Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Habits We Have

Writing this blog has brought me many unexpected pleasures, not the least of which is having all of you *come* into my life! However, it has also made me examine how I write and has brought some of my habits into sharp relief.

My biggest habit?

I mutter. I mutter a lot.

My muttering roots go back to high school when I was studying for finals.

Moment of silent gratitude for never having to write high school exams again. Especially math.

I learned very quickly that I retained information better if I said it out loud. I think better out loud. This muttering commenced again when I was studying for exams in University.

Another moment of silent gratitude.

When I started writing my mystery games and my novel, I quickly discovered my muttering habit was still with me. I mutter as I plot. I mutter as I discover motives or who each of my characters are. Not all my muttering is productive; I admit to a fair amount of editorial comment such as:

"That makes no sense, you idiot"
"You've already used that motive",
"What this story really needs is a large giraffe to wander in and drop a significant clue".

Strangely enough, I DO NOT say my dialogue out loud. I can hear it clear enough in my head and my years of theatre have taught me what works and what rings false.

My muttering necessitates that I work at home, if I indulge in this habit in public I tend to be the recipient of odd looks.

I choose to believe the odd looks are in response to this quirk, not my wardrobe choices or appearance. Leave me to my delusions. Thank you.

I wander about my house, asking questions. "Why did he/she die?" "How did it happen?" and most importantly, "Why did it have to happen now?" Answers to these questions mean a dash to my laptop and quick notes being written. I will also sit and just type my thoughts as I've discovered just letting my fingers do the talking will (sometimes) lead me to a gem. Gems lead to a satisfied exclamation. Out loud. Yet another reason to stay home.

Do you talk out loud as you write? As you plot? Do your writing habits enable you to be able to write whilst out in the world?


  1. Oh, I'm a talker-out-louder. Sometimes my kids will say, "What are you saying, Mom?" and I didn't even realize I was talking out loud. Funnily enough, I haven't ever talked out loud while writing. Usually while driving. Or cleaning.

  2. No, I do not speak when I write. If I did, I wouldn't be able to hear the voices in my head!

  3. I definitely speak out loud when I edit! Usually trying to come up with different wording...

  4. Elana; Welcome! I talk about my writing when I'm driving and cleaning.

    Alan; My voices are loud enough. What does that mean? Oh dear.

    Crystal; It's really helpful saying it out loud, isn't it?

  5. I'm pretty much the opposite. I don't mutter to myself, but do read dialogue out loud so I can hear it and quickly find what trips me up as I say it.

    Straight From Hel

  6. Elspeth - I mutter all the time, especially when I'm planning what I'm going to write. I have to control myself when anyone's home, so no-one thinks I'm talking to someone else. I should put my Bluetooth in my ear and just pretend I'm having a phone conversation ; ).

  7. I will talk out loud during revision quite a bit. But through the first draft, mum's the word so I can hear what the characters are saying. My kids enjoy pointing out the moments when I do talk to myself. (They keep me humble at all times.) Glad to know I'm not alone!

  8. Helen; That's a good test to use.

    Margot; My muttering is worst when I'm planning. When I'm actually writing the noise is much less. Except for colourful metaphors leaking out from time to time.

    Stacy; I can hear my characters fine; it's when I'm getting to know them that I mutter the most. Aren't kids great? Bless'em. Grrrr.

  9. I speak, laugh, moan, groan, sigh & grumble. My family gets a kick out of now, along with a few giggles. Oh, I giggle too. :)

  10. Depends where I am or what I'm writing. I read out loud after I've written something, and make comments as I'm reading (such as interrupting myself to say, "Well, that's a mouthful" or "what if..."

    If I'm writing in the coffeeshop, however, I'm usually more well behaved. Usually.

  11. Jemi; I giggle occasionally. It must be nice to enjoy such a range of emotions.

    Elisa; I tend to grimace in lieu of muttering which results in rather a no-win in public places.

  12. Sometimes I laugh. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I pound the delete key. But I don't mutter. Maybe it would be better if I did.

  13. I do so much better if I at least re-read everything I've written out loud. And, yes, I mutter to myself too. So far I haven't answered myself (well not more than once or twice). :)

  14. Carol; If that's what works for you, I wouldn't change it. All hail the mighty delete key!

    Mason; I answer myself all the time. I'm not kind.

  15. I mutter. I sputter, and sometimes I scream and tear out my hair.

    Seriously, I do talk through plot issues and read my work aloud, both narrative and dialogue,

  16. This post made me smile. I can see you sitting there, muttering away! Behaving very much like an interesting character in a book yourself.

    I tend to be relatively quiet while I'm typing away. Until I feel ready to read what I've written out loud, which is usually on the second draft. But once in a while my characters make me laugh, or gasp, they crack me up sometimes, and sometimes they shock me.

  17. I mutter, laugh, sometimes shout and even cry when I write.
    But I also read dialog back.
    I can restrain myself if I am writing in public (usually)

  18. Forget when I am writing, I mutter to myself all the time.I don't think there is ever a time when different parts of me are not engaged in a debate in my brain.

  19. Muttering is a nice way of putting it!
    I talk to myself. Much of the day. I pretend I'm talking to the cats and dog. :)

    Mystery Writing is Murder
    Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

  20. I don't really talk out loud...but I do think these things...VERY loudly!

  21. Oh, I'm so happy to learn others mutter, too! I'm not an author, although I have written a couple of short stories for children for entertainment, but I do tend to mutter when I am doing anything creative... my husband hates it. But now with his poor hearing he thinks I'm muttering every time I talk to him!
    Thanks for sharing.


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