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I like to read the "How I Work" column at Lifehacker, and then think about how I wish I had more toys like the people in that column. But, alas I am me, and I actually already have a good amount of toys. So I thought, why don't they have many writers in "How I Work". They had Felicia Day, but half the time they have somebody that doesn't even really do much at their desks, like a celebrity chef.

So, I thought, maybe Writer's Cafe could have a "How I Work" thread, and everybody would be someone who actually writes and uses their desk. I tailored the questions a little for writers, but it's pretty close.

The Questions
What genres do you write, and what are the length of your works?

What software or web sites do you use every day?

What PDA/personal organizer/system do you use to keep organized?

Do you write in different places? Go to coffee shops?

What's your best tricks to get yourself to write?
Lynn Blackmar "How I Work"

What genres do you write, and what are the length of your works?

I write YA, action-adventure, and science fiction novels. Lengths vary, but I tend to stay in the 50-100k range.

What software or web sites do you use every day?

I have a Gateway desktop and an Acer netbook, both on Windows. I'd like to get a larger notebook, but it will probably be a few months. Setup is pretty simple, I do have a wired mouse.

Scrivener - I do nearly everything in Scrivener from outlining to publishing to HTML. When I edit, I print out and hand edit. I also hand publish, as I'm fluent in HTML.
Mindbloom - I use Mindbloom as my motivations
Workflowy - Workflowy is outlining software, and I love the over-simple ease of using it. I use it to outline chapters when I'm stuck, and I use it to remind myself of things via my iPhone 4 when I'm out.
Feedly - Feedly is a Google Reader-based RSS reader, and I follow everybody's blogs on it, including Passive Guy, DWS, KKR, YA Indie, and a few authors. I also follow lifestyle and food blogs.
Crimson Editor - HTML editor
Photoshop CS3 - an old version because that's what we bought software for back when

What PDA/personal organizer/system do you use to keep organized?

I mainly use Mindbloom and Workflowy as a team, one to keep me on task and motivated, and the other to keep me from forgetting things. I write down notes in Workflowy, but I then generally try to write major story ideas down in a story file in Scrivener, where I think keep random notes about it until I'm ready to write it. I have about 50 ideas in my Scrivener story file.

Do you write in different places? Go to coffee shops?

I usually write in my home office, though there's a coffee shop near my house where I write once in awhile. I get easily distracted in other places, but sometimes it helps me get through a day where I wouldn't be working at all.

What's your best tricks to get yourself to write?

Strangely, the thing that helps me get in the mood to write the most is to watch Smallville when I get up. It doesn't have to be Smallville, but it's on TNT at 6am, and there's ten seasons so it just keeps going. Even if I'm not really awake, it seems to lock in a storytelling mind, where I start thinking about framing my ideas. Sometimes I watch things I have on the DVR, like Haven.

I also like to create playlists of songs when I write each novel, and play them as I'm getting ready. I play them a lot when I drive, too. I usually write in silence, though I'm trying the new beta service "[email protected]" right now.
 

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What genres do you write, and what are the length of your works?

So far two erotica romance of about 15k
(but I've been writing full time for 25 years ;D ... boring legal stuff)

What software or web sites do you use every day?

Scrivener and word.

What PDA/personal organizer/system do you use to keep organized?


mmmm ... I don't have enough stuff to need to be organized yet ...
So i guess this thread will be very instructive for me !
I'm a Mac and I back up everything on two computers and on Dropbox

Do you write in different places? Go to coffee shops?

At my desk mainly ...

What's your best tricks to get yourself to write?

I read inspirational thread of those who are writing full time and tell myself this is where I want to be in a couple of years.
 

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What genres do you write, and what are the length of your works?

contemporary romance, one stand-alone, plus a series of four so far, each book 52K-59K words
under a pen name: erotic romance, a series of four novellas, 20K-24K words

What software or web sites do you use every day?

Have an ASUS desktop, with ergonomic keyboard. Word. Post-it note software. NoteTab Light for formatting HTML. Read Kindleboards every day. Check KDP sales reports several times a day. Usually avoid looking at news websites until after I'm done with writing. Facebook to keep up with family and book fan pages.

What PDA/personal organizer/system do you use to keep organized?

Use post-it software keep notes on my desktop.
Use Word to make docs of lists of info for each series to keep track of it all.
Use Google doc spreadsheet for tracking word count each day.
Back-up to dropbox constantly. Two other online backup sites used weekly since I forget to do them daily.

Do you write in different places? Go to coffee shops?

No. Only at my desktop.

What's your best tricks to get yourself to write?

Make a fresh cup of coffee with my Keurig, generally a dark roast.
Put on my music playlist with headphones. (have several lists depending on what I'm writing.)
If I can't write immediately, I do some chair dancing. Always works.
 

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Chair Dancing? lol. Sitting in my chair with my music on and do as much dancing as is possible without getting up. Usually gives my arms a bit of a workout and starts the blood flowing.
 

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What genres do you write, and what are the length of your works?
I jump all over. 4k to 80k.

What software or web sites do you use every day?
Photoshop for covers, Sigil to create epubs, Open Office to write, various writing, publishing and stock art sites.

What PDA/personal organizer/system do you use to keep organized?
I track word count and goals in a spreadsheet, and I put up simple goals on my physical corkboard.

Do you write in different places? Go to coffee shops?
Mostly at my ergonomic desk, but sometimes at coffee shops with my wireless keyboard on my lap and the computer on the table.

What's your best tricks to get yourself to write?
Imagining failure. (Imagining success doesn't motivate me.)
 

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Victoria Champion said:
... I think of my husband working his horrible day job, and how I need to rescue him. This sets the motivation...
^^^ Nice phrase. It's a nasty rabid brawl over here about this issue.

Genre: Fantasy Epic Swords & Sorcery, Paranormal Vampire Romance, WIP on Paranormal Thriller, Contemporary Romance, Science Fiction.
Lengths: 50-90k novels, 10k shorts.
Software: LibreOffice (writing, spreadsheets), Xmind (brainstorm/outlining - I outline to ensure I hit writing word counts/story progress), gimp (cover artwork).
Location: Desk1 (old wood secretary, cramped), desk2 (office-located kitchen-style drop-leaf table, to spread out), desk3 (office treadmill converted to fast walking desk), coffee shop occasionally (~once a month, I'd do more but adding up the drive time/parking/walking/ordering/setup it's just not worth the productivity hit, pleasant to ponder while there though). Music on loud, from dance to heavy metal.
Startup routine: peek at some blogs I follow (doing some critical thinking helps) and check some news. Dangerous to check email though. I also don't answer the phone during writing time unless it's an emergency call.
 

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Nice thread!

What genres do you write, and what are the length of your works?
Sci-fi. First novel was 90K. Second one is going to be about 70K.

What software or web sites do you use every day?
Scrivener for writing.
Sigil for editing ePubs.
Calibre for unpacking Scrivener-created MOBI files into ePubs which I can edit in Sigil. (Phew!)
Kindle Previewer for turning ePubs back into MOBI files :)
(The last few aren't every day, but they're crucial.)
All the sales reports sites once or twice a day (KDP, Kobo, Smashwords, Createspace).
Writers Cafe!
All the usual indie blogs (Konrath, DWS, Passive Voice, etc.)
Wordpress for blogging on my site http://dan-harris.net.
Read Tor.com, sciencefictionworld.com and io9 for sci-fi and fantasy inspiration.

What PDA/personal organizer/system do you use to keep organized?
Scrivener tracks all of the actual writing projects.
Excel spreadsheet to track sales, expenses, promotional efforts, review submissions, etc.
Back-up my writing folder to Dropbox every morning when I turn on my PC, and after every session.

Do you write in different places? Go to coffee shops?

80% at my desk. 20% at the dining table when my office gets too hot. (Damned Brazilian weather.)

What's your best tricks to get yourself to write?

Scotch, or wine if it's already open.
Noise-cancelling Sennhauser headphones playing rain noise from http://rain.simplynoise.com.
 

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This sounds like a fun one. ;D

What genres do you write, and what are the length of your works?

Erotica (a whole ton of weird and wonderful subgenres) and Erotic Romance. Everything so far is in the format of 3-6k word short stories, with some being part of longer serials.

What software or web sites do you use every day?

Openoffice, Kindleboards, Amazon and Smashwords, my blog/twitter, and a collection of other writing/erotica themed sites, though rarely all in the same day.

What PDA/personal organizer/system do you use to keep organized?

I have a habit of keeping my brain as my organiser more often than I should, but I have numerous text documents scattered around my writing folders with notes and plans and reminders. I keep a couple of templates in Openoffice with formatting for different sites, google docs and a flash drive for backups.

Do you write in different places? Go to coffee shops

I have a really hard time writing anywhere that isn't my bedroom/study. It's my zen writing shrine.

What's your best tricks to get yourself to write?

Do it! Shut up brain I don't care if you're tired, do it! So what if you don't feel inspired, after a hundred words you'll think differently! I'll make you think differently.
WHY AREN'T YOU WRITING YET
*whipcrack*

Also a glass of wine helps.
 

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What genres do you write, and what are the length of your works?

I write dark fantasy, horror, and science fiction for teens and adults. All of it tends to have a strong romantic element to it. Although I've written some short fiction and novellas, I'm happiest around 70-90K.

What software or web sites do you use every day?

MS Word. I use Text Block Writer for outlining/story notes. (But I'm playing around with this Workflowy thing, which seems fun!) I use an online countdown timer to time either my writing or my breaks. I like to make specific project playlists on playlist.com, but I listen to the VH-1 free internet radio a lot too. I have experimented with using software to turn off the internet, and it can be useful, but I don't feel the need to use it every day. (Plus, it cuts off my music except for what's on my hard drive.)

Stuff I use not every day, but sometimes:
-istockphoto, where I buy most of my stock for covers
-photoshop, where I make covers
-notepad++, where I code html for ebooks
-I have a wordpress blog. I go there occasionally to write posts and to spiff it up.
-I check in on my facebook fan page every few days or so
-I like to use google image searches for inspiration occasionally.


What PDA/personal organizer/system do you use to keep organized?

Mmm... I use Excel to track money and sales and to figure out my taxes and junk.
I have a to do list on my protopage homepage, but I don't have a lot of stuff I have to remember to do, really. I mean, all I have to do is write, edit, make covers, format, and publish. I seem to have internalized these steps.

Do you write in different places? Go to coffee shops?

Nope. I got myself a whole room to turn into an office, and I stays here for most of the day.

What's your best tricks to get yourself to write?

Honestly, right now I'm working on facing my fears of writing, which I find hold me back. I get afraid that what I'm writing is no good, or that it's derivative, or that I'm writing stuff that won't make me any money, or that I'm overworking myself, or any number of things. As I face each fear and learn to live with them, I'm hoping to write more.

On the other hand, I like my current 4K a day/5 days a week schedule, and if I don't end up catching up with Elle Casey any time soon, I'll be okay with my current output.
 

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What genres do you write, and what are the length of your works?  I write horror, thrillers, mysteries and one detective novel.  They tend to be anywhere from 65,000 words to 90,000 words.

What software or web sites do you use every day?  I use Google Docs for my work.  I gave up using Microsoft products a couple of years ago.  I use WordPress for my website.

What PDA/personal organizer/system do you use to keep organized?  I keep notes in Google Docs and I use a simple blank Moleskine-like notebook.

Do you write in different places? Go to coffee shops?  I mostly write at home, but I do go to libraries and coffee shops sometimes.

What's your best tricks to get yourself to write?  My "day job."  Having to do that and dreaming of writing as my only job is enough motivation to keep at it.
 

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Pearson Moore
on
How I Work

What genres do you write, and what are the length of your works?

I write critical nonfiction, science fiction, and historical fiction. My published works range from 16K (my brief introduction to Game of Thrones) to 190K (one of my University Edition LOST books). Most of my published work is in the range of 80K to 120K.

What software or web sites do you use every day?

I continue to do most of my writing in MS Word, even though I own a copy of Scrivener and a few other word processing softwares. I use MS Paint and Irfan for simple photo and illustration cropping and manipulation, Campaign Cartographer 3 for maps, Excel for vocabularies and grammars (for sci-fi conlangs). Website usage depends heavily on my research interests. At the moment, I frequent sites dealing with commercial aviation, early human civilisation, early human warfare, early 19th century European and British history, metallurgy, Neanderthal physiology and culture, and several other topics, all of them in support of my work on Deneb, a sci-fi novel to be published in March 2013.

What PDA/personal organizer/system do you use to keep organized?

Even when I used my PDA on a daily basis it was for following the news, not for staying organized. I should be using Scrivener, but I still find myself outlining and putting ideas into a 70-page 8.5" x 11" paper notebook.

Do you write in different places? Go to coffee shops?

I rarely write anywhere other than at my desk in my office. Occasionally I'll take my work to a Caribou or a Tim Hortons.

What's your best tricks to get yourself to write?

Daily and monthly targets seem to do the trick for me. I allow the daily target to float, depending on the type of work I need to do. For instance, on a particular day I may need to research something before I can write about it, so I may allot only 500 words for the day. If I am working on a major scene or trying to rip my way through a chapter and all the research and outlining is done and I have nothing else on my plate for the day, I may aim for 4000 words. I met November's monthly goal of 85,000 words, but I fell short of December's goal. January and February are to be given over to 2nd draft and rewrites, but I will have weekly and monthly expectations for the chunks of the novel that must be rewritten to that point.
 

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What genres do you write, and what are the length of your works?

Science fiction, fiction, horror. From 2K to 120K.

What software or web sites do you use every day?

Pages.

What PDA/personal organizer/system do you use to keep organized?


Google calendar.

Do you write in different places? Go to coffee shops?

In bed.

What's your best tricks to get yourself to write?

I open my WIP and stare at it. It eventually blinks.
 

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These are questions? Come on people, we're writers. How about questions like: do you ever have sex on your writing desk? Do you ever eat on your writing desk? Ever do both at the same time?

Come on, let's spruce these up a bit.
 

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What genres do you write, and what are the length of your works?

I'm going to say general fiction as my work is all over the map. I just published a sci-fi story. Prior to that it was the first book in a series of monster stories. I had a kid's story about global warming before that, and prior to one I wrote a thing about Revelations as interpretted through a zombie apocalypse. I hate to write the same thing twice, and I like to experiment in different genres. The thinking is that as long as the characters are people I'd want to read about and the story makes me think, other people will enjoy it for those same reasons. Length is another thing that's all over the place. A lot of my stuff falls in the novelette-novella range. I've published a few short stories and am currently working on a fantasy novel. The second book is my monster series is probably going to end up being novel length too, depending on how much is hacked and slashed away in the editing process.

What software or web sites do you use every day?

I use Microsoft Word for writing and Scrivener for publishing. Google is used pretty often for research and grammar check, which takes me all over the Internet and leads to some pretty interesting distractions. If you haven't seen that video of the guy with the jar, I don't recommend it at all.

What PDA/personal organizer/system do you use to keep organized?

For my shorter works, I just keep notes and outlines at the end of the document so all I have to do is scroll down. For longer stories, I keep a corkboard on the wall by my desk and have it filled with notecards. Every main character gets their own stack of cards pinned together, usually filled with their history, motivation, and other such details. Every chapter. I keep stacks of settings, important groups of people and their common purpose. Pretty much everything I need is all right there, which makes it easy for me pay attention to motifs, themes, and the like. I also have this character development sheet that I posted in my blog. I highly recommend everybody use it: http://keithblenman.blogspot.com/2011/12/repost-character-development-part-2.html

Do you write in different places? Go to coffee shops?

I mostly write at my desk and around the house. I also attend a poetry workshop for high school kids that a friend of my mine hosts. I try to help out the kids who also write fiction, but it's also a good experience just listening poetry and structure. I've started noticing a lot of changes in my own craft since I started attending. We meet in the back of a local coffee shop every week. I try to get there an hour or two early so I can work on my fiction for a bit while everyone gets set up.

What's your best tricks to get yourself to write?

I find I do my best writing when I'm tired, and my best editing when I'm wide awake. So I like to write late at night when the rest of the world is asleep. I try to cap off my day with a little creativity, although with homework and my job it isn't always possible. But even then, I don't let myself go an entire week without writing. If I've been too busy for a while, I set an evening aside specifically for it, and will even break plans to make sure I keep writing. It doesn't always matter what, just as long as I put something to paper.

I also find learning and studying new things inspires a lot of fiction. They say to write what you know, so to add realism to my fiction, I went back to school for degrees in biology and forensic investigation. My latest book, Bonnie Before The Brain Implants, I wrote mostly because I was in a chemistry class and feeling incredibly discouraged. The teacher was lousy. I had a hard time maintaining interest. My GPA definitely took a dip. So over the Thanksgiving break I wrote a story more or less about why science is cool and the fun of experimenting and discovering new things. I guess that's a bit of a reversal, using fiction to inspire my life. But it works and I have something to show for it. Getting that something to sell is a different matter though.
 

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vrabinec said:
These are questions? Come on people, we're writers. How about questions like: do you ever have sex on your writing desk? Do you ever eat on your writing desk? Ever do both at the same time?

Come on, let's spruce these up a bit.
Since my bed is my writing desk, yes.

Since my tv is at the foot of my bed, yes.

Since this is a family friendly forum I'll just decline to answer the 3rd question with any specificity.
 
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