Wicked Wednesday – Writers’ Bad Habits

It’s Wicked Wednesday, when we all weigh in on a topic.

Liz here. So earlier this month I was at Porter Square Books in Cambridge with Edith and Barb. We had jokingly promised to tell the audience some of our bad habits, but we never, ahem, got to answer that question! We’re making up for it here on the blog. So Wickeds – what’s your worst habit as a writer? Any other bad habits are fair game too, of course.

Jessie: I have a terrible habit of writing two books at the same time. I don’t mean I have started out to write two books. I mean I get them entangled thinking I am writing one and then later realize I’ve got two separate ones that need prying apart. It even happens when I have outlined the whole book. The bad news is that it’s a lot of work getting that all sorted. The great news is that I don’t usually start a new book with a blank page. Sometimes I start with a third of it written.AgathaPoisons

Edith: That sounds like a great habit, Jessie! One of my bad habits is bookmarking an article, book, or blog post I’m interested in reading but never getting around to actually looking at it. I guess it’s a good habit that I don’t want to interrupt the flow of my work to go read it now, but that often means I never end up reading about the poisons Agatha Christie used in her stories, the best way to promote a book, or another author’s tried-and-true revision process. So much information, so little time…

Liz: Aside from procrastination? Hmm….let me think about it and get back to you…

Barb: Oh, gosh. Too many to mention. One is going to the internet to look up the definition of a single word, or check a tiny fact, falling into the web, and emerging two hours later, bleary-eyed and wondering where the time went.

Julie: How bad is it that I have all of these? Add to them that I eat junk food while writing. I have tried, I promise, to eat carrots and drink unsweetened iced tea. But there’s something about Fritoes and depends-on-the-time-of-day-after-five-Malbec that get my juices flowing.

Sherry: Procrastination is at the top of my list. Letting my desk get messy which makes me feel crowded and distracted is probably number two.

Readers, any bad habits you’d like to share?

13 Thoughts

  1. Following on what Edith said, I don’t just bookmark interesting articles and reports, I print them all out. Some have a genuine file where they end up, but most fill multiple bankers boxes. To be fair, I have occasionally gone fishing through them and pulled out something I remembered (why I saved it!) or that inspires a story idea. But mostly they pile up. And I buy a lot of paper and toner.

  2. Like Sheila, I print material I find on the web and may or may not get back to it, but worse than that, or at least more expensive, I buy reference books on aspects of 16th century life I’m certain I’m going to need for the next historical mystery, take a quick look for obvious material, flag a few pages, put the books on the shelf to get back to for a thorough read “when I have time,” and there they sit, months or years (decades?) later, no doubt full of useful details to add to bring my novels to life, but . . . Even worse, of course, is remembering that I read a certain detail but not being able to locate the source. Was it really historical fact or was it something I read in someone else’s novel, in which case that writer could have made it up.
    Now that I’ve rambled on about that, I can see that I obviously also share that other bad habit mentioned here: procrastination. My office is already hot and humid at 9:30 in the AM. Slaving over a hot computer does not hold a lot of appeal.


    1. I hear you! On recent excursions I bought a two-volume set of History of the Connecticut Valley (Massachusetts) With Illustrations (1879) and a four volume set of Middlesex County and Its People (1927). Together they weigh 30 pounds. But to a genealogist or anyone writing about local history, they are gold! Which doesn’t mean I have shelf space for them.

  3. I can’t count the bookmarks I have that I never go back to?

    You know all those blogs on my sidebar? I rarely visit any of them. As a member of the book blogosphere, I should be out there looking at what others write every day so I am part of the community. I just don’t have the time!

    And can we not discuss messy. I promise, I will clean up this pile of papers soon. And that one. And the one over there. And the mess on my bedroom floor so I can see it again and get to those books cases and….

    1. Me, too, Mark! I am taking a few weeks kind of easy, and every day “Clean up office” is on my list. Has it happened? Not yet. Am I starting a new book on Monday? Yep. We won’t even talk about the odds of it happening by Sunday afternoon!

  4. Guilty of all these things, except Jessie’s. Thank goodness, because that sounds HARD! But my worst vice is procrastination. Sometimes I think I should get a bit Scarlet P sewn onto all my clothes.

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