I sent this inquiry to the published authors I have on Facebook: "I wonder if you'd be willing to briefly describe your writing process for those of us who have some idea of someday trying to become writers in our own right. By "process," I mean when do you write, and where -- do you have anything specifically atmospheric (e.g. music, incense, some sort of omnipresent artifact) that you use consistently?"
So far, two of them have answered.
Lakisha Spletzer: My writing process is a little on the disorganized side. But when I do focus, it goes something like this:
I write either at night when my kids are asleep or in the parent drop-off/pick-up line at the school when school is in session.
I do listen to music and lately it's been a lot of Adam Lambert and love songs. I actually went and created playlists for each of my series's websites that is unique to that series that I listen to at home when I write at night.
I can write in noise and I can write in quiet. It's really, for me at least, a matter of focus. If I'm not focuse, I can't write well. I also have to be in a certain mood to do certain stories. Depending on the story I have characters that can be difficult if they don't get my complete undivided attention. Others are not as difficult and I can get in their heads without much fuss.
My suggestion is to find something that works for you and be consistent, if possible. But also be flexible too.
Richard Lee Byers: I work every day Monday through Friday and write a certain number of new words each day. Exactly how many depends on how long the current project is supposed to be and when the deadline is. 1500 new words a day is a good quota for me, although I can do more if I push and have done less when I could get away with going easy on myself.
I start in the morning, break for lunch, and finish afterward. I go for as many hours as it takes to get my quota written.
I begin my writing day by reviewing, revising, and polishing the past couple days' work. Not only is this worth doing for its own sake, it helps me get in the writing groove, so when it's time to start writing new words, they flow a little easier.
I always write on the computer, never with pencil and paper or anything like that. My bedroom is also my workroom, and has a desk for the computer, a good office chair, and shelves for the reference books I use. I don't play any music. I need it quiet. I have hearing protectors like you wear on the shooting range to block out noise when the other people in the house are making enough to distract me.
I don't burn incense or have any sort of special talisman other than the computer. Now that you've mentioned it, I kind of wish I did have a talisman. Maybe it would help.
As for me, I am still constructing my environment. I know I tend to write better away from home (and therefore away from distractions), but I rarely make the time to travel anywhere for the purpose of writing. When I was younger, I wrote quite a bit at Chuck E Cheese's, but I haven't been there in years. You know, for the most part I just write at a table in the middle of the house -- usually my dining room table but I also have a table I can use to use the computer while I am sitting on the couch (which is where I am now). Time of day doesn't matter, but I am great at burning the midnight oil and writing until 3 or 4 in the morning. Less distractions, I suppose. I prefer no music, but I usually have the television on for noise. And I am still waiting for an artifact to take on symbolic meaning: I know I will have one, but I do not know what it will be.