1. I’m an outliner, but not a strict one. I like to have the major plot points and the protagonist’s and antagonist’s main motives and goals written on a small scrap of paper on my desk, but these are just starting points. In every story I’ve written, whether short or novel-length, as I discover details of the main character’s backgrounds due to the choices they make, or unforeseen side characters pop up, or a certain situation arises I didn’t see coming, my original outline drastically changes. But always for the better.
2. When I sit down in front of my computer to write a first draft, I wear a hooded-jacket and have to put the hood on. It closes me off from the outside world, allows me to forget where I am so I can go anywhere the story takes me.
3. When I hit a snag in a story, I get up and pace around the house–I have the luxury of being home alone most of the morning and early afternoon–sometimes for hours, talking out loud to myself, until I work through it.
4. I’m usually a morning writer, but often my best revisions and ideas come in the middle of the night. I keep a notebook and pen on my bedside table and have learned how to write notes in the dark so I don’t wake my wife.
5. I like to listen to music or have ESPN radio on in the background when I write my first draft, but I want silence when I revise. The music I listen to ranges from heavy metal to classic rock to hip-hop. It depends upon my mood that day.
6. I write my first draft quick, get the bulk of the story down as I watch it play out in my mind. In my second pass over the story, I edit for content only, making sure there are no glaring plot holes or character inconsistencies. The next passes (however many it takes) my wife calls my crazy editing phase. I cut words, edit for grammar, shift or add chapters or paragraphs if needed, and on and on.
7. I research both before and during the entire writing process. Thank God for the internet and public libraries!