Friday, October 30, 2015

The Behind-the-Scenes Writing Tag

Hamlette tagged me with this recently and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time. (Thank you, Hamlette! ;))

Is there a certain snack you like to eat while writing? 

Glass after glass of fresh whole milk. Also, dark chocolate and (at the moment) fruit leather, of all interesting things. :) 

When do you normally write? Night, afternoon, or morning? 

I’m trying to keep flexible with being able to write at any time, but -- unless I’m at a riveting place -- morning definitely seems to be my most productive time. Blog posts I generally tend to write in installments all throughout the day and in between everything else. 

Where do you write? 

As of a couple months ago, I used to only write at the computer in the basement, but since being given another laptop computer I’ve found it hugely stimulating to move around the house. Sometimes the dining table, or sitting in the rocker in the library, or standing by one of the chest freezers in the basement, or sometimes at the sewing desk. 

How often do you write a new novel? 

Each novel is a marathon for me and I generally try to focus on one at a time -- letting the others have time to simmer -- so starting each new project is an infrequent and momentous occasion. 

Do you listen to music while you write? 

Yes!!! Almost always. And different stories have different selections. Right now, for A Flame Shall Spring it’s Cinderella 2015 and Ever After and Dreaming (by André Rieu) and sometimes, Beauty and the Beast

What do you write on? Laptop or paper? 

The laptop, but I have an entire collection of handwritten notebooks and generous piles of miscellaneous scraps of paper covered with all sorts and combinations of oddments. 

Is there a special ritual you have before or after you write? 

No, besides backing up everything connected with my current WIP each and every time I finish a writing session.

What do you do to get into the mood to write? 

I’ve been working hard on making a steady writing habit of late and, thankfully, I think the ‘sitting down and staying with it regardless of mood’ is getting a bit better, BUT I do have certain movies that are a huge part of my process, freshening me up for different stories and generally starting off an explosion of creativity. 

What is always near the place you write? 

This has changed a little with being more mobile, but I still absolutely love the calendar and character collages my sisters made me for On David’s Shoulders

Do you have a reward system for your word count? 

I’m trying to get better with just writing and then being comfortable editing out later, but by default I tend to focus strongly on the less-is-more principle, which -- needless to say -- tends to give a low word count. I do keep microscopic track of it and spreadsheet every last adjustment, which is tremendously helpful for pacing, etc. So all in all, seeing it fluctuate up and down as necessary where the work needs to expand or tighten up, is quite satisfying (not to mention encouraging)!

So... I guess that answer ended up being my overall philosophy on it, but no, I don't have a reward system per se. :)

Is there anything about your writing process that others might not know about? 

For me, whenever a new story arrives, the ending generally always comes first. So before writing I sit down and work back to the beginning and then go forward again, figuring out the major plot points. Then I keep the outlining very low key between those points, leaving plenty of room for character changes and new developments. Sometimes the major incidents shift as the book grows, but so far the built-in flexibility has taken on any and all changes without skipping a beat, so I’m thoroughly happy!

~     ~     ~

Heidi Peterson is a lover of wide-spreading land, summer dust, white pounding waterfalls, and mountain tops; also of good dark coffee and rich stories. Most of all she's a lover of the One who is the Word, the Word made flesh. You can visit her additional blog (where she shares more about books, movies, and further marvels of life) at: Along the Brandywine.

Visit and contact at: Sharing the Journey // Along the Brandywine // ladyofanorien(at)gmail(dot)com


  1. This was so interesting, Heidi! I loved getting a peek into your writing process!
    I really like how you said that staring a new novel is "an infrequent and momentous occasion." I currently have a few story ideas wanting to be dwelt on, but I'm not allowing it until my book is done. I can't afford distractions right now. heehee :)

    1. Natalie,
      I'm so very glad you enjoyed it! And yes, exactly. ;)

      Btw, I finished AFSS(!!!!) and now I'm doing edits, so hopefully you'll be hearing from me super soon. :) I can't wait to read yours!!

    2. Heidi, Oh YAY! I'm so excited to read it!!!! Congratulations!

  2. I love music while I write, too :) I actually make YouTube playlists for each of my stories--it's so much fun picking out songs to suit the characters and it helps me a lot.

    1. jessica,
      How fun! I haven't done YouTube at all, but I do have an entire "soundtrack" put together for my current western novel-in-progress. Such loveliness! ;)

  3. I love the Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast soundtracks! Great writing music.

    1. Meredith,
      Aren't they splendid? I'm so glad you love them, too, and thanks so much for commenting! :)

  4. YES! I must know what the ending of any story or novel is before I can begin. Not just how it ends, usually, but the actual final scene. Must know that. Remember how I tried to start Son of a Gunfighter last spring and got about 500 words in and fizzled? I had a general idea of how it ended, but I didn't know that final scene, and I couldn't progress. The a few weeks ago, I shared a Bobby Darin song with Deborah Koren that I couldn't get out of my head, and I said it always gave me this image of Glenn Ford standing on the edge of a meadow, and all of a sudden this whole scene clicked into place while I was emailing back and forth with her about it -- and I realized that was my ending. And now, I can write!

    I blog in tiny increments all over the place too. Which is why a lot of the time, I get way more blogging than "real writing" done.

    I love how you said I do have certain movies that are a huge part of my process, freshening me up for different stories and generally starting off an explosion of creativity. I'm that way too! And different projects require different movies to give me juice. And, of course, sometimes I *have* to watch movies for *research* that happen to contain whoever has been cast in my current WIP. I feel a spate of Hugh Jackman, Audie Murphy, and Glenn Ford movies coming up...

    1. Hamlette,
      Yes, I remember! (And a note on SOAG coming soon, btw.) Thankfully, thus far the endings for my novels have truly been the pivotal scene that springs to life first -- characters, setting, and conflict resolution complete. (You know, even with all the somersaults that On David's Shoulders has been through, so far the ending setting has never changed? :) And I don't feel dogmatic about it, it's just that it's now so much more right.)

      *grinning* Yes, exactly!! I'm still thrilled in the clouds about AFSS (maybe because it took such a short time to write??), but I can't wait to finish my edits and start giving my undivided attention to ODS material and *research* again. ;)

    2. Poor SOAG, the novel I keep starting and not finishing.

      That's so cool that ODS's ending has not changed! My Fickle Creek ending never changed either. And it's usually the final scene, the denouement, that I'm writing toward, not the climactic finale stuff.

      I'm still that way with RCC! Having zero trouble loving it still. Probably that short time frame, like you said.


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