Oh boy, do I wish the beginning of school meant I got to buy all that new shiny stuff – like most of you, I get a physical joy out of fresh paper and notebooks – and pens, I love pens.

So this week’s Write on Wednesday is inspired by back to school, and it takes the form of a questionnaire/meme. Participate by going to Becca’s blog, or if you don’t blog, post your thoughts here. I’d love to know what you think.

1. Do you write fiction or non-fiction? Or both? – I write nonfiction. I always say that I don’t have enough imagination to write fiction, but the truth is that I find real life odd and exciting and don’t think I could make up characters very well. I read a lot of fiction though.

2. Do you keep a journal or a writing notebook? I actually keep a couple of journals. One is my morning journal, where I do writing exercises. The other sits by my bed and is more a diary or space for my dreams. My mom and I also exchange a journal with each other. I highly recommend that.

3. If you write fiction, do you know your characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts before you start writing or is that something else you discover only after you start writing? Do you find books on plotting useful or harmful? Not really applicable to my writing (see #1), but I do find it really important to understand my own motivations, both as writer and character, when I create a scene. I also find it’s important to look at plot (or in my case narrative arc) to be sure that a reader will enjoy the work.
4. Are you a procrastinator or does the itch to write keep at you until you sit down and work?
I am both a procrastinator and someone who does not feel well – even physically – when she is not writing. The practice of writing is not always pleasant for me, but when I don’t do it, I feel off-kilter, so I usually come back quickly.

5. Do you write in short bursts of creative energy, or can you sit down and write for hours at a time? Occasionally, I sit and write for several hours at a time, but that’s usually for more academic projects where the thought process is too complex for me to risk losing the through-line. But mostly, I’m constrained by a schedule that only allows me to write in short bursts – an hour tops most days. But that’s enough if I’m consistent with it.

6. Are you a morning or afternoon writer? I write in the morning 99% of the time. I need to do that before my head gets clouded with other people’s voices, particularly those of my students. Plus, when I’ve done my writing I feel like I’ve done what I heard Sven Birkerts once describe as my “real work.”

7. Do you write with music/the noise of children/in a cafe or other public setting, or do you need complete silence to concentrate? I often write with music. I have an Itunes playlist on my computer that is called “Writing Music.” Other noises don’t bother me, and infrequently, I’ll write in a cafe. But since I usually write in the morning before I’m even dressed (like now), it’s best for me to stay in my own home. Nobody needs to see me looking like this.

8. Computer or longhand? (or typewriter?) I would love to get one of those old typewriters with the stand-up keys, but alas, I have not found one I can afford. So I write on my computer except for when I journal. Sometimes I’m hit by the need to write something down, and then of course I write it in longhand – but mostly I”m a computer girl.

9. Do you know the ending before you type Chapter One? Or do you let the story evolve as you write? I try not to write to a specific ending. One of my teachers, Ted Gup, advised us against that, and that’s some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten. When I write to a specific point or ending, I end up waxing pedantic or losing myself in abstraction rather than staying in the visceral physicality of a piece.

10. Does what’s selling in the market influence how and what you write? I’d like to say, “No way,” but that would be a lie. I don’t often consciously think about what will get published, but since I try to stay current in the trends of my genre, I’m sure that what’s being published now – i.e. what the market likes – determines my own writing a bit. Plus, I do write a bit of journalism, so that’s always market driven.

11. Editing/Revision – love it or hate it? Love it, love it, love it. While I’m sometimes thrilled by what I write the first time (okay, I’m thrilled by one sentence or two of it), I take great pleasure in the craft of writing, in shaping things, in creating rhythm, in playing with structure and images. I love revision.

Thanks for this, Becca; so much fun. And now my writing practice for the day is done, and I’m back to the paying job.