Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dragonwitch Release Day Blog Tour: Anne Elisabeth's 10 Writing Quirks

Welcome! Today is the last day of the tour and it’s been very interesting reading all the interviews and fun posts over the last few days. 

☐ Be sure to check out the other blog tour participants - the list is at the end. I'm looking forward to reading the character interview. 
☐ Be sure to enter the tour wide giveaway and the giveaway happening on my blog. Two chances to win Anne Elisabeth's books! 

For my part in the tour I asked Anne Elisabeth to tell us about her writing quirks. I’ll leave it up to you to decide how quirky she is.  :-) 

Top Ten Writing Quirks

Okay, I don’t know that I am particularly quirky for a writer. In fact, I know many writers will share these little quirks and would, indeed, look upon them as normal aspects of the writing life. But, perhaps to non-writers these writerly habits might appear on the quirkish side, so here you go, in no particular order . . .

1. Cat in the lap, preferably two
One of her foster kitties!
Since I work with rescue kittens, we often have a collection of little fluffies in the house, making a two-cat-lap situation quite do-able. Currently, we have only my five adult cats, and none of them likes to share, so it’s one cat or nothing. But they serve as excellent anchors to keep me in the chair and writing. After all, one doesn’t like to disturb the cat!

2. Sitting cross-legged while I work
This probably ties into the cat-in-the-lap scenario, since it is difficult to fit two cats (or my big 16lb boy) in my skinny little lap without sitting cross-legged. And even when  I don’t have a cat, I often find myself assuming this position, whether I’m working with my laptop in my lap or sitting at my desk. (Just noticed that I’m doing it even now!) I just find it more comfortable . . . until my legs go to sleep.

3. Always wearing a sweater, no matter the weather
Despite growing up in the North Woods of Wisconsin, I am naturally a cold-blooded creature, and I can never quite get warm enough. So I always have my Writer’s Sweater on hand for a quick fix to that problem! I used to have this really ugly, old sweater that was affectionately known as “Yuck Sweater.” I used it throughout college, and it even has paint on it from art school days. Now I’ve moved on to a sweater of more attractive color, about five times too big for me. It’s very snuggly.

4. Writing openings by hand
I find beginnings particularly difficult to write. They intimidate me. So if I try to sit down and write them directly into my word processor, they usually come out really thin and insipid. Instead, I write all my beginnings by hand in a notebook. This keeps me loose and relaxed, knowing that I’m not trying to make it perfect right away. Often (though not always), the beginnings I pen by hand end up making it into the final draft of the novel!

5. Carrying a “brain”
This is another quirk carried over from college. I always have a beautiful journal with a magnetized front flap and a pocket in the back for important cards, and carry this instead of a purse. It’s more conveniently sized then a purse, and that way I will always, no matter the circumstance, have paper on hand should inspiration strike! I used to refer to it as my “Better-Than-A-Brain,” but my college friends shortened that to just “Brain,” and it stuck. So yeah. I carry a brain. Not a purse. People get used to it.

6. Won’t skip ahead
I feel if you come to a difficult scene in your novel, you shouldn’t skip ahead and write on a passage that’s more interesting or easy. I believe that each scene needs to be interesting to you as the writer so that it will be interesting to the reader. If a scene is giving me extra pain, I believe I need to figure out why, even if it means stalling in the manuscript for several days, even weeks. This way, when I get to the end, there are no holes in the draft, and each scene is interesting and carefully crafted to fit the rest of the book. If I skipped around . . . well, who knows what might happen?

Not everyone writes this way, nor do I think everyone should write this way. But it works better for me!

7. Writing dialogue-only scenes
colorful dialogue, text bubblesSometimes if I am particularly stuck on a scene, I will write it as a dialogue-only scene. No narrative, not even a “he said” or “she said” thrown in here and there. Just the dialogue. Often this helps me to find the core life of a scene without any distractions. Then I can go back and fill in narrative.

If I get a good idea for a scene that is several chapters ahead of where I am currently writing, I’ll plug dialogue-only bits into my outline. Again, I won’t skip ahead in the manuscript! But I’ll set the dialogue into the outline so that it’s there and ready to flesh out once I arrive at that scene.

8. Can’t write with hair down
I have quite long hair, and I really love it. It’s fun to style and curl and scrunch, and I always leave it down when I go out since I think it’s my best feature. But . . . I cannot concentrate if it’s down! When I am working on a manuscript, I have to tie it up out of my way, usually in a big knot on top of my head. This serves a twofold purpose: First, not bothering me while I work—second, it’s got a nice, curly wave to it when I pretty up at the end of  the day for my husband to come home!

9. NO MUSIC. Or basically anyone around
I cannot concentrate if music is playing. Sometimes, if I’m really in the zone, I can work through a little bit of light classical music turned way down . . . but only sometimes! This is why I don’t often end up “soundtracking” my novels as many novelists will. I don’t listen to music for inspiration, certainly not while writing! I also struggle to write if anyone is around. If I try to work on the weekends when my husband is home, he can be quiet as a mouse, and it’ll still sound to me as though he’s stomping around all elephant-like, clanging bells! So he usually goes out to work in the garden over a writing weekend, sweet man that he is.

So basically, I have to have it quiet and calm when I work. No classic writer-in-the-coffee-shop for this cookie!

10. Brainstorm out loud
When I get the first idea or two for a story, I usually don’t write anything out but just let it sit in the back of my brain for a few weeks or months. Then, when I’m starting to get ready to actually write it, I’ll first brainstorm out loud. I’ll call up my long-suffering mother and talk out the idea at her, figuring out answers to any questions she might ask. If she’s not available, my husband has learned to take on that role. They both say I, “Think with my mouth.” Heh. Yeah, kinda.

But, after I’ve talked out the idea, I’m ready to sit down and starting writing out all the various thoughts, putting them into logical, sequential order. And before you know it, a book is born!

So I suppose those are my Top Ten Writing quirks for you! What do you think: quirky or totally normal?


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Anne Elisabeth has offered a copy of Dragonwitch to a reader of Rina's Reading! That means you have two chances to win her books!

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Tour Schedule
July 14 - Day 1

July 15 - Day 2

July 16 - Day 3

July 16 Evening

Blog Tour Finale and Prize Awarded back at the Tales of Goldstone Wood!


  1. I think Mrs. Stengl sounds like a perfectly normal writer. (Or, as normal as any writer is!) I actually share two of those quirks: I never skip ahead and I don't usually write with my hair down (I tend to play with it and get distracted).

    My favorite part of this blog tour . . . that's hard to say. Can I say the whole thing? Because it's been awesome and definitely one of the high points of my week.

  2. Define normal. Ha! As my mom and I have always joked about "normal is only a setting on a dryer." Such a great idea for a list of ten! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I'd say that's pretty quirky, but not in a bad way. People have to do what makes them comfortable in order to be at their most creative. Quirky is good.
    This post is my favorite part of the tour so far. Thanks.

  4. I actually sympathize with a lot of these 'quirks'. I have to write in silence--when I'm brainstorming I like to listen to music, though. I also hate skipping ahead; I always try as much as possible to write chronologically. If I get an idea for a specific scene I'll write it out, but it usually ends up being tweaked by the time it comes to fit the scene into the story.

  5. I sit cross legged when I write too. Don't know why, but I like it, unless the table I happen to be at is too short to get my legs up like that.

  6. I loved hearing about your "Yuck Sweater"! Aside from my bad habit of crossing my legs til one or both feet go numb, I also have to wear a sweater almost all the time, especially writing early in the morning. My sister's both make fun of me because my long knitted jacket sweaters, which are so scraggly and stretched from being worn ALL the time. They call them my "Ugly old lady sweaters" but they are my favorite cause they are never too hot or cold, and they are so long I can wrap them around me when I'm extra cold. :)

  7. As a reader and not a writer I am not familiar with writing quirks but I have found that to have a cat in my lap for school and other tasks is incredibly helpful.

  8. I love this quirk! Although I'm not what I'd consider a writer, when I am hard at work on something, I also like my hair up. I work a desk job & usually end up putting my hair up by the day's end :) So not too quirky, I'd say, just normal :)


  9. My favorite fairy tale is The Twelve Months; I think it's Russian. Most people haven't heard of it, but I always loved the personification of each month.

  10. #1 and #6 - Totally relate!

    #4 - Hmm... I should try that!

    #5 - I actually read a book in which the main character, an Amish woman who ran a bakery but did a lot of business with Englischers, had a binder called her brain. It had all her business and some personal stuff, as well as all her cake designs. It was lost in a fire that took down the whole bakery :(

  11. That is so awesome that you write with cats in your lap! I like to have peace and quiet around me as well! Plus I definitely brainstorm aloud!

    I am really loving this tour so much because it has been interesting in learning more about Ann!

  12. I'd say totally normal. We don't have any indoors cats but I do have a lot of siblings and have gotten used to writing while holding a sleeping baby and when I can't get that I tend to squeeze a pillow. I do numbers 6 and 10 all the time, brainstorming to my sister nearest my age who is kind enough to put up with my jumbled explanations until I can write it down and show her what I mean.


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