Superstitious writers: And my changing process

Up until now, my process for writing a book went something like this: I would hand write the first draft of a book (usually in bed). Once the first draft was done, I would transfer the written copy to electronic form by typing up the digital copy. During that process I would also take care of the first rewrites. These first rewrites tend to be the bulk of the reworking the manuscripts get (I’m pretty hard on myself). Once the first rewrites are done, I then ship the MS off to the beta readers. When the beta readers send me their feedback, I integrate what I think is necessary and then ship it off to editors. But that process about to change a bit — and I’m nervous about this change. Why? I’m superstitious.

It’s a well known fact that writers are a superstitious lot. And for me, along with this change comes the fear that my books will now suffer. What is the change? I am going to stop hand-writing the first drafts in order to save time. Why? The single most lengthy piece of my process is the typing of the manuscript from the handwritten form. Generally speaking this step takes me a couple of months to complete. By removing the hand-written component, I will easily be saving a months worth of time. In the end, this might enable me to produce an extra book a year. That’s big… so it’s worth trying.

But again — I’m nervous about this change. I’ve been writing my books by hand since day one, so I’m worried. And with good reason… I’m strange. We’re all strange. All writers adhere to superstitions. Don’t believe me? Take a look at some of these:

Hemingway carried a rabbit’s foot that he wore down to sinew.

McCarthy wrote all of his novels on the same Olivetti typewriter.

John Cheever had to convince himself that he was actually a working writer by putting on a suit and riding the elevator with the businessmen in his building. They got off on the ground floor, but he continued down to the basement where he wrote.

Isaac Bashevis Singer used the same Underwood portable typewriter for more than forty years, saying “If this typewriter doesn’t like a story, it refuses to work,” he said. “I don’t get a man to correct it since I know if I get a good idea the machine will make peace with me again. I don’t believe my own words saying this, but I’ve had the experience so many times that I’m really astonished. But the typewriter is 42 years old. It should have some literary experience, it should have a mind of its own.”

Stephen King listens to bands like Metallica and Anthrax while writing

The list goes on and on…but doesn’t stop there. Other superstitions I have heard from from the mouths of my fellow wacky writing community are:

  • Manuscripts must end on an even numbered page. Period.
  • No characters can have the same initials as anyone the writer knows else bad fortune will befall said real life person.
  • I’ve had numerous writers swear to me they can only write successfully in their pajamas — even one writer must always wear the same pair!
  • Vices: It’s a tough life, that of a writer. So vices are rampant. Booze, smokes, recreational drugs. Sometimes the vices are used to calm the nerves, sometimes to help find inspiration. My vice? Soda! That’s right, my only vice is soda. Okay, that’s not true if you count stockings and high heels. Oh, did I say that? Shoo.

What about you? Do you have a superstition that plagues you? Share with us all. You’re family here, no one will point fingers and laugh.