The authors of Love Across the Universe sat down and answered a series of questions about writing, science fiction, romance, and more.
One of the things that working writers recommend to newbies is to not have anything “precious” to them that they must have in order to write. Fixating on a certain pen or a certain program sets you up for being completely unproductive if your chosen item is missing or not working. But with that said, writers do tend to gravitate toward certain rituals, items, software, etc. We asked the Love Across the Universe authors to share some of theirs.
Elsa M. Carruthers—“All B+ut You”
I use my Alphasmart for first drafts and just write in snippets.
M.T. DeSantis—“The Princess of Sands”
Not really. I have limited vision, so I use a screen reader, but that’s more of a necessity than a ritual.
Traci Douglass—“A Dream to Build a Kiss On”
Not really. Just give me my music, my coffee, and my computer. I’m good.
A.E. Hayes—“Tristan’s Tryst”
I cannot write unless I have a full cup of iced coffee and a bottle of water next to me. If the coffee runs out, I have to stop, get up, and make more. I also need to use my MacBook to do my work—it’s older, and the keys are wearing out, but I can’t imagine writing on any other device.
Serena Jayne—“You Only Love Once”
I work best when I am in the habit of writing regularly. Whenever possible, I join writer friends for sprints. I’m a slow writer, if I get more than 300 words in a twenty-five minute session, I do the happy dance. One of my goals is to train my Dragon Dictate software to get words on the page faster. Lately, I’ve been using index cards for plotting. As I come up with new ideas as I write, I add things I want to include in future scenes to the cards.
I love Scrivener and when I sit down to work seriously (as in not taking notes in office or dictating/tapping in memopad on my phone) I’m only using that software. As someone who plots very lightly, has extensive notes, writes out of order, and re-writes to revise, I have a lot of documents to keep track of and I need a program that can hold them all within easy reach for me to be productive.
No rituals. Rituals, for me, might clog my process. As an aspiring professional writer, it’s my job to stay open to craft and the everyday tasks involved with writing. Some tasks I “like,” others I don’t, but I need them all. If I engaged in ritual—and locked out the possibilities that come with learning—I might miss something that could help sharpen my skillsets.
Cara McKinnon—“The Pirates and the Pacifist”
I’ve tried so many things over the course of my career so far, and nothing has really stuck. The only thing that has consistently worked is to do my writing at my desk instead of elsewhere. Although it is fun to take the laptop out to a coffee shop, I am far more productive at home in my PJs, listening to the “Sunny” app on my phone to block out extraneous noise, and writing in good old MS Word.
Sheri Queen—“Red Sand”
I use what’s on hand to get started—index cards, small notebooks, etc.—and transfer my notes to Scrivener.
Mary Rogers—“Breakfast on Pluto”
I have tea, constant tea. I have blue pens, and not black. I don’t like pencils. I like things in their place. I call it organized, my husband calls it annoying.
I used to. I had my sacred writing pencil. No one else could touch it. I used individual sheets of college-ruled paper because I didn’t like the finality notebooks implied. I had a few writing helpers, two Playmobil figures. One was a painter, the symbol of creativity, the other a guy wearing a loincloth and sporting green hair. He was the symbol of chaos. You really can’t write without a little of both. However, when I started writing less at the whim of “the muse” and more for finishing novels, I did away with all those comforts. I still have my chaos and creativity on my desk, though. Can’t go too overboard.
I always have to have a comforting beverage nearby—water, tea, coffee—and there usually needs to be at least one cat in the room. I also have to be able to look out at least one window, even if it’s nighttime, in case I feel stuck and need to take inspiration from nature for a moment. I’ve used the same brand of laptop for over twelve years, and I guess it would take a lot for me to switch brands if this one kicks the bucket!
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