novel, and thank you so much for your insightful comments. A review would be wonderful–Amazon and Goodreads reviews really help take the book to new readers, and in the case of You Beneath Your Skin, they also help spotlight the causes of women’s rights and acid violence.
I’m glad to know I’m not alone in talking out loud when writing/ pre-writing–only I do it very consciously, channeling myself into a story–I speak aloud the bits I’m stuck at and ask where to go from there and so on. This is not a very regular thing, but not that unusual either 🙂
Hi Damyanti – it’s good you’re still critiquing your writing … but it is pretty good – you do yourself down too much! Loved your book … You Beneath Your Skin … so good … very good: it deserves all the accolades you can get. Yes I remember the butter addiction … how you can write out in the food courts is beyond me … but great you are able to. I can understand your anxiety now with the world as it is … we need hope, love, compassion and collaboration with each other – as we bloggers tend to have – eliminating injustice. Stay safe … Hilary
Thanks for reading You beneath Your Skin, Hilary, and for speaking about it on your blog–that led to a lot of further reads, and reviews!
I keep critiquing my work because I honestly don’t think it is any good, and I want to do better, fail better.
My buttery addiction continues, alas. I really hope our circumstances improve (I’m looking at New Zealand at the moment) soon. Take care, and stay safe!
Having time alone isnt enough for me… I need to be in the zone which involves the emotional mindset for the article or story. I play white noise in the background often, taken from youtube… I find it actually helps.
Yes, Doc Roshan. I find white noise very calming, as well.
Thanks for sharing your secrets.
I have decided to leave butter go from my diet, but shop bought guacamole has come in as a replacement. I too swipe snit bits of my concious world, it its my subconscious looking for congruence, I tell myself. I draw and sketch, to allow ‘bodies’ (ideas) float upfrom the deep, then I write.
I make guacamole at home–in fact you’ve just reminded me to make up a batch :).
I tend to like to eat something crunchy when I’m writing, so I try to keep healthy options around. If I need some sweet, I eat kettle corn–a little sweet, a little salty, and crunchy! A friend of mine calls herself a conversational shoplifter, because she loves to write in public and take ideas from those talking around her.
Need to check out kettle-corn!
Conversational Shoplifter–I love that term.
Butter is a great food. Julia’s career was built on it. As to the secrets…lovely. Watching the cross-section of humanity while creating their story is a perfect strategy.
Yes, I loved that movie, Julie and Julia. :). Thanks for stopping by, Lee. Stay safe.
I love this. Writing secret–I wish I had a good one! I also write many of my first drafts by hand, especially before the pandemic, when I would leave the house to write–just a notebook and pen and a park bench. I might have to take up that practice again!
I miss writing outside! So good to know I’m not the only one writing first drafts by hand.
This thought is good, leaving the house to write. a changed setting usually makes a difference…..
A secret? Nothing juicy from me, I’m afraid. I do eat white chocolate baking bits while writing in the morning. I only write in the morning, between 6:30 and 10:30. Nary a word is written after those hours. 🙂 And beware to anyone I know. You may end up in a novel in the near future, name changed of course.
I have to try white chocolate baking bits!
Everyone I know ends up in my work, but so changed that I sometimes forget who I based the on to start with.
oh how do you get the inspiration flowing so early in the morning Billybuc?
We do tend to pick up a little something from the people we meet and somehow they just find their way into our stories
Interesting perspective Shweta.
Hi Damyanti. That reminds me of the book by Austin Kleon, “Steal Like an Artist” which says we all steal snippets of each other’s work. The best writing secret I have is to do it every day. Even if I’m not at the keyboard, I’m at least doing morning pages, so there’s that.
Pam, I wish I were writing stories everyday, but I do write something everyday.
Lovely response Pam.
Quirks. Is being quirky enough of a quirk?
One quirk comes from my Improv theater background. We’re up on stage with no script, no idea what the other person will say or do. We’re present, in the moment, and we try to abolish thoughts that, irl, project what will happen or what will be said. I start the majority of my writing with an IDEA only. As I go along things take me in directions I only then thought of. I keep moving on, making a mark of some kind that when I do a second draft I incorporated a new idea or character that needed to be introduced earlier. I keep writing until I’m “satisfied.” Once I’m in the midst of things, then I really hunker down with research. A little creeps in at the beginning (names mainly. Names in the majority of my work have very specific meanings to the story).
I’m with you with people watching and writing. I do mine at either a Starbucks or another coffee house that doesn’t make a big deal of “lingering.” I buy an item or three, might get a refill, but watching all these different people come in and out is a referencing ideal. The way they walk, stand, talk to others, clothing, tattoos (almost always a story in there), and their emotional tones. Stories on parade.
Hope you can back to the train station soon.
Hi Stu, didn’t know you had an improv background–no wonder your stories are so delightful. Agree about stories on a parade at a coffeee hourse, though I avoid Starbucks on principle. Love to support locals instead of overpriced stuff at chains.
Love your snippets/secrets.
I think women in particular ARE harder on themselves than they are on anyone else.
I so understand justice underpinning all of your writing.
We have a crying need to see a lot more of that rare and precious commoditity.
Yes, Sue, we’re so much harder on ourselves.
And yep, we need justice and equality–not sure if we’ll ever have a day with both in all our societies.
For what it’s worth, I enjoyed your writing, your book. It does suck to want to be out in the world at places and not being able to do so. Better than getting the virus though. I think all writers take bits of what we encounter and slip it into our stories. “There are no new ideas in Hollywood,” and all that.
Thanks for reading, the review, and the kind words here.
Yes, no new stories. Yet, new stories all the time.
Writing secret: writing fiction is getting harder for me, to the point that committing myself to a project by starting it is actually frightening, sort of like climbing a mountain. Imagining scenes and turning them into words is a challenge. It’s hard to believe that 20 years ago I could barely tear myself away from my writing to do other things, like go to work. Maybe it’s hormones? Snack secret: not butter, but peanut butter! And not applied to toast or crackers, but all by itself, eaten with a spoon. At least I keep it to one (generous) spoonful, instead of sitting down with the jar. Now you know…
Audrey, ever since the lockdown, I’ve felt the same about writing…
Peanut butter is another of my faves, but somehow not a snack. I might need to revisit that.
I’ve started snacking on Swedish Fish since the quarantine. Not sure why they are so comforting, but here we are. Also, chocolate, but that is any time. I also like to write in journals for and about my characters. I need to do that more often. I like your confession about stealing quirks and experiences from real people. I’ve also done that.
Googling this Swedish Fish thing, Mary. I’ve stopped getting too much chocolate because we tend to polish them off so fast. Trying to get us used to dates as snacks.
Glad to know I’m not alone in stealing quirks from people.
The butter thing still makes me shudder! My favourite snacks tend to involve dark chocolate.
I haven’t tried writing in a public setting yet. Might try the library once the pandemic is under control. I’m completely lacking in cofidence about my words as well – this is pretty much me in my whole life though 🙂
Haha the butter thing is scaring me too, especially because three months of it and my jeans still fit the same as before.
I love writing in libraries!
And I tell myself that self-doubt is helpful especially during the edit process.
I’m with you on this. I often revisit things I’ve written over the years and constantly play with the words to try and improve what I want to convey in that story. The same with poetry. I’m always playing with words to try and express the thoughts better. As for secrets in writing I have none. I may go for weeks without writing anything new. Then there will be an explosion of ideas in my head and I bury myself in the office while the story unfolds and I have to give it my full attention for days until the story in my head comes to a natural conclusion. Then I edit and reedit for months before finally blogging the story in installments. I’ve read how authors organize their story and the characters well before putting the story to pen. Sounds like a great idea and it should appeal to me as my training is in business and administration but that’s not the way I write. It just comes spontaneously for some reason.
We all must be the writers we naturally are :). Love your stories!
What did you steal from me? Now I’m curious.
It’s easy to snack on something not as healthy. I’d say just don’t stock it in your house, but butter and margarine are needed.
The fact that no one on the internet knows what you look like and yet we all know of you :). I have a similar blogger in one of my stories!
Interesting quirks Damyanti. Well, would you ever like what you write! Even when it’s out there and I’ve celebrated something in the evening I usually get up the next morning and ask myself- what was so great about it???
I know for certain I wouldn’t lol. Congratulations on your new book! It is on my TBR.