How long do you spend writing each day?
Between 6 and 8 hours.
What time of day do you prefer to write?
Day is the key word here. I’ve never been able to do anything constructive at night.
Do you set yourself a time limit or a word limit? No limits?
It’s all about time for me. Thinking in terms of words or pages shifts the focus. When I’m writing, I want to be inhabiting the writing, not stepping outside of it to take a tally.
Do you write with music on? If so, what music do you like to write to?
If there’s music on, then I want to listen to it, which isn’t a passive, background sort of activity for me. I need quiet.
How often do you check the Internet? Do you fall into Internet black holes? Or turn off your WiFi completely?
I try to limit checking my e-mail to once in the morning, once at lunch, and once at the end of the day. Sometimes I’ll dash onto the Internet for a quick bit of research, but then I dash back off again. My inherent Luddite tendencies save me from the black hole problem: while cyberspace is a fantastic resource, I don’t enjoy hanging out there.
Are you a basher or a swooper? Kurt Vonnegut characterized writers into these two camps: “Tellers of stories with ink on paper, not that they matter any more, have been either swoopers or bashers. Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum-crankum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one. When they’re done they’re done.” Are you something else entirely?
I guess that makes me a swasher. I alternate between fits of narrative spontenaity and obsessive tinkering.
Do you eat when you’re writing?
What snacks/drinks do you go to?
I’m a seltzer addict. I lived in a perpetual state of dehydration until I started drinking it. I also have a strong attachment to chocolate-covered salted almonds. There’s usually a container of them at the corner of my desk. I don’t do caffeine anymore, so chocolate is all I’ve got left.
What’s your biggest procrastination tool? Or are you a freak who never procrastinates? Freak!
It’s amazing how many little particles of dust and lint fall between the keys of a computer keyboard. And it’s fascinating how many of them can be picked up by inserting the sticky part of a Post-it note between the keys and kind of swiping it back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…
How do the people (roomates/partners/children) who live with you fit into or around your writing schedule?
I’ve got two school-age daughters, so my writing schedule is determined by their school schedule, which means I write from 9am to 4pm, and I don’t write on weekends.
Do you find yourself tied to the place you’ve grown accustomed to writing? Or can you just pick up and go?
I’m very attached to my office. The stuff I’ve put on the walls is all stuff that makes me happy to look at, or reminds me of artists I admire, and when I’m in it, I get to be in a universe free of school bus schedules, grocery lists, and all things that vie for head space when I’m on the other side. Plus, some of the things I do when I’m writing—like making the faces or gestures a character is making—wouldn’t go over too well in public.