Seems everyone wants to write a book these days, but what separates the talkers from the authors? One thing I know -stop talking, and start writing. Sounds simple enough, yeah? You do need a plan, though, and the development of some consistent, productive writing habits or rituals.
First of all, I'm driven. If I'm not moving forward, accomplishing something, my characters haunt me. They yell during the day, refuse to let me sleep, and when they lose the battle of keeping me awake, they come to me in my dreams. There's no escape without writing habits that work for me to keep them at bay
So for a few minutes, I'll tell you about some of my writing rituals - some new, some old, and perhaps one or two uniquely me:-) One new habit that's working for me is writing my outline first. I realize this is nothing new for most writers, but I've been a die-hard pantser for years. Writing the outline helps me focus, and gives me a clear sense of moving towards a goal. I jot the outline down on my kindle fire so I can change it easily and keep it beside my laptop as I work. Also helps with editing since I know where specific plot points and action scenes are located.
A few months ago, I purchased Scrivener. A bit of a learning curve to make the most of the program, but well worth it. I input my outline sketch, chapter by chapter, add character sketches and world building thoughts, and everything for a novel or series is right there at my fingertips. Great writing tool to help with organization. Even has a name choosing feature, and of course you can export it to word, PDF, or wherever you need it when you're ready to publish.
As far as schedules go, I've learned to adjust. I set a weekly goal, say three or four chapters, according to life-demands that particular week, and try to write everyday. Some days I get quite a bit done, other days not so much. I'm a musician with latent dreams of composing movie sountracks, so I can only listen to certain songs when I write. The song has to fit the mood of the story, and has to be background music - not something that will distract me by demanding full attention. I also set it to repeat, and listen to the same track over and over. Might be odd to some, but it helps me concentrate and lose myself in my characters' world.
Just a note about editing. I can't help editing some as I go, but I'm developing the ability to forge ahead and complete the entire first draft, leaving major edits for later. This is hard for me, but constant editing stifles my creativity. Speaking of edits, I've joined two writer critique groups and started a beta-reading group. I read their ideas and suggestions, then file them for my editing and rewriting stages.
I can't end this without giving honor to another set of basic writing tools. My handy paperback thesaurus and dictionary are always beside my laptop. That way I don't have quite as many stagnant or just plain old wrong words to fix after the first draft. Now, enough about me. What about you? Do you listen to music? Follow a set schedule? Use a writing program? Tell me. What are some of your writing rituals?