Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Process Project: Meet D.D. Syrdal!

Welcome to week five of the Process Project!! If you don’t know about us already, please visit The Process Project page to find out more about this project, and read interviews with other authors.


D.D. Syrdal lives just outside Portland, Oregon, where her yard is frequently visited by deer, raccoons, skunks, pheasants, and neighborhood cats. You can purchase her latest release, Revenants Abroad, on Amazon and Smashwords.

And now, to the questions!

JB: Why do you write?
DD: Mostly I just keep getting ideas. I can be watching the most banal show or movie, and something a character says or does will trigger something. I never know.

JB: What do you write?
DD: Science fiction and fantasy are my main areas of interest in writing. I have also written a couple of ghost stories, and would like to do more.

JB: Do you have any writing rituals?
DD: I really don’t have any rituals. Mostly I’m just plunked down either in my living room or bedroom with my laptop on my lap. A few years ago during NaNoWriMo I discovered I can really crank out the words at a write-in (we were meeting at a local Panera Bread) and I’d like to go to cafes more, but in the interest of saving money I usually just work at home.

JB: Do you have a particular time of day you like to write?
DD: Nope, whenever something pops into my head. It could be in the middle of the work day at the office, and I’ll get a couple lines and quickly type them into a Word document. Now, that said, despite the fact that I am and always have been a morning person, I generally get no writing done in the mornings. I tend to find it easier to get into ‘the zone’ in the evenings, which is tough. I have to get up very early for my day job, so I can’t stay up at night writing. It’s very frustrating!
JB: Do you listen to music when you write or do you prefer silence?
DD: Sometimes I get ideas from music, whether it’s the title of a song, a single phrase, or a whole song, but usually for the actual writing silence is best for me. I can listen to soundtracks sometimes, but anything with singing is too distracting.

JB: Do you drink or eat something special when writing?
DD: No, not at all. I nearly always have something to drink, either water, tea, or coffee, but there’s no magic elixir. Just stay hydrated.

JB: How do you prep your ideas for writing?
DD: I have a couple of little notebooks that I scribble ideas, scenes, bits of dialog as they come to me, but I have no formal method of organizing. I don’t use index cards, or storyboard. Maybe I should, maybe I’d get more done!

JB: While you are working on a piece, do you have any particular way that you structure your work?
DD: I have never been an outliner, total pantser all the way. I used to (and still do when I have to) open a new Word document for each new scene, but I started using yWriter a few years ago and really like it. I got Scrivener a few months ago, but it’s not portable the way yWriter is (I have it on a thumb drive that I take with me to work) so I haven’t used Scrivener as much. yWriter is simple, free, and it’s easy to create new scenes and chapters which is very helpful instead of having everything in one big file.

JB: When you’re on the road and ideas come to you, what do you usually do? 
DD: Oh, I wish I had a good answer for this. I try to remember it long enough to write it down at the first light I get stuck at. I did finally buy a digital voice recorder, but if you do that, be sure you know how to operate it without fumbling for the ‘record’ button while you’re driving. This of course only works if you remember to bring it with you.

JB: ​Do you have any techniques you use while revising?
DD: Read it out loud. It’s also crucial to set something aside for a while, and come back to it fresh so you can hear where the rhythm is choppy or awkward. I also like using the “search” and “replace” functions in Word to zap my problem words. I have a few that I overuse and that’s a great way to get rid of them. Also I love to catch things. Using that really helps me tighten the writing and clean up junk words and phrases, repetitive phrases.
JB: Is there any advice you can give to writers struggling to get the words flowing?
DD: Just start writing anything. I know everyone says that, but honestly it works. It doesn’t matter what. “My cat is weird today.” “I wish I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow.” Anything. Get outside and go for a walk, or pull weeds. Watch a movie that you’d normally never watch. Read something you wouldn’t normally read. The point is to pull yourself out of the pattern that’s keeping you stuck.

I want to thank D.D. for taking the time to share her answers to these questions, and to shed a little more on her writing process with us fellow writers. Want to read more by D.D. Syrdal? Check her out on the web here! Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Wattpad | Smashwords | Amazon

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