For writers and writing, I'm not so interested in learning about the nebulous, intangible stuff of inspiration and creativity. Borrrrrring. I prefer the quantifiable details: Where do you write? When? Pencil or pen? In a spiral notebook or on office legal pads? When you write on the computer, what font do you use? How do you format your stage directions? Where do you go for character names? When you write at Starbucks, what do you drink? Do you snack? How good is your writing after a couple glasses of crummy [yellowtail]? Music? No? If music, what kind, how loud? Do you wear pants? Can you write on a bus? On a train? In bed?
Then she proceeds to explain exactly that. (Hint: Pajamas.)
I think this is an excellent question and I'm happy to throw in my two cents. I'd love to hear responses from other playwrights, and I'll happily link to them in this post.
I tend to write under duress, late at night, battling a self-imposed deadline. Or (and it is ill-advised to write these words) at my day job. I have also used bars to help me break writer's block. I write in Times New Roman on computer, unless I am writing long-hand scribble in a bar.
I write at work for two reasons. One is that I am performing an act of tiny rebellion and that's satisfying and focuses me. The other is that I love my toys. I love my Playstation and my DVDs and websites about movies and reading other people's blogs and listening to NPR. I love to hang out with my girlfriend and talk to the cats and have some food and watch Twin Peaks on DVD. It means, therefore, that my home is a distraction. One that only quiets down when I give myself a deadline or when everyone else on the earth seems to have gone to sleep. Or when I'm the place I spend hours and hours of my time: my Hellmouth-of-a-Cubicle.
I write at bars when I am out of ideas.
Example of the bar writing: When I wrote The Death of King Arthur, I was 25 and for a while I was crashing on a friend's couch in Astoria. Below his apartment was a bar called Sissy McGinty's. I was trying to write a scene between Lancelot and Guinevere, and was having a hell of a time with it. I grabbed a beer (Sam Adams, I think) and there was pro wrestling on a big screen TV.
I wrote this, while getting pissed, watching the wrestling:
"Lancelot. The crying man is never pridelessly
Begging the heavens for his dignity.
All dignity is only pride made proud.
The prettier pride.
Guinevere. So you keep no dignity?
Does not this dirt show stern and unwav’ring
Contempt for all that would convert it else?
Does not a plant reach upwards to its growth?
Are you like flowers?"
I have trouble finishing things if it isn't about 2 AM. I can start anything during the afternoon. I think I wrote about 40 pages of The Most Wonderful Love after lunch one day when half the staff was at a meeting.
I don't have routine. Whenever I pick up a new project, I find myself instantly setting my sights on an arbitrary deadline. Then, I kick myself as hard as I possibly can to meet that deadline. In that way, a lot of my plays have been completed much like one completes a paper in college... jacked up on coffee, writing anything that seems to fit, trying madly to just get something into the play to complete the thing. All of this, or most of this, is self-imposed. Self-abuse (in the classic, not Catholic, sense) works wonders for me.
I can't really write creatively with a pencil. Pencils are for cross-word puzzles and Sudoku.
I write better with caffeine than booze. I make coffee at home. Lately, I've been putting some cinnamon in the grinds. It's pretty darn tasty. I used to drink Half-and-Half, but I'm trying to lose some weight, so that's 1% now.
I can't possibly imagine doing even one small bit of work at a coffee shop, or the Tea Lounge or whatever. In fact, I'm often exasperated when people have decided that anyplace with a couch is their personal living room. When freelancers and writers and junior advertising copywriters bring piles of paper and their Macs and a hat and a scarf and sweat clothes and make camp with a pot of tea, I think to myself that they are either performing their work publicly on purpose; or they just think that buying their own couch is a hassle. It makes me sweat and feel like dunking their Urban Outfitter socks in ice water.
Then, of course, I realize I'm being a tool, and its likely that these people are about a thousand times more productive than I am. That I resent them for being up at 8 am, checking stock prices on their wireless connections and reading over the fifth draft of their screenplay.
I can be incredibly judgmental, clearly. I am also self-loating, which tempers it a bit.
I enjoy writing on notepads, yellow legal pads, with Pilot Rolling Ball Pens. The results are aesthetically pleasing to me.
My formatting has slowly transformed. I'm pretty much self-taught, so my formatting used to be all over the map. Now, I think it's pretty standard. I don't use a Macro, though. I probably should.
I can't eat chips when I write because it makes my keypad greasy. That's gross. I would, though, eat them if it didn't. I love chips.
I can be inspired by music, but my writing is at its best when I turn off the radio, the CDs, the iTunes, whatever...and it's quiet. That's been hard for me to accept. As someone without a firm routine, I've tried writing to music over and over. It's just never worked as well as sitting in the quiet does.