Monday, June 24, 2013

So...How Do You Do It?

No, Han - not that!  Get your mind out of the gutter.  :-)

Lady Peter sent me some questions that she thought might be interesting to put out to the blog followers-at-large.  Some of them have already been answered in our "Ask Us Anything" series if you remember that.  Let this also serve as a reminder that you can all still "Ask Us Anything!" and we'll put it out here.

So without any further ado, here are Lady Peter's musings:

1) Do you write on a computer? Tablet? Longhand and then transcribe?
2) When do you write? Early in the morning, at work, late at night? Only on weekends or on vacation?
3) Do you use a beta reader? What kind of editing processes do you go through before a beta, with a beta, or on your own?
4) Do you do other writing in your life or for work?
5) How long have you been writing fic? In general?

I'll kick things off by answering.  (But remember, she doesn't just want to hear from me, so please oblige her and answer away):

1)  I write on my computer.  Although occassionally I'll take verbal notes on my iPhone "voice memo" thingy when something hits me in the middle of the night or while I'm driving.  I have a horrific memory, so it's a necessity for me if I wish to remember something.

2)  I usually write at lunch eating at my desk at work or late at night after hubby has fallen asleep (I can't write with an alert presence nearby).  On weekends and vacation I'm usually busy with kids, husband and stuff, so not much writing there unless I get some unlikey time alone or I stay up all night (which I've been known to do).

3)  I use a beta reader, although I sometimes think she rues the day that she offered to be my beta.  I try my best to go through some editing before I send anything for a beta, although sometimes I'll send something fairly 'raw' just because I need advice or an opinion, or because I'm self-indulgent and just want somebody to look at my stuff!  My beta reader is very patient with all of that kind of neediness.  :-)

For dialogue, I find it's a good rule to say the words out loud after I've written them.  LOTS of time that little exercise reveals stilted, unreal dialogue and gets me to reword it for more real life sounding speaking.  Def a habit I would recommend for anyone writing dialogue.  Also, I find time lends itself as a good self-beta reader also.  Just a few days will allow me to find things that I couldn't after freshly penning something new.

4)  I write technical policies and procedures at work all of the time.  It's not as fun, believe me.

5)  I started writing in 2010 and I can't believe it's been that long but then again that short of a time.  It feels like I just started but like I've been doing it forever at the same time.  :-)

So, that's it.  Looking forward to your answers...


  1. Okay, here goes:

    1. I write on my netbook. I try to keep work material and play material separate. And my handwriting sucks. (I do nice numbers but those are the only legible things I do write.)

    2. I write whenever I can get time -- boring meetings, at lunch, on airplanes, when I've finished household chores, and this week, in between rehearsals. I do get more time in the summer, and I write every day in summer. I write a lot on vacations to tropical resorts. I don't get as much done on sightseeing vacations but I usually manage to sneak some in.

    3. Sometimes I use a beta. Usually not. I should use one more often but people are very busy, and I try to edit carefully. I agree with letting it simmer for 24 hours. I manage to find stuff I might have missed or something that sounds just godawful.

    4. As a researcher, I'm constantly writing. I usually have something I'm working on and something in review. No, it is not particularly entertaining but I find it less onerous than some of my colleagues do. The hardest part of what I do is keeping it short, and this has carried over into fanfic.

    5. I started writing fanfic in 1998. Took a few years off, began writing again in 2006. Began writing H/L fic in February of this year.

  2. Fun! Okay, lemme try....

    1. I write on my laptop. Although, sometimes I really find myself missing my old typewriter. It's what I used to write stories on from childhood through high school. I kinda miss the heaviness of the keys. And how I *really* had to think out what I was saying before I wrote it.

    2. I write late at night. For some reason my brain doesn't turn on for this kind of thing before 9:30 or later. 95% of my big fic was written in middle of the night. It sucks though, because it really makes it hard to find the time to write now that I have a normal 9-5 job.

    3. I haven't used a beta reader--yet. But I'm more than willing to change that. Initially it was just because I was sort of anxious about this whole "writing fic" thing and didn't want anyone to know what I was up to, so I really couldn't ask for any help. I was convinced everyone would think my stuff was awful so I was desperate to hold onto my anonymity (I had a different username in the H/L communities).

    4. I kinda of write for my job. In a round about way. But it's not in anyway fulfilling in the creative sense. I also write regular short stories (or at least I used to, I haven't really been good about writing for several years).

    5. I've been writing silly stories for as long as I can remember. I think my first "fanfic" would technically have to be an illustrated story I made about "Heathcliff the cat" in second grade. I brought it into to school to show a couple friends and the teacher saw it and made me read it to the class during story time. As a shy kid in early childhood, this was both a flattering and mortifying experience that I still remember to this day. My big fic was my first attempt at H/L. And that was in January of 2001. I've taken several years off from that and all writing, and am in the process of getting myself back into it.

    1. Hi Rose: Here's an interesting article from's series on writer's daily habits. It's all about writers who always worked late at night. I agree that there's aomething magical about it!

    2. Oh my god, thank you for this sharing this! I feel validated! I'm going to have to show my bf this article. He's always huffing about "Why didn't you just write on saturday or sunday afternoon?" And when I'm like "I *can't* write in the afternoon. My brain isn't on yet" kinda looks at me like I'm full of it. This will show him!!!

      And I'm a big Bob Dylan fan. So him having the same tendencies made me feel all special inside. :-)

      Great article. Thanks again for the link.

  3. Ok, let's see...

    1) Everything I've done has been written solely on my iPad using the Pages app, and I just chop and change stuff as I go. Handwriting stuff is a no no for me since once I get into the swing of it my writing quickly becomes totally unreadable, even to me :)

    2) No particular time of day is best, just anytime I'm not at work. But I did find with my second fic that writing after 11pm was great, and I got a significant amount of it done late at night over the course of a week. Maybe because it's so quiet, and I can concentrate more. Plus I guess I'm more of a night owl.

    3) Yep, have used a beta reader for all of mine, and she's awesome by the way ;) I think it's important to let a different pair of eyes look over it for you. Even if you read it over and over 50 times I can guarantee there will be something staring you in the face that you won't spot yourself, and your trusty beta will spot it immediately. Plus it's great to get advice from someone else if you get stuck.

    4) I enjoy writing emails, does that count? I guess it does.

    5) Started work on my very first fan fic end of last summer, but didn't get it finished until October, it was a long hard slog, but I finally found my mojo and enjoyed the experience. It was finally published online at the end of October 2012.

  4. I would like to take a moment to go OT and thank Zyra and Push for the new wallpaper. That is one of my very favorite shots of H/L.

    1. AND the header photo, which I've never seen before.

    2. I love that picture too. Harrison looks so stinkin' cute!

  5. I've loved reading the answers so far! Thanks for sharing, folks. In the spirit of day, here are my own answers:

    I write my stories almost exclusively on iPad. I use Pages, but I've also found an app called Notes Plus that will translate your handwriting into type. So sometimes I handwrite there, then transfer it into iPad. I honestly think if it weren't for the intimacy of the iPad I never would be writing fiction at all.

    2) I write at night after the kids are in bed, sometimes on my bed and frequently in the bathtub! I currently have a lot of free time, so sometimes I also write at a coffee shop while the kids are at school.

    3) I would be terrified to publish anything without beta reading. That's partially my pathetic need for validation, and partially my belief in the editing process. I do usually like to get things to a somewhat settled place before handing them off, but, as Push says, sometimes you just need someone to acknowledge your geode (wait - does anyone else say that??). And I'm typing this in Pages right now because my browser won't let me edit sufficiently in a text box :-)

    4) I published an essay or two in college, and wrote a few humor pieces that never really went anywhere. I've always done a fair amount of writing and editing in my careers as a front-end web developer and a librarian/archivist. I was one of those kids who was always told they should be a writer, but it never really clicked until I threw caution to the wind and started writing, um... erotic Star Wars fanfiction. I still can't believe I'm typing that!

    5) I only started writing fic in the last few months, but it has already given me such joy. Participating in this community has been so much fun!

  6. Thought I'd share my answers. And great responses from everyone. Nice to see what kind of process others have.

    And ahem, ahem. I think I have a question out there that could be answered. :)

    1) I have written by hand at times. I found I was a bit looser when I knew if I didn’t like something I could just cross it out. But it was kind of slow transcribing it to the computer so been working on writing on the computer mostly. Faster that way. But still old school and like to see paper in front of me and feel it in my hands. :)

    2) Pretty much whenever I can. Morning, lunch sometimes, at night after the kids go to bed. I usually can’t wait too late to write as then I get tired and don’t get to it. I will sometimes take a break from everyone and go into my office to write. I don’t tend to write on vacations. Mine tend to be the kind that you need a vacation to recover from your vacation.

    3) I absolutely use a beta reader. I don’t think I’d feel very comfortable with posting something that at least one other person has looked at. I’ve been privileged to have some very patient and helpful betas. :) They all have been great to work with. I tend to read through the story and edit as I go. I used to make sure everything was polished before I sent it off for beta, but these days I’ve been working on ideas at the same time and have sent rough cuts.

    4) I hope email counts too. :) If I write at work, that’s what I get to write.

    5) Been writing for two years this summer. Hard to believe. I actually did write fanfic back in the day as a teenager, but not sure we had a name for it back then. And well, we didn’t even have the internet. So, yeah, I was chiseling those bad boys out on stone tablets before catching the brontosaurus to school. :)

  7. Nice! Here are my answers:

    1) I'm old school when I write in spanish. I just love the feel of good paper between my fingers, the way my Parker scratches the paper... Not just any paper, I have an A4 size, leather bound blank book with creamy paper to write on. <3 I'm very posh when it comes down to writing. I have a suitcase with just ink of every colour, pens, etc. inside. I like to do calligraphy, so there you have it. Unfortunately, when I'm writing in english, I need to check the spelling of some words, so I write on the computer.

    2) The ideas come to me in the morning, while I'm having breakfast. Who've though that staring at my cereal box was so inspirint!. I develop my ideas along the morning and I write at lunch. My best writing comes from night time writing, though.

    3) Yes! I love her, and she sets up challenges for my stories. Right now I'm in the middle of one of those challenges. So much fun. We used to write things together when we were teenagers, and she as a journalist she just know how things have to go. I'm glad to say that she hasn't made dramatic changes in any of my stories yet.

    4)As a student, I have to write a lot.

    5)This is as interesting one. I've been writing since I was ten. Part of my weekly homework was to write a tale. Fanfic came with my beta reader when we were both teenagers. We staretd with Lord of the Rings, and then moved to another story. Pretty long one, that stays unfinished. At nineteen, I stopped writing at all, and now, at twenty seven, I'm back. With H/L, my favourite couple of all times, in english. Who've thought about that! ^^

  8. Wow, and I thought I was the only one who had recently started with this whole fanfic life. I figured everyone else had been writing forever. Anyway, here's my answers:

    1) My whole life is done on the computer, so that's where I write. I'm a pretty good typist, so it is quicker than long hand.
    2) I write when I get a chance. Often I wake up with an idea and will try to get it out of my head first thing. Between work, kids, house stuff, most writing is relegated to weekends, but I've occasionally taken some time during the workday to work on something that is nagging at me. Can't write late at night cause I'm too sleepy.
    3) I've never used a beta reader. I've only written short scenes, but I'll write it out, reread, change stuff, read again, edit, until I think the story is how I pictured it in my mind and the dialog works. I like the idea of reading dialog out loud to see if it flows. Might try that.
    4) I write requirement documents for work and emails explaining why the system is doing what it's doing. Other than elementary and high school, this fanfic is my first attempt at any creative writing.
    5) Less than 6 months. Just discovered fanfic a little over a year ago and it took awhile to attempt my own.

  9. I am enjoying reading all these answers. Thanks guys! I used to hand write and type on an old, clunker typewriter but I can't say that I miss either. The computer is just so fast and easy. Gah! I can remember getting to the end of a page on the typewriter and making a mistake and just loathing it. I was OCD about mistakes. Now it's almost embarrassing how easy we have it when I think about it. There's no way I would ever write as much as I do had technology not progressed...

  10. It's been a long time since I have written anything H/L. Been trying some writing in another fandom (Doctor Who), but that will not see the light of day. I like reading all of the different comments, thought I would put in my two cents.
    1) I'm old school, pad of paper and pen. I keep a folder/notebook for each fandom. I'll draft out the entire story and then go to the computer.
    2) I write whenever and wherever inspiration hits. I always keep pads of paper around and in my purse. I just joined the 21st century with a smartphone, so I may start using the notepad app for story ideas.
    3) In the beginning I used family at a beta reader, not a good idea. Yes, I have used beta reader for my last few stories. I haven't written anything for publishing in almost a year:( Lots of drafts, nothing near finished. A bit frustrating.
    4) Yes, I do other writing. I have a personal blog where I write quite frequently and I journal everyday as I have for the last 30 years.
    5) I've been writing fanfic for less than two years.

  11. I love the photo you used as though Han is hearing the title and thinking we mean something else :)

    1. Computer, always. I can type pretty fast, and my handwriting cannot keep up with my brain but my typing can. Also, my handwriting is terrible.

    2. No specific time. When I first started I'd say I was a late at night writer. The problem is that now I don't stay up very late, so I need to do it at other times. I don't write much at all anymore, but it can happen anytime. Usually just at home, not on vacation or anything.

    3. Yes, most of the time. If I write something really short for one of the challenges I usually don't, but otherwise it's always good to have someone else look at your work. I didn't always, only because I didn't "know" anyone to help me. But if I look back on some of the first stories I put up, I can see where one was needed, even just for little things like noticing word repetition. I usually just write and then do a read through, change what needs to be changed if I see anything and send it off. I'm not much for endless editing.

    4. Yes, though not as much as I might like. I've always loved writing. I write plenty of emails if that counts, and I have a personal blog that I... well, used to write on a lot anyway. I used to journal regularly, too, and that was always hand written though that has also fallen by the wayside. I do love writing, though.

    5. I've been writing since I learned how. I think somewhere my mom still has a "book" I wrote when I was like 5, and I know there are others from very early ages as well. In 3rd grade my best friend and I spent every recess for weeks writing and illustrating a book just for fun. If I had known fanfic existed I'm sure I would've started earlier. I wrote my first ones I think in about 2001. They were supposed to go up on an old Han and Leia site that went under right after I was approved to have it put up (there were standards once!) and they just sat until I decided to finally share them on Nerfherder's Playground maybe around 2008? And then in 2009 I put them up on and started writing more regularly.

    1. Zyra, I'm the same way. I'm a fast typist, so I type waaay faster than I write by hand. And I usually get tired pretty quickly when I do it the long way. :-)

  12. And Push, your beta reader is always just continuously amazed at your ability to constantly come up with new ideas. And no, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into when you started sending me stuff :)

    Lastly, as your beta reader, even though I did not beta this post, it should be "ado" the English word, and not "adieu" which is just French for goodbye ;)

  13. 1 I write in my head and 90% of the time it stays there. A very nice professional author once very nicely encouraged me to continue as his editor and he was being kind.

    2 most of my ideas show up at night but I tend to be most productive at creating in the quiet of the early morning.

    3 nope betas cant see in my head

    4 I'm a rocket scientist during the day (honest) and technical reports are kind of like telling a story... my moonlighting jobs are editing, photography, and being a mom and chauffer to 3 choir boys. not much writing there.

    5 well I've been dreaming up my own versions of Star Wars since I saw ANH in the theater in 1979... I even wrote them long hand on paper back then... but I've never published in the fan fic realm

  14. I started writing in the first grade. I loved writing stories. My daughter and granddaughter are writers as well, and they're quite good at it.

  15. Would any of you like to be my beta reader? I need one in english for my new story :)

  16. Thought I'd join in ;)
    1. I use a computer to write. I used to have a laptop that I bought specifically for writing but recently bought a new computer because the old one was causing lots of anxiety. If I get an idea that I just have to record somewhere before I forget it (it's like holding on to a dream sometimes I swear) then I might scribble a rough draft out on the nearest piece of paper.
    2. I am usually a night time writer. I don't know if this is when inspiration strikes or its just when I have enough free time to do it. My brain tends to really click into gear towards the end of the day. Good for writing, not so much for sleeping. :)
    3. I have never used a beta reader. I have been reading fanfiction for many years and I am still a little uncertain about what a beta reader is. (Someone who offers constructive criticism? Checks for spelling/grammar mistakes? I think.) I tend to write in short sprints. I get an idea and the overwhelming need to get it on paper or screen. Once it is out, I may tinker with it a little but I tend to put it out there straight away and move on to the nest thing. (A habit I'm trying to break).
    4. No writing at work (my boss asks me for my approval before sending important emails but that is the extent of it)but I do write A LOT for a course I am doing. I will be finished in 4 months however, and I am considering doing a creative writing course for fun. I have missed having the time to write what I want to write and to borrow an expression from my brother: This course has stressed my balls. (I apologise.)
    5. I think that first fic I ever wrote was when I was about 11 (and didn't even know of the existence of fanfiction). I was majorly into the Harry Potter books (I read each of them 15 times- like I said MAJOR) and couldn't wait for the next book to come out. SO I decided to write it myself. I didn't get more than 3 chapters into it before abandoning it. I don't think Harry even got out of Little Whinging. I vaguely remember an entire chapter of him on a swingset, contemplating his life. I'm sure it would have been a real page-turner :D My Harry Potter obsession died out, however, AND THEN THERE WAS STAR WARS. The first fic I stumbled across online was a Padme/Anakin story but it caught my interest and soon enough I was staying up late devouring Han/Leia fics.
    That was 8 years ago. I feel the need to point out that I'm not terribly interested in Padme/Anakin fics- but 8 years ago it felt like a miracle to have more Star Wars beyond the movies.

    So, that ended up much longer than I expected. I do ramble on. :)