September Round Robin: Strange writing practices


This month’s theme ism what writing practices do you have that you think are eccentric or at least never mentioned but you find helpful?

Of course, I firmly believe that all my writing practices are entirely normal, natural, and average {grin}.


Well, maybe there are one or two things.

I never listen to music when I write, which I gather is somewhat unusual. I’m a fairly serious amateur musician — I play the flute and the piccolo — and in addition,  I’m very auditory. When I turn on the music, I listen to it to the exclusion of anything else. I do, however, find myself whistling (no particular song) when I’m concentrating. I also talk to myself. This morning my spouse asked me if I found my responses enlightening. I answered yes.

I’m a native New Yorker, born and raised in Manhattan. My mother was very fond of classical music. She and her friends had subscriptions to the New York Philharmonic, and when one of the group couldn’t make it, she would sometimes take me.  I would try to pick out the voices of the individual instruments from the sound of the orchestra as I listened to the music. I got pretty good at it, too. But it did leave me unable to ignore most music when it’s playing.

Another habit of mine that may be unusual is that I put *** FIXME **  with a comment into the text of whatever I’m working on whenever there’s something that I need to come back to. This makes it easy to search for whatever it was that I wanted to deal with later.

** NERD ALERT ** I earn my living as a computer software engineer, and I picked up this particular habit from some open source software that I was porting to a proprietary operating system. The debugging information involved a then-new scheme, and the code (not all of which would work with our software in any case) was peppered with the original coder’s comments, prefaced with — you guessed it — FIXME.

The other thing I’d like to mention is something *everyone* should be doing: backing up your work. I keep copies  of my work in a cloud — I use Google drive — which not only backs it up, but also makes it accessible on any computer. This has saved my ass more than once, most especially the time where my now happily former computer suffered a head crash. The computer wouldn’t boot up, and I was forced to restore the original copy of the OS, minus all the software I’d installed and, most importantly, any documents I’d saved on my computer.


Check out the posts of my fellow bloggers:
Skye Taylor
A.J. Maguire
Beverley Bateman
Dr. Bob Rich
Rachael Kosinski
Anne Stenhouse
Connie Vines
Helena Fairfax
Victoria Chatham
Margaret Fieland
Rhobin Courtright


6 thoughts on “September Round Robin: Strange writing practices

  1. Skye-writer

    Other than specific details that I need to find that I think are going to influence the plot before I move on, I do a similar to the Fixme, although I like the Fixme thing and might have to adopt it. What I usually do is highlight the bit that needs fixing so it’s easy to find later. Another writer friend suggests typing the word emotion which of course I highlight when I do it to remind myself to come back and add or enlarge the emotion going on. This is especially helpful if the action is fast paced and you don’t want to lose your momentum.


  2. Rhobin

    I write to TV noise which I think of as white noise, and use > within my text so I can search and find areas needing work, and like you, save in multiple venues. I think in the posts I’ve noticed similarities show in very different methods. Good post, Margaret!


  3. Dr Bob Rich

    Like you, Margaret, I am very sensitive to sounds, partly because my visual imagery is poor. I can find the radio very distracting when I am concentrating, particularly on something important like a Freecell game or a chess problem.
    However, when I notice my annoyance, I don’t eliminate the noise. Instead, I use it as an opportunity for Buddhist meditative training. It’s there, so what. It invites me to be distracted, but I can decline from complying.
    And the distraction often disappears, while the noise stays.


  4. Helena Fairfax

    Hi Margaret, like you I find it impossible to write with background music, especially if there are lyrics. I can’t help but be affected by the mood of the music and then I’m totally out of my story. I wish I could copy Dr Bob’s example!


  5. annestenhouse

    Hi Margaret, Yep! I use **** when I’ve forgotten a name r the heroine’s hair colour etc. It’s been a real life-saver on occasion. Also, I find ‘find & replace’ really good when a name might have several spellings. anne stnhouse



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