Odd habits and strange stuff writers do, to help them write
It’s Friday the 13th and weird shit tends to go down on Friday 13th.
Events that have happened on Friday 13th include a 13-year-old kid being struck by lightning at 13:13, the Costa Concordia cruise ship sank, and one bloke decided to stay home to avoid any bad luck only for the floor of his apartment to collapse causing him to fall to his death. Apparently.
So yeah, bad stuff tends to occur. But rather than fear Friday 13th or let superstitious behaviour get the better of me, I thought I’d find a way to celebrate the weird. But not just any weird, the weirdness of writers.
Writers are an odd bunch
But that oddness deserves to be celebrated. It’s often our offbeat nature that fuels our creativity and keeps us productive.
What better time to celebrate the weirdness than today, so I asked some copywriter mates to answer this question:
“What slightly odd working habits do you have that help you write?”
To get the ball rolling I shared a couple of my own oddities that affect my writing. It seems I have a few.
- I have to have music on that fits the theme or mood of what I’m writing. When I start working on a different project, I change the music
- I can’t bring myself to delete anything – I have to have a scratch sheet for every project
- I have to be sat at my desk and writing no later than 8:30 am or I get twitchy (9 am on co-working days is acceptable)
- I can only have my second cup of tea after I’ve completed at least an hour of work
- I can’t get started on work until I’ve put my jewellery on — all eight of my rings, earrings and a necklace.
Thankfully, I’m not the only one with crazy writing habits.
Copywriters are weird
Let’s start with Zoe Simmons. You know Zoe means business when she whips her hair up. “I know this is really weird, but I have to have my hair tied high up to write. If I’m getting creative, I just don’t like my hair touching my face, shoulders or neck. Having it tied up just makes me feel like I’m ready to do some great work and kick content butt.”
While Zoe needs to have her hair in place, it’s more of a whole head thing for Kate Toon. “I have a special writing hat with lobster tentacles that I wear when working on really tough projects. I also can’t eat anything while I write so live on a constant supply of aniseed balls and, weirdly, I struggle to read copy that’s not Arial, 11 point, 1.5 spacing. It makes my brain hurt!”
You’re not alone Kate. Amy McDermott is a weird type too. “I use different fonts depending on what I’m writing. My brand font is Tahoma, but if I’m writing books, I’ll use Palatino. If a little more creative, I’ll try Courier. If a serious tone is required, I’ll choose Times New Roman. Is that weird?”
Yep, totally weird but that’s the whole point of this article, so Amy I applaud your oddness.
What about location and where we’re able to sit and write? Part of the beauty of being a writer is that we’re able to take our laptop or notebook wherever we want and start beavering away on the next masterpiece.
“Where I sit in a room is a big thing,” confesses Kelly Stone. “I have to be in the corner looking out at the room or café I’m working in. Or I have to be in front of a window. I hate having my back to a room or the wider world.”
Kelly also has a thing about timers. “I can’t start a project unless my timer is running. Even if there’s no deadline looming and time is inconsequential to the project itself, I still have to have the timer going to keep me working.”
It seems writers are pretty time sensitive. Especially when it comes to the times of day when we’re most productive.
Kate Crocker is a morning writer. But not like 8 am. We’re talking early mornings. “I’m at my best when I’ve just rolled out of bed and it’s like 5 am. I grab a cup of coffee and I start writing while in my PJs and slippers.”
It’s a similar story for Di Clements, although it sounds like she takes a more leisurely approach. “I only start work after breakfast and two cups of coffee. To get going I need absolute quiet and I never work anywhere but in my home office.”
At the other end of the day is Cal Chickwendu. “I seem to focus better once the sun goes down. Maybe I’m a vampire?” Ooft! Definitely can’t relate. I’d need to be highly coffinated to write in the evenings.
(Yes, I constructed that whole sentence just so I could make that pun.)
Earlier, we heard how Kate Toon has a hat to helps her concentrate. But for Dee it’s all about what’s under her desk. “I have a ball that I keep under my desk and roll it around with my feet. For some reason it helps me focus.”
And then there’s Kate Merryweather who uses a focus technique that’s a completely new one on me.
“When I’m faced with a blank screen and the words aren’t coming, I use this little hack. I put on music and type out the lyrics as I hear them. I fill a page with jumbled lyrics (Snow by Informer is a tough one to type in real time). Weirdly, this gets me into the writing flow. It sends a signal to my brain that it’s time to write. After a page or so of typing, I’m ready to write proper words that make sense. Plus, it’s helped me improve my touch-typing speed.”
Are you a weird writer?
It feels like we’ve just scratched the surface of the weirdness that’s out there. And I don’t believe the weirdness is limited to only copywriters.
Let’s celebrate your weird working thing this Friday 13th. Chuck it in the comments below and own what makes you odd!