Confronting Superstitions

I am as superstitious as the next person when it comes to my writing.  I must do it this way, I must clear that off my desk before I write.  There’s always something.  Its something I think most of us can relate to.  Everyone has their writing foibles, bad habits, quirks, or superstitions.

For the past 9 months or so, I’ve been struggling to break mine.  Do you know what the worst one was?  When I was working on edits for WITCH EYES for Colleen (way back at the end of 2008), I would get on the computer in the morning during my free time before work…and I had to win a game of Spider Solitaire (set on Medium) before I could open my writing file.

Now if this was regular solitaire, or Freecell, no big deal, right?  Play a game, MAYBE two, then get to writing.  No, but Spider Solitaire is SO MUCH HARDER.  There were really bad days where I spent hours losing game after game after game before I finally got close to winning.  That was a habit that had to go.  So one day I just refused to Spider Solitaire even though my hands were shaking with a need to fill up my free cells with a King or a 7.

Then it was smoking.  I had to smoke while I worked.  (Yes, I was a smoker).  So I quit smoking.  And let me tell you, those first few rounds of edits were ROUGH.  I wanted to start drinking just to take the edge off.  Going from a crutch to no-crutch is a very humbling experience.  Because suddenly, despite the fact that you averaged 1,000 words a day since pre-school, the 5 words you’ve written since Monday are the worst words that have ever existed in the history of man.  And God forbid you add a sixth word to the pile.  It will immediately make all 5 words before it even worse.

It used to be I couldn’t show anyone my WIP without immediately panicking that the unfinished book was now RUINED.  (This one happened as recently as last summer).   Or the one that said if I put my funny, awesome lines of dialogue out there in the universe, someone was going to point out they were terrible, and/or derivative.  I also felt like I couldn’t edit as I went along – I’d have to wait until the draft was done to make changes.  Yeah, the fix to this one was easy: write a terrible book.  Now I tweak as I go, because it stops me from wandering, and it also reminds me where I was going.

The only quirk I really subscribe to now is not so much a writing superstition so much as it is convenience.  I have to have my computer facing the window so I can look outside while I write, and I have to have headphones to drown out the normal apartment sounds going on around me.

So this is my challenge to you.  Have a superstition that maybe makes your writing life harder than it does easier?  Challenge it.  See if you can do it without giving in.  Give it time, push through the pain.  Maybe it’ll work for you too.


Some of you may have heard about the YA Rebels, a new vlog group that has started up consisting of a bunch of YA writers.  I’m the Saturday over there, and a lot of interesting people are filling in the rest of the week.  (But we know Saturday is the most important, right?) You can go here to see the channel, and my intro video from last week, in which I talk about how I got kicked in the face is right here.

And the writing update for week 1 of 2010:


27648 / 80000 words. 35% done!

3 thoughts on “Confronting Superstitions

  1. I hear ya on the Spider Solitaire. I was similarly addicted. The only way I managed to get rid of that particular superstition was to flip it: I told myself I would lose every game unless I didn’t start until after I got my words in. So, on days I don’t write (for whatever reason), I don’t get to play.

    Writing is all about the mind games…

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