Hocus Pocus Writing Tag
In honor of Halloween, I decided to do the Hocus Pocus Writing Tag by Kim Chance and Destiny Murtaugh! This is my first time doing a writing tag and, since this one came from YouTube and I don’t have a channel there, I’m sharing my answers here on my new website.
1) Sarah, Mary, and Winifred Sanderson: Being a witch is hard, but so is writing. If you had magical, witchy powers, what aspect of writing or what part of the process would you magically skip over?
Personally, I love editing. Taking something that’s already written and making it better is so much easier than starting with a blank page. However, drafting isn’t the part that I would skip. I would skip the research stage. If I could magically have all the information required to write my story, I’d be one happy writer. Even if I still had to read/learn the info, being able to summon the right resources would save so much time by not having to physically go search for it myself. Since writing a book is such a big time investment, every saved minute/hour/day means more time to focus on the writing.
2) Max and Dani: What relationships tend to be at the core of your books? Friends? Family? Romance?
I’m still working on my first novel, but friendship and family play important roles in my protagonist’s life. Family has a deeper effect throughout the story, though friendships are more prominently shown. (My protagonist is lucky to have such good friends because book one has some dark moments for him…) Romance also plays a part in my characters’ lives but it’s not necessarily the focus of my story.
3) Amuck, amuck, amuck!: How do you approach the chaos that is drafting? Are you a plotter, a pantser, or a combo of both?
I am most definitely a plotter! I need my book broken down into easy to follow sections before I start writing or my characters run away with the story and leave me stumbling around in the dark. My outline is written out by chapter and each chapter has its own bullet list to follow. I also take copious notes as I write, and I’m constantly editing my outline when new inspiration strikes. I don’t trust myself to remember anything long term. I’ve burned myself too many times by not writing down an idea and then forgetting it once I need it.
4) I Put A Spell On You: How do you deal with book ideas that want to pull your focus from your main WIP?
I’ve had several instances of new book ideas popping into my head while working on my WIP. Some of them were worth writing down, so I took a short break to write a quick synopsis of the idea and then thought dumped whatever else might be useful when I have time to return to it later. At most, I’ve only invested a couple of hours during each of these instances, but I would give myself a couple of days if I needed it to get the new ideas out of my head in order to refocus. It’s ultimately a time saver because I’m not distracted by trying to hold onto the idea while also writing a different story.
5) Thackery Binx: Things aren’t always what they seem. Think back to when you first started writing, to where you are now. How has your process transformed from then to now?
I was 13 when I first started working on what is now my WIP. Needless to say, I had no idea what I was doing back then. I had a general idea for my story and wrote a few chapters before getting a severe case of writer’s block, and then set it aside for awhile in an attempt to clear my mind. When I came back to it, I had better ideas for how the story should go and I started with a fresh document. After a few chapters, though, writer’s block set in and I put it aside once more. This happened several times.
Some people can “fly by the seat of their pants” when writing a book, but I don’t work well that way. Not yet anyway. Having a rough idea of my plot wasn’t enough back then. I doubt that I would have written a print-worthy book at 13, but knowing exactly where my characters were going would have given me a greater chance of actually finishing the first draft. Now, I write down as many details as possible so that I’m never lost during the drafting process. If I think of something new or better while writing, I stop what I’m doing and make a note of it in the highly likely event that my brain isn’t as reliable as I want it to be.
6) My Lucky Rat Tail: Do you have a writing ritual? If not, what are some of your favorite writing tools?
Coffee. It’s more of a habit than a necessity but I write so much better with a cup of coffee next to me. I’ve associated it with the writing process and my mind now automatically flips on the creative switch when I brew a pot.
My favorite writing tools at the moment are the Writeometer and Mindly apps from the Google Play Store. Writeometer is great for doing sprints, and Mindly has been really helpful in the brainstorming stage.
7) Booooooookkk: Favorite writing craft book?
Currently reading Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody. I had heard so many writers talk about the original Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder and I jumped at the opportunity when I learned a version was coming out specifically for novels and pre-ordered it. I haven’t gotten very far yet, but I’ve already learned so much in the little that I’ve read. Other great books include The Elements of Style, The Emotion Thesaurus, and On Writing by Stephen King.
8) Another Glorious Morning: Do you enjoy writing in the morning? Or do you prefer the evening, like Winifred?
I am NOT a morning writer. I’m not much of a morning person at all. I tend to do most of my writing during the afternoon, but nighttime is when I’m most naturally creative. It’s partly due to being a night owl by nature, but I think the main reason is that my son is asleep and my “mom brain” can turn off for the day. Unfortunately, I’m exhausted by the end of the day and I can’t always utilize the inspiration that comes with the darkness properly.
9) The Black Flame Candle: What’s one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made so far in your writing journey? OR What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Aside from not outlining well enough, I think the biggest mistake I’ve made was thinking that I couldn’t write when I wasn’t inspired. Inspiration is great when it’s there, but the truth is that you just have to push through and get the work done most of the time. The nice thing for me is that gritting my teeth and hammering out some words usually summons the inspiration once I’ve gotten a few hundred words down. It just requires a little persistence to get there.
10) Billy Butcherson: What’s a trope that most people hate, but you love and would like to see “come back from the dead”?
This one is tough. I suppose, for Halloween, I could say vampire/werewolf/human love triangles… I wouldn’t necessarily say that I LOVE this trope, but there is something fun in mortal enemies sharing a common desire. If done well, I enjoy the supernatural creatures are “misunderstood” stories. They do have to be done well, though, or it’s difficult to take them seriously. I previously DNF’d a number of books for being Twilight wannabes that lacked originality and eventually got burned out on the trope.
Another one that I enjoy is the bodyguard-falls-in-love-with-their-charge trope. One of my first encounters with this one came from a favorite series that I read as a teenager, and I’ve had a fondness for it ever since.
11) Come Little Children: Songs that give a “hypnotic” focus when writing? I.e., favorite songs on your playlist?
I love Celtic music while I’m writing. It sets the perfect mood for my world and it’s so easy to get lost in the music since there are no lyrics. So far, I haven’t needed any specific “mood music” while writing individual scenes but I imagine that I’ll get to that point when I’m going through edits.