Usually i just sit down and start writing and see where that takes me...Usually though at some point before i sit down i have eaten somewhere or cooked something that will provide a jumping off point or an end point to aim for.
Before I sit down I usually get rid of all of my distractions...which means setting up to make sure I have quiet and a drink by me. I'm usually okay once I get started because I get into the story and it builds up a flow. When that flow starts I lose track of time and when I snap out of it the day's gone and somehow in there I managed to write so many pages, eat, write stuff in my character profiles (portfolios), and a whole bunch more!
It's a good thing to have, that's for sure.
I get inspiration from everything around me.
Firstly, I get bored, my minds starts to wander, and then I scribble. Eventually, it accumulates, a structure is born. I may leave the work for a long period of time and come back to it when I get a spark. I think when I get inspired it is a magical time for me. I build on what I have, try give it an ending. Everything comes in time. Nothing good ever comes easy. Ever.
Every day is different. Some days I have screamed, "Colton, if you don't get that dog out of the refrigerator, I'm going to...." Other days, I have gone for a long run and cleared my mind. When you are a mom who writes you better be able to just down and get to it no matter the circumstances.
I work full time hence I cannot just...run out of ideas. When I do encounter the writer's block I usually change the scenery (like go to a club with wi-fi and work there)
I get a bit of idea, roll it around in my head for a day and then sit down and write it all in one go.
The only exceptions are with the book and an piece for an upcoming edition of Fire & Knives (which I tweeked a lot)
I have just finished my fourth novel, and with each one the process has been different. The first book was more of a healing process. The next in the series is called Shipping and Deceiving and it came to me the minute I began typing. I wrote it from start to finish in about three months.
My process varies from short stories to novels. I write what my friend Judith Berman refers to as "zero drafts" longhand with a fountain pen. These are messy, scribbly things. I do them to start a story. Sometimes I write the whole thing out that way, sometimes I jump to a laptop and continue. It really depends on how the thing emerges. At some point in there I work out the structure before I write what probably constitutes a real first draft. And after that anywhere from three to a dozen revisionary passes.
Novels almost invariably require more research, enough that it becomes a phase in the process, where in short fiction that usually goes by pretty fast; but again, it varies.
Cat-vacuuming. I fiddle around, sometimes for quite while, and then something clicks and 90 minutes later I've got a sonnet.
I also write to order: you pay me and I'll write a poem for you, any subject, any form: http://mikesnider.org/mypoems/verseforhire.html
A great deal of procrastination is what happens before I write. Cooking, messing around online, finding trivial jobs to do. Anything but write!
My process is chaotic. I often write the end before the middle, and write a lot of stuff that later has to be thrown out because it's of no relevance. The first draft is all over the place until I discover what the story is about, and whose story it is. In this way I find the novel's backbone, and then have to remove everything that doesn't fit with what I discover. I am one of those writers who does it to find out what they think about something in particular.
I follow a multi-dimensional process; allowing myself to write freely, and then both "reading" my own writing for the themes that creep in unconsciously, and editing. I tend to do free writing and editing simultaneously, though at any given period one or the other dimension is dominant.
Before sitting down to write I try to prepare an hour or two without interruptions, and get my tea and papers in order. Then I turn on some heavy metal, to wall myself off sonically. It has to be heavy metal because otherwise I can sing along and the music gets distracting.
I love to have a long walk in the morning before I start work, and very often find an idea comes into my mind while I'm out, and has largely worked itself out by the time I get home, so all I have to do is just sit down and write it.
If that doesn't happen, half an hour's meditation at lunch-time, a cup of coffee and sitting down at the laptop and just staring at the screen can do it... and I always carry a notebook and a pen for all those moments when an idea comes to mind in the most unexpected places.
I sometimes record stuff on my iPod, too, for transcribing later.
Most of the time, in my daily life, I am inspired by something I've encountered. It might be just the sight of someone in passing that triggers an inspirational topic. Many times it is a feeling I have when I'm in the midst of nature. Once I sit down I begin to brainstorm my feelings in a word document and then I start assembling my thoughts into sentences and paragraphs that flow and make sense. I usually research the topic somewhere along the way but it is usually towards the end of my writing. I want to make sure I'm relying on my experience first and then I like to accent my thoughts with research.