I do most of my active writing here at this desk in my “office” where I also am working the day job in this pandemic remote lifestyle. My routine really depends on what kind of work I have in progress. If I’m generating new material a lot of that happens either in the spiral notebook or the Notes app on the phone. I love it when I’m working on a new story and ideas come fast throughout the day. I always have a Sharpie S-Gel in my pocket and some type of notepad close by. A lot of that generative period happens before and after sleep so a much of that gets done in the Notes app. My weekday writing is usually in the first hour or two after work, so early evening before dinner. My weekend writing is usually in the mornings.
That stack of note cards next to my laptop is one of my prized possessions. Those are gathered quotes from craft books and sometimes pull quotes from fiction that I want to save. They help me remember that learning is gradual and ongoing, and they help me get unstuck occasionally. I can randomly pick out a card and find some type of motivation again.
An ideal session for me would be to have some music going and I’ll start with reading for a half hour or so. I love reading while I’m in the middle of writing. I love listening to music both when reading and writing. I’ll listen to various Pandora stations mostly a mixture of classic rock, 90’s alternative rock, and some harder rock mixed in there. After reading, I might spend an hour working on the laptop. It’s crazy how fast time can go by even with editing and revising. I love being able to open up the windows. We’ve got a ton of birds and squirrels around the house. Late Spring and early Summer is perfect for also taking a book and a notepad outside.
I do a lot of procrastinating. I love having no deadlines, nobody really to answer for these things other than myself. When I’m really in the zone it reminds me of that idle time in the dorms back in college when all of life was in front of us, but there wasn’t really a hurry. That time could be divided up reading a Rolling Stone article, reading a class text, or just sketching something out with pastels for the hell of it. I like what that idle moment is like on the brain. It seems close to meditation, maybe? Still I love getting a lot of work done too. But the only way to do that really is word by word, sentence by sentence, worrying about the total later, and eventually looking back and being proud of the work done. I feel super lucky to have the space and time to do this and I’m going to try to enjoy that time before it’s gone.
Al Kratz lives in Indianola, Iowa with his wife Kristy and their cat Tom Petty. He is the Managing Editor for New Flash Fiction Review. He’s the author of Off the Resting Sea from above/ground press 2021, and The Tony Bone Stories which was runner up in the 2021 Bath Novella-in-Flash Award and will be published later this year by Ad Hoc Fiction.