Archive for May 2nd, 2019

“The fuel for my books is a 50/50 mix of dark roast java and printer toner”: jazz scholar Ted Gioia on writing.

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019
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I didn’t know that I had quite so much in common with jazz scholar and friend Ted Gioia until I read  “Award-Winning Historian and Bestselling Author Ted Gioia On The Keys To Productive Research and The Most Important Rule Of Writing” over at the Writing Routines website.

Unlike Ted, however, I left pad and pencil behind at my first newspaper job, as a 17-year-old cub reporter at the Pontiac Press. I was writing, literally writing, a story when an editor brushed by me and said, “Here, we compose on the typewriter.” And so I did. (That’s right – typewriter. Remember those?)

Other than that, we differ only in the brand of coffee. Mine at right. Brew it strong enough and you can stand a spoon up in it.

An excerpt from the Q&A:

When and where do you like to write? Are you the same-thing-every-day kind of writer or can you write anytime, anywhere?

Over the years, I have tried every possible writing routine. My first book was written longhand while sitting at a desk in a library—and I had to hire a typist to turn my scribblings into a publishable manuscript. By the time, I wrote my second book, I had purchased one of the very first Apple computers, but adapting to the digital age was challenging. The floppy disk containing two chapters of that book somehow got damaged, and I had to recreate the text from various notes and earlier drafts. But I persisted with digital technology, and now can’t imagine working without it.

Writer’s block? Ha! (Photo D, Shafer)

Today I write in a quiet home office with two computers, and my large personal library near at hand for consultation.

Do you have any pre-writing rituals or habits before you sit down to write?

Probably the only essential pre-writing ritual is a cup of coffee—preferably Major Dickason’s Blend from Peet’s. Other pre-writing rituals can easily become distractions, so I avoid them. But the coffee is essential. The fuel for my books is a 50/50 mix of dark roast java and printer toner.

What do you do when the writing doesn’t come easy? Do you struggle at all with that dreaded enemy of writing: writer’s block? Do you think such a thing exists?

I don’t believe in writer’s block. If I waited for inspiration before I began writing, I would never get anything finished, or even started, for that matter. I set aside time every day to write. When I sit down and start, I am prepared—because I have spent much of my life in preparation for the writing projects I undertake.

Read the rest here