It’s just two weeks until Christmas today. How exciting! This week’s Wednesday Wondering has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, though. I posed the question and asked The Write Romantics:
What are your writing bad habits?
It’s confession time. As the responses started rolling in, I have to admit that I found myself saying, “I do that … oh, and that … and that!”
Here’s our habits …
I am guilty of using words too much…”just” appeared more than 300 times in a 370 page manuscript of mine! Apart from that I would have to say not sitting properly and then getting sore as a result…writers need to look after themselves as the job is sedentary.
My worst writing habit is going over and over the same ground instead of just finishing the novel and then re-drafting it. I know it’s a stupid thing to do as have read about enough published writers who have cut great chunks out of their TS’s on re-drafting. I think it’s my way of revving up my engines to get started on a new chapter, but then I get bogged down with mistakes and revisions which might never see the light of day anyway. That and, of course, peeking at the internet whenever I suddenly think of something I want to look up – time wasting!!
My worst writing habit….I could be here a long time!! I must admit there were a few contenders for this title. There’s my little fondness for sweeties, parma violets and haribo’s top of the list. Or my occasional forays into obsessional cleaning. Give me a manuscript to edit or a room to clean and I’ll go for that latter and put the former on hold. But it doesn’t happen that often.
By far my worst writing habit is the internet. It’s just so interesting. There is just so much information out there, most of it accompanied by gorgeous colour pictures or even videos and music! Have you ever wondered what meals your average peasant would have cooked in the Tudor times and how they would have cooked them? I have. And the internet is just soooo full of fascinating facts and so many eccentric, obsessional people doing the most crazy things. I wouldn’t dream of doing anything too different, I’m a sofa and telly girl, me. But I love reading about folk that do.
Anyway, I’d better get back to that novel I’m writing. I’ve just got to look something up on the internet!
My worst writing habit is my inability to move on until I’m happy with the chapter I’m working on. It’s as if there’s a setting in my brain which won’t let me go on until I feel happy that it’s right. I write a draft and then I have to put it down and get on with the rest of life and while I’m doing that my subconscious is working on the bits it’s not happy with. I wake up some mornings going ‘oh it should say that’ or with new bits of dialogue to add in. I’m not sure what’s going on while I’m asleep but somewhere my brain must be figuring it out. And then suddenly that process stops and I know that I’m reasonably happy with that chapter and it’s OK to move on. To be honest it drives me crazy and I’d love to be able to write and write and then edit the full draft. Maybe I’ll be more relaxed when I start the Orkney book. After all, I now know I can make it to the end of a novel and that gives me a whole lot more confidence than I had when I set out to write Beltane.
I’m sure that I have lots of bad writing habits, but the worst of them for me is head hopping. Maybe it’s indicative of a butterfly mind on my part but, in my first NWS submission, I gave out more Points of View than Terry Wogan did in eight years of hosting the show – gosh, showing my age now too! I know I’ve got better at it and, actually, if I ever get published I suspect that it might not matter so much, as I’ve recently read a novel by a best-selling author of multiple novels who head hops like there’s no tomorrow. You can break the rules once you make it, it seems, and I think I’ll be very good at that – so someone hurry up and publish me, please, so I can start to rebel!
One of my bad habits is having a love affair with a word and using it again and again. I never know when this ailment is going to strike, or even which word it will be. I also make lots of coffee whilst writing, most of which I then forget to drink as I get into my story. It’s almost as if the act of making the coffee allows me to think.
My worst bad habit though, is not believing in myself, not trusting what is written on the page. Instead of seeing where it goes, I come to a grinding halt as ‘the gremlin’ on my shoulder tells me it is a page full of utter rubbish. Perhaps I should throw cold coffee over him!
I’m guilty of most of the above! The quest for perfection massively hindered my progress with my first novel. I must have re-written the beginning at least 100 times. Taking a different approach to novel 2 and 3 – just writing it and not looking back over what I’d done before – has been refreshing.
I’m terrible for using certain words over and over again. Like Helen R, “just” is one of mine but I also have phrases I love. My heroine in novel 1 is based mainly on me so she uses some of my sayings. One of my faves is “how rude” or “how incredibly rude” but I discovered that she said this about 15 times across the novel and, not only that, but her two best friends had started saying it too! Slight overkill!
My final one is the cardinal sin of tell rather than show. I’ve always struggled with this one and I think it will continue to be my nemesis. I find it much easier to write, “I was really angry with Andy …” instead of “My nails dug into my palms as I fought the urge not to slap him across his smug face …”
Over to you. If you’re a writer, do you have any bad habits? Or, as a reader, are there any habits you’ve spotted in novels that wind you up? As always, we’d love to hear from you and please feel free to pose questions too.