After we’ve worn that out, sometimes we discuss craft.
I like to ask my colleagues about their writing process, especially in those areas where we disagree (writer throw-down, anyone?)I ask questions such as: Do you write in the early morning or the dead of night? Does your muse live at home, in a dedicated studio, at the beach, or at the local coffee shop? Do you write to music or demand silence? With or without chocolate? On the computer or in longhand on handmade paper? Mac or PC? Times New Roman or Courier?
Do you seek critique from others, or does early feedback kill your creative spirit? Do you like to travel in a pack or seek isolation?
Do you do extensive outlining and preparation before you sit down to write, or do you just launch, assuming it will somehow work out? Once you begin to write, do you write headlong, barely pausing to eat or sleep, or do you write for two hours and quit for the day? Is your daily word count 250? 500? 1000? 2000? Do you measure your progress in pages? Words? Time? Pounds of cashews?
When you revise, do you edit their original draft, or rewrite the thing entirely from the first paragraph? (that notion gives me the shivery-shudders, but that’s just me). Do you write the entire piece, and then revise? Or revise as you go?
Do you look forward to sitting down in front of your computer—hand-stitched journal—audio recorder—private stenographer—to write, or is it actually painful? Do you have to be “in the mood” or do you create your mood by forcing the issue, by sitting down and getting your hand moving?
Ask a few dozen successful writers the answers to these questions, and you’ll get many different answers. There is no one right way to write, and very few unbreakable rules. The wisdom of other writers can be helpful to you—but writing by its nature is a solitary endeavor. Each person has to find her own best method, and her own true path.