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.
Mediating with music while gaming then maybe the gym
The first thing is to get rid of all distractions. I have the kind of brain that is (a) easily distracted and (b) can perform several tasks at once. I can, for instance, type while singing the lyrcis to a song. However, my best work happens when I am not distracted and I concentrate 100% on the work in hand. For me, that means door shut, no one else around, music off, Twitter ane email shut down and phones switched off. I usually write for about an hour or two at a time, interspersed with cups of hot black Earl Grey tea. Before writing I usually speed read the chapter I wrote before and consult my invaluable notebook for themes that need picking up and continuing, juicy little sentences and phrases I've thought of elsewhere and any reference material I've found. I usually write best late at night or early in the morning. Probably as there are fewer distractions then. During the day I do my illustration work.
I rarely plan, usually only having a beginning and a vague conclusion in my head - the rest just flows. Depending on what it is, I generally streamline and refine the piece a few times afterwards, however.
Music. I can't write without good music. Once I've got an idea, I have to listen to a good few tracks before I can start writing. It's kind of weird :D
Chaos, basically. Right now I'm working on the 500 word plan. Write 500 a day then stop, even in the middle of a sentence and don't get back to it until the next day.
My creative process is pretty simple. I'm joking around with friends, or I see something weird at Target, and then I think to myself 'This would be funny if..." Other times, I can be writing something, and in that moment I get a newer, better, hopefully funnier idea. Then I just go with it. Usually your first instinct is right. Other times, it's your third of fourth.
I write quickly and in spurts, so I'm not a very disciplined writer. Poems come at me in single lines inspired by what I'm feeling or something I experience in nature. It all just kind of flows out from there and I organize it later.
My creative process is emotional. I feel very spontaneous. I love creating picking a particular word and a story just pops into my mind like magic. Before sitting down to write, I create a vision in my mind of what I want the reader to feel as they read. I want to have the reader enveloped into photographic and emotional ride as they turn the pages.
A lot of procrastination is involved. Followed by a bit more procrastination. I'm only half joking really.
Usually if it's non fiction and I'm writing up an interview or some research, I leave the recording or notes for a day or so then come back to them. Then I just transcribe everything - mistakes and all.
Finally I go back and fill in the missing bits, move things around and play with it until I'm finished.
It's not too different with my fiction work - I start out with notes, leave them and come back to them and move words around until I'm happy with the result.
I treat my writing a bit like a jigsaw puzzle - moving the pieces around until the right ones fit.