Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Writing Habits

by J.H. Brogran

 Space: In his book On Writing, Stephen King explains the basic writer’s necessity to have a place one call his or her own. More explicitly he advised about the ability to close a door. Okay, coming from a notorious horror writer, the advice stuck with me big time. Before I read On Writing, I used to write in the TV room, where we have the family computer against a corner. The room was so hot during the summer it could perfectly double as a sauna.

A couple of year ago we moved to another house, one that had a small room out in the back. I seized my opportunity and claimed that room. I managed to get a rusty old desk top; it ran on Windows Millennium Edition. (Yes, the one between ’98 and XP.) Still, the computer was big enough to run Word 2003 and handle more than a few research files. Most importantly, I was able to shut a door that would isolate me enough to delve into my characters, my plotting.

So, did I write the next greatest novel? Hardly. For a while, I barely wrote at all! I write in bursts: 4,000 words in one sit, then nothing for a couple of days. I lack the discipline to write every single day. This shows because I have several WIP in different stages. When I feel the urge to write, it can be anywhere, in the middle of a crowd, regardless of the noise. For example, I’m writing this in my living room, I can hear my wife and kids enjoying a show on TV. The sound is soothing. Then it hit me, old Stephen meant to shut down the mental door.  

Company: Besides the muse, of course. I’ve heard of authors who need complete quiet to get in the mood to write. Not me, I need music. Any kind of music would do. I’ve been a Winamp fan since their early versions. I have a few playlists: one with Jazz, one with classical instrumental music, and I have one titled “Some to Stay Awake.” That’s my last resort when tiredness is battling my muse. Among the ever favorites are Frank Sinatra, Michael Bublé, Amy Winehouse, Alejandro Sanz, Julio Iglesias, Juanes, and recently, Adele.

 One of the best pieces of advice is not to combine writing with bad habits; that means no drinking by the computer. I know a bottle of wine could spank spark the muse, but at least in my case, there will be plenty of typos to correct the next morning.  

Goals: If you can set yourself a daily goal, be it a chapter or word count, it is the best way to achieve constant results. I know, I already said I don’t work well on a daily basis. That doesn’t mean I can’t see its benefits. I’ve also discovered I work better against a deadline. So, my deadlines are not daily. I work in projects. I set a number of scenes that I need to have ready by a certain date. I can goof around for a couple of days, but then the urge to meet that goal settles in and the words begin to flow.

As with any sport or profession, you have to do what it works for you. There are many books, blogs and other information across the wide world web where you can get tips and tricks to help with a work-in-progress. In the end, like Barry Eisler says on his blog, finishing a manuscript is the only thing that is up to the author.  

J. H. Bográn, born and raised in Honduras, is the son of a journalist. He ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. José’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw in a twist of romance into the mix. His works include novels and short stories in both English and Spanish. He’s a member of the International Thriller Writers where he also serves as the Thriller Roundtable Coordinator.

Connect with him at: The Tale Weaver
Twitter: @JHBogran

In addition, J.H. has a great short story, The Assassin’s Mistress A random encounter leads to deception, love and murder. While vacationing at a ski resort, professional hitman Robert Prescott meets a strange and beautiful woman. They discover passion and embark into a dangerous game hiding their relationship from her powerful husband. Then a further twist of fate makes Robert’s occupation collide with his new found love.


  1. LJ, thank you for this chance to gather some thoughts on writing.

  2. I don't write every day either, but it hasn't effected my productivity much. Life is a balancing act. Thanks for blogging with us.

  3. Great post, Jose. It took me a long time to figure out that "shut the mental door" thing too.

  4. Thanks for joining us here, J.H.! Always good to have another thriller writer in the midst. (Not that I'm one, but I specialize in editing thrillers.)

    I still have your card from the Craftfest Cocktail party two years ago. The Assassin's Mistress sounds intriguing. I just clicked on your link and went to buy it and Amazon told me I'd already bought it! Time to read it!

  5. José, another great post from you!

    Once again, I truly enjoyed THE ASSASSIN'S MISTRESS, and am looking forward to the possibility of you developing that story more fully.

  6. Welcome, Jose.

    I've created a space in my office that I love. I seem to write better there than anywhere else. Most important, I don't do anything other than write while I'm there.

    I do write almost every day--only because I've found that it's kind of like working out; so easy to fall from the routine once I stop.

  7. Great post, Jose! You're right on about the wine, and especially about project deadlines. It's all about creating the best work possible, and that doesn't necessarily mean daily work, as long as its good work on a regular basis.
    Also, I'm currently in the middle of your novel, Treasure Hunt, and it's keeping me up at night!
    Keep on writing,
    Gina Fava

  8. Jodi, wow, that card must be faded! Still, I think I've got yours in a special envelope marked "met at ThrillerFest 2010". Time flies.

    Peg, you're making me blush. I do have a follow up story for The Assassin's Mistress. Afraid is creating so high expectation, it is almost frightening.

    Tami, thanks for stopping by. Yeah, damn that mental door.m

    Gina, glad you liked the post.

    Andrew, sorry to leave you for last, but you know, ladies first. It is good to have a room for writing, I bet it doesn't have Internet access. Mine doesn't. Best way to avoid that distraction.

  9. Jose, that's a great idea to have a writing room with no internet access! I never thought of it, but it's a perfect idea! Get away from that huge distraction!


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