Well, actually, what I'm proud about myself is that when I write something, it just comes naturally. It's like my hands are doing the working. The thoughts just flow out constantly and for a second, I don't even stop to think about it.
I can't remember who said it, but I can totally relate the the 'Lightening Bolt' experience of the creative process. I am having a normal or even dull day or even in the middle of something important like sleep and get an electric jolt of an idea and hope I can scramble to a place and carve out the time to get it down somehow. Sometimes I find the creative process so sad because it doesn't just build up when I've booked of an afternoon and sharpened all my pencils and then what feels like an inopportune time comes along and zaps me with this creative electricity (generated from who knows where...) and I can't describe the sense of disappointment that leaks like water and makes my creative-self a dull, electrocuted heap.
So usually before I begin writing I am in a mild panic: paper! keyboard! eraser! pens! And my best efforts not to lose an idea usually involve me making them into some kind of song in my head so I can repeat them to myself and not let their super-charged essence escape too soon!
On the otherhand, on the more calm (bland?) days I must usually have a comfortable chair, properly fluffed lap-pillow, mug of tea and my first an second choice writing implement beside me. Oh, and my feet can't be either too warm or too cold. That's usually my first distraction.
It varies; but whatever the writing day may bring for me -- I do know that coffee, wind-chimes (from my balcony) and aspirin are almost always involved.
I really don't have a process I go through before I write articles or poetry. All of a sudden, the thought will come to me that I have a poem or subject. Then, I start writing and out it comes. There may be some minor revisions, but my articles and poetry are usually from start to finish in one sitting.
When I can't sleep because an idea/plot is stealing my sleep... I'll let the story steal my night by writing it on the computer.
Befor I sit/lay down to write... I get this unexplainable feeling that I have an awesome idea that I'm afraid will go away after I sleep.
The joy of writing for the web is that you can write any time of the day and from wherever you are in the world. I go out on many visits around town for research and enjoyment and then plan the article in my head so I know whether it's a feature, more photos than words, review, etc. I then type up my notes and do more online research before filling the notes out into legible sentences. I then re-read and check it's interesting to read, and then read again for further proof-reading.
I'm a bit unorthodox in this approach. I just write down whatever is in my head and then edit it. It seems easier that way, and i keep track of the ideas and then edit them into what i want.
I usually picture a scene in my head and then write it down, making the rest up as I go along or I come up with a crazy what if. For example; 'Hmmm... What if I found a child in my garage' the rest comes to me and I go on a rampage.
i usually start with a plate of food in front of me...i then i ask my self "what do i want more" this delicious and most certainly nutritious plate of food or the desire to create and write...after i've eaten the Desire to write usually wins.
Depends on what I am writing. My columns generally come from an editor. They give me an assignment and I write it. For About.com, I do come up with my own ideas. For those, I do some research to see what questions people are asking.
Fiction is a different animal. For a fiction piece, I start with a single thought. For Living with the Gray Tones, it was the idea of a woman returning home after a long time. I wrote a short story once about my coffee table in my living room called The Magic Table. My next book, Rubber Ball 49 Cents, started with phrase I heard someone say, "You're lucky the ball chose you." Once I have a basic idea, I just sit down and start pounding out words. I will change my mind a hundred times before I finish.
I don't have a real ritual. I write whenever I can, stealing moments here and there. On public transportation, early in the morning or after work. I flip open my laptop and jump in.
I don't really have one all I need is inspiration motivation and Music. I have found as long as I am listing to music OI work better I might get inspiration from a song and if I do I will play that song on repeat till I am finished writing.
I think I am writing all the time, even when I'm not typing. Ideas come late at night, or when I am walking my dog, and sort of brew in the attics of my brain until I happen to be next to my computer.
I do a lot of preliminary work before sitting down to write a book. Creating a map of the world is one of my first tasks. In fact, the map is quite often an important part of my inspiration for the plot line and subplots. Once the map is done, I start to develop the main characters and a plot line. My plot lines are epic in nature and typically turn into a series before I start writing the first volume of a series.
I work as a crewman aboard historic wooden sailing vessels, so that is what most occupies my time. I am always observing and learning more about my environment: the birds, the sea, the ships, everything. I take a notebook with me and jot down poems on the spot. Later I transfer them to the computer and submit them for publication. For writing novels, I simply sit down at the desk and begin to write. I do not outline and do only limited planning ahead; writing a novel is an adventure in itself. If I knew what was going to happen before I started it, writing it would not hold my attention.