I wrote Angst in three places. The first place started with a walk, I'd spend a half hour every day walking a path at a nearby park. I would listen to music, typically movie soundtracks, and visualize what I would write about later that day. The second included going to the local bookstore, sipping on a mocha (either hot or cold depending on the weather), sometimes eating a cookie (shhh) and attempting to hammer out what I thought about during my walk. Finally, I spent time hidden away in my mad scientist laboratory (office), where I would have a drink, smoke a cigar, listen to more soundtracks, and pace while world-building.
I created some pretty good habits by the time I finished Angst. This made it almost shocking when I started writing Angst 2. I brushed broad strokes of outlines and plot threads in my office, went to park to walk through some of the finer points to get to the book store and …nothing. Some of the worst writing I've done…since the beginning of the first book. I was at a loss of what to do. This was more than a roadblock, I honestly wondered if I could make it happen again. Unintentionally, I made a little change.
(Skip this next paragraph if you are bored by computer stuff) I've always been a geek (go figure) and have always been a fan of Linux. (An Operating System, like Windows, but free.) For years I have configured my main computer to dual-boot both Ubuntu Linux and Windows. I don't spend a lot of time in Ubuntu because most of the video games I play are written for Windows. Last week Ubuntu released a new version, 11.04 Natty Narwhal (each release is named after an animal.) I decided to upgrade my main computer to the new version, and on a whim I also replaced Windows XP on my netbook, the computer I take to the bookstore, with Ubuntu. My hope was that an operating system without the distraction of my Windows installed games would keep me focused on writing.
After making this change, something clicked. I went to the bookstore and wrote my equivalent of Hamlet. Okay, not really, but I did hammer out some pretty solid pages. Those pages were enough to get my brain thinking of other things that could make the book work. I found myself up late making notes on my phone when I should have been sleeping, and that's not a complaint. Installing Linux on my netbook, and using it on my primary computer, was a minor change without completely overhauling the habits that worked when writing the first book. For whatever reason, I'm inspired to write more. Maybe it's the fun of something new and different, or some unknown switch clicked in my brain. Either way, I'm definitely going to have to keep this in mind next time I hit the block, that a little change can bring results.
A quick plug for Linux, you can read more about it on Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux . If you are interested, with a little research you can find out why it's free and what free means in the GNU world. Chances are you are using Linux now, for example if you have a Droid phone, that's one of the many flavors of Linux. You can find Ubuntu here: http://www.ubuntu.com . The most recent version is beautiful, but I'll admit that I use the 'classic' version with docky on my main computer, and the Unity desktop on my netbook. There is a great review about the current release of Ubuntu at Ars Technica here: http://bit.ly/mGPHcL I'm not a Windows or Microsoft hater by any means, but I'd spend more time using Linux if more games were compatible without having to use WINE. (Just sayin') If you are interested in trying Ubuntu, please be aware, DO NOT INSTALL WITHOUT BACKING UP YOUR DATA. I would feel awful if someone lost their work just to try Linux without realizing it can delete everything. o_O