Once a month, I talk to another writer about their writing routine. We answer questions such as Are you a plotter, pantser, or somewhere in between? , Do you write every day? , Where does your inspiration come from?, What’s your beverage of choice?, and many more! At the end of each episode, the writers recommend their favourite book on writing and share their advice for establishing the right writing routine for you.
This month, I talked to Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir, a horror author from Iceland.
Her book recommendation is Writing in the Dark by Tim Wagner.
Listen to the Episode
Read the Transcript
Sarina Langer 00:08
Hello, and welcome to the Writing Sparrow podcast. I’m Sarina Langer, and this podcast is all about writing, publishing and marketing your book. You can find transcripts on my website at sarinalanger.com. Let’s get started!
Sarina Langer 00:27
Welcome back friends and sparrows. It’s the 18th of January 2021, this is Episode 18. Oh, that works really well doesn’t it? 18th January, 18th episode, it’s almost like I planned it. And this is the first of a new series of monthly interviews where I will be asking a different author every month about their writing routine. Personally, I love hearing about different approaches. And some of you have told me that you love hearing about this too, so I hope you enjoy these.
Sarina Langer 00:55
The first author I’m interviewing is Villimey. She’s a horror offer from Iceland, and I’m really excited that she’s here with me this morning. Welcome to the writing sparrow.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 01:06
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Sarina Langer 01:09
Such a pleasure. So before we started this, you tried to teach me your surname and I failed miserably and then I gave up. Can you– What do you mind introducing yourself before I slaughter it?
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 01:22
Yes. Okay. For all you guys listening I hope you can try rolling your R’s like I, like we true Icelanders do, but my full name is Villimey Kristín Mist Sigurbjörnsdóttir.
Sarina Langer 01:38
You’re welcome, everyone. So you can try to follow that along with the, with the title of this episode and in the transcription, which I am feeling a little bit sorry for, my poor transcription service, which can barely cope with the word horror. So I’m interested to see what it gives me. I have to send you a picture of what I get.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 02:02
I, this is going to, this programme is going to have a field day.
Sarina Langer 02:05
I think it’s gonna. Yeah, it’s gonna be fun to see what it does.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 02:09
It’ll probably give you a big ass error code.
Sarina Langer 02:13
Yeah, like, what was that? I can, it can barely cope with English. So we’ll see how it copes with Icelandic.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 02:20
Sarina Langer 02:21
So let’s do the most important question first. Are you a plotter, a pantser, or are you somewhere in between?
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 02:30
I’m definitely somewhere in between.
Sarina Langer 02:33
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 02:34
What I usually do, especially when it comes to novels, I tend to do like an outline of each chapter. So I usually get in my head, like what kind of what, how, how sufficient that chapter would be, how many chapters there should be in a novel. Usually, in my novels, currently, there have been like 30 to 35. That’s like a good, it’s a good amount for like an 80k novel. And then I just structur it like that. And then, then when I go and start writing, at least I have like a good skeletal progress of how the novel is going to be, how story is going to be. So I can always just go into the, into the chapter outlines, see like, Okay, this chapter is going to have something like this. And then I just start writing, but at the same time, I don’t completely adhere to the outlines themselves, like I have like the core points. And with that, I can just let my pen freely flow.
Sarina Langer 03:35
I think that’s quite a good way of approaching it. I do it in a very similar way, actually. So you know, I think we both, we’re both people who really like to structure things so that we know where we’re going. But then if our characters at any point say Actually, I’m going over that way, then we’re flexible enough to run with that.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 03:54
Sarina Langer 03:55
It’s interesting I think that you said that you, that you tend to aim for about 50, 53 chapters for an 80k novel. So do you try to always have roughly the same number of words per chapter? Cause I think just chapter length can vary so much, you know, so you get some books which have maybe 20 chapters and they are all quite long, and then you get another book with roughly the same number of words overall, but they might have 60 chapters.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 04:25
Yeah, well, I usually I try to have like the chapters like three– 2000 or 3000 words. I think that’s a really good like, the length for a chapter is like, it doesn’t it doesn’t have that too many words that the reader will get bored. It’s all, I mean, of course everything depends on like how interesting you’re going to write the chapter. But I think it’s like appropriate length, like if I’m reading like a fantasy story, and it has like a chapter is like maybe 6000 or 7000 words. I usually like to go over to where the next chapter is and see how much I have. And I’m like, this is, this is gonna take too long. And I might get impatient, because I’m such an impatient person.
Sarina Langer 05:15
Yeah, I get it. See, this is why I rushed my debut novel out the first time I did it. And this is why I had to get it re edited, because I was very impatient. But I think it’s got a lot better over time. And I know that you’ve got a lot more patient over time as well. Because I’ve known you from your first book, so I know how much you’ve improved in those terms.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 05:37
I know. I, I really should pat myself on the shoulder here.
Sarina Langer 05:41
You really should.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 05:43
For learning that much patience.
Sarina Langer 05:45
I mean, generally writing a book and getting it out there is such an exciting process anyway, that I think it’s really easy to get carried away.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 05:53
Oh, yeah, especially when you have like, these nuggets that you really want to share with people. And then you get really excited, and then you reverse plan like, okay, on this month, I’m going to like, reveal this, and then you get to, god, fuck, I’m just gonna put it out there right now. I’m sorry, I tend to swear when I’m excited.
Sarina Langer 06:14
That’s okay. That’s okay. I don’t think there are any children listening to this. We’ve had, I’ve had a couple of swears here and there over the episodes, and they would be much too annoying to edit out.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 06:25
Sarina Langer 06:26
So this will come uncensored. I don’t think anyone’s going to be offended at that. If any of you are, we’re very sorry. It just slips out. We’re just very passionate authors, that’s all.
Sarina Langer 06:40
So to come back to your writing routine, in general, what does that look like? Do you have a specific routine every day? Is there tea involved? Is there anything that you need to do, a specific process?
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 06:56
Well, I, I usually tend to like, wake up early. I do my workouts early. I have this kind of situation with my, with my work that I’ve start work usually around 11, it’s not really typical of work elsewhere. So it gives me time to do stuff in the morning. So I can I just can get my workouts done, and then I feel energised enough afterwards to sit down and write a little bit. I don’t aim for a lot of like a daily counts or anything like that. It will just stress me out. Because if I, it feels like I’m not doing it and doing anything enough, and I’ve trying to have this kind of mindfulness of whatever you’re doing is enough. Like even if you wrote maybe a sentence or if you wrote two words. It’s, for that that’s enough, so you don’t have to really stress yourself out about it.
Sarina Langer 07:53
I think I can hear your cat, it’s so cute.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 07:56
Yep. That’s Robocop.
Sarina Langer 07:59
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 08:00
Sarina Langer 08:01
That’s adorable. Hello, Robocop.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 08:05
Yeah, he is.
Sarina Langer 08:06
Aww, he looks a bit like the elderly cat who comes by every now and again. She’s 20 years old.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 08:13
Sarina Langer 08:14
She is completely deaf. She’s gone blind in one eye. And she looks a little bit like she, she always looks a little bit like she’s just been in a fight. So a little bit rough. Your cat isn’t there yet, but your cat isn’t 20 years old, so.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 08:27
No, he’s eight, though.
Sarina Langer 08:29
Oh, bless him. I mean, sorry listeners. You can’t see him. He’s the most, the softest looking cat. He’s grey and he– I think he just huffed at me.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 08:41
He’s a really soft teddy bear. I’ve never had such a soft cat before and he’s like, he’s got everything.
Sarina Langer 08:49
And he looks like he loves cuddles.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 08:52
He does but then he’s the kind of cat that I let– he wants me to come to him. It’s just he’s still like such a, he’s such a tease. He’s like oh look at me I have such a nice looking for. Don’t you want to pet it? I’m like, Yeah, come here. No, no.
Sarina Langer 09:09
I do. Yes, I do. How do you know?
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 09:12
Yeah, and then again, like no, no, no, you come to me and the he runs off, and I’m like you wanted pets!
Sarina Langer 09:19
We’ve had so many pet appearances on this podcast so far. So I think I’m gonna have to almost do like a list of, of guest appearances by our various cats and dogs.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 09:31
See, now he’s, now he’s doing the I’m not getting enough attention whine.
Sarina Langer 09:35
Our cat is about to be fed in about 25 minutes, so there is a good chance that we’ll hear her cause she gets absolutely insufferable around this time.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 09:45
I don’t even know. We went off track because of the goddamn cat. Oh, yeah.
Sarina Langer 09:50
Oh yeah. Yeah yeah yeah. Shall we, shall we get back to the point of why we’re both here. We– you’ve already just touched on this in that you don’t really set yourself a specific word count goal every day, which was going to be my next question. Um, so I think we can skip that. So do, do you write every day without fail? Or do you take breaks?
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 10:13
I try to write a little bit every day. But I mean, sometimes just life gets in the way.
Sarina Langer 10:20
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 10:21
Like sometimes when I’m just sitting here like, my, my laptop is such a huge distraction. My phone is a huge distraction, it’s basically the home of Twitter. I do nothing else on this goddamn phone except be on Twitter, so I try to like shut down the laptop so I can focus on writing. Because for those of you who don’t know, I write everything by hand.
Sarina Langer 10:48
Yeah, we will come back to that in a bit, and that’s very impressive. You can almost do I think, its own episode just on how you do that. But we’ll do a little bit about that in a bit. Yeah.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 11:00
pSo I try to do like a little bit every day, like, even if it’s just a small outline, or just a couple of words, if it can get squeezed that like in the morning, and maybe when I get back home from work, I work late, I usually come back around 7, 7:30, or something like that, and though in the evenings, so and that leaves me like doing dinner, and then you know, cleaning that up, and then afterwards, just I get a couple of hours before going to bed. So I usually try to do just a little bit, but on the weekends, I give myself time off. Like, I usually, usually have the time to you know, go for walks and watch my favourite shows and do the household chores, I usually leave that always on the weekends. And, yeah, and reading. I’ve, I’ve like set this goal for myself this year that I will focus my weekends on reading so I can finish as many books as… I mean, I have a YouTube channel now, so I kind of need me to keep up with that.
Sarina Langer 12:06
Yeah. Now I think that’s a nice way of doing it because you need time to recharge anyway.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 12:13
Sarina Langer 12:13
And I think in, in our industry, maybe more than definitely, well definitely more than in traditional jobs, say where you have an office that you go to five days a week and then you know that the weekends are off. We don’t really get that in the same sense. Because we know that we’re self employed when, when we do all the authoring stuff, which I think makes makes it quite… well, I think it makes it feel really like we need to write all the time or else you’re not doing enough, and it can make taking weekends off quite difficult. So it’s nice to see that you look after yourself, and hopefully you don’t get burnt out.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 12:50
No, I, I’ve, after listening to your burnout episodes, I’ve been really paying attention to what my symptoms are going to be like.
Sarina Langer 12:59
Oh thank you!
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 12:59
so when I writing, like with the plotting that I’m doing now with book four, I feel like I’m getting a little bit of burnout. So I’m like, Okay, I’m gonna focus on something else.
Sarina Langer 13:09
That’s a very good thing to do, well done, because it can be really hard actually, to notice, I think.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 13:16
Sarina Langer 13:16
Like on paper, it looks really easy when you just go through the symptoms, but then it actually happens to you and you’ll probably think actually, it’s probably something else. It’s not going to be burnout. I’m probably just tired because I didn’t sleep well enough, which in itself can be a symptom, so… but I’m getting sidetracked again. I can talk about burnout until the cows come home as my mom would say, so.
Sarina Langer 13:38
Um, so obviously at the moment we’re recording this, we’re still in lockdown. And I imagine that by the time this goes live in a few days time, we’re still being in lockdown. How would you say that your routine has changed at all over the years, and how has it been affected by the lockdown?
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 13:55
The thing is, we don’t have a lockdown here in Iceland.
Sarina Langer 13:58
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 13:59
We… Yeah, we–
Sarina Langer 14:01
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 14:02
We’ve like, I can’t say that we have been like successful, but compared to other Scandinavian countries we’re doing fairly well. Because we’re, our government is like really pushing down on keeping the infection rate as low as possible. And we’re doing that by like checking with every, everyone that goes into the country. So they have to get checked. They have to do the testing when they arrive at the airport, and then they have to go for a five day quarantine. And then they have to go do a second testing. And when they are tested positive, they are, they’re immediately shipped to another place where they are contained.
Sarina Langer 14:49
That sounds so sinister.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 14:51
I know, it really does! But it’s the best way to keep it from infecting the society. Beczuse we’re really, like we’re really, really, really, really worried about the British, the British contagion, the contagion.
Sarina Langer 15:08
So you should be.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 15:09
As it’s called in the media, which is supposed to be a lot more infectious. So we’re really, really trying to contain that away from society as much as possible. So with doing that, we’ve actually managed to, like, go easy a little bit, like yesterday was, was one of the where they are slacking off a little bit on the restriction. So instead of now 10 people gathering together, now 20 people may gather together. And…
Sarina Langer 15:44
So what you’re saying is, it hasn’t really affected your writing routine at all.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 15:48
No, not really. I mean, I just I’ve been going to work ever since it started. And I mean, I’m kind of like a frontline worker, I work in an office and crafts, arts and crafts store. So a lot of people have been go, needing to go there, because everyone’s working from home, so they need office supplies, and all the kids, they need stuff to do while they can go to school. So I have been really busy at work. And I’ve just been doing my routine what I’ve been doing like this the last two years, I think. Just the same. Same old, same old. It’s boring as hell.
Sarina Langer 16:28
But it works. And that’s why it’s a routine, isn’t it? Ultimately. And then, I know, I think you’ve mentioned the other day, possibly on Instagram or on Twitter that in your store, you have like 50 different kinds of notebook.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 16:43
Sarina Langer 16:43
Which brings me on to my next question. And you’ve already talked about that a little bit. Which is your, the writing programme that you use, and you actually write all your drafts by hand.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 16:55
I do, yup.
Sarina Langer 16:56
And they all have their own dedicated notebook. See, that was a link there, I know what I’m doing. Alright, so talk me through that. How does, how does your hand survive that, cause every time I try to write much by hand, certainly that much, eventually, my hand will cramp. And then there’s no way I’m writing anything else that way.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 17:16
I think it might have to do with the fact that I’m also an artist. So I, I draw everything by hand as well. Like I do a lot of traditional art, trying to move towards digital arts ever since I got the iPad. It’s just been challenging. And I’m, and I’m impatient when it could faster.
Sarina Langer 17:33
It feels very different.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 17:35
Yeah, it really does. But so yeah, I’ve always… and also just, I have always been the person who likes to take notes, like ever since I was in school. And ever since people brought like, we’re allowed to brought laptops to classes and stuff, they would just type everything up there. But I felt like I couldn’t really pay attention to everything while I was writing in my laptop, so I would always just pull my notebook and just take notes with that by hand. And I noticed that I can pay attention, listen to the, the teacher and take notes and understand what I’m writing at the same time.
Sarina Langer 18:17
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 18:19
And I’ve kind of actually moved that towards writing my novels, like a lot of people tend to have, want to have like complete silence when they are writing.
Sarina Langer 18:29
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 18:30
Yep. Sometimes it works for me. Like if I need to really get into the zone, I will do that. But you, I usually hate silences because it has something to do with with me when I was a kid. I’ve always have had to have some kind of sound in my room. So I always have to have background noises. So I usually just put up like Friends or Brooklyn 999 on TV. And it doesn’t bother me when I’m writing. Because it just feels like I’m with someone or I’ve been in class and I could just write whatever I want.
Sarina Langer 19:04
And when it then comes to getting what you’ve handwritten onto your computer, what programme do you use for that, and how do you… D you type everything out again by hand or I think you dictate it?
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 19:19
First, I typed everything by hand and my god I don’t really recommend it because it is hard. But then I discovered this cute little button on Word that basically saved my life and my sanity. It’s the dictation button. So basically what I did is I just said everything out loud to the to the Word programme and it just dictated for me, and the only thing they had to do was to fix what the dictation didn’t really get from my accent.
Sarina Langer 19:52
That doesn’t sound so bad.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 19:54
It doesn’t, and it also, it also helps because there are some, some some of the writing tips as you’ve probably heard is to read your stuff out loud.
Sarina Langer 20:03
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 20:04
And it’s a really good thing. And I noticed that when I’m really reading my first draft into the, into the draft that there are some things that really don’t, don’t, don’t look good or don’t really loud good. So it gives me time to edit that at least.
Sarina Langer 20:20
That’s, that’s a good way to do it. I mean, I think it definitely helps to hear it yourself as well. Because I think when you just read it silently to yourself, it sounds quite different in your own head than when you actually read it out loud.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 20:33
Yeah. Yes, definitely.
Sarina Langer 20:35
So that’s a big help.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 20:36
Yeah. Actually, it’s kind of it’s difficult for me sometimes, because what, what the English we learned in Iceland is actually the British English.
Sarina Langer 20:48
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 20:49
So I mean, the proper English of course.
Sarina Langer 20:52
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 20:54
But then I’ve also been exposed to American English through watching television. I mean, I grew, I basically, I think, I think my best friend was the TV when I was growing up. And Cartoon Network really helped spice up my vocabulary in English. So I tend to mix those up a little bit. Like there are some–
Sarina Langer 21:15
I think a lot of people do, to be fair, because American English is everywhere, especially on TV, you know, we get so many shows over here now from America, especially also with Netflix and things like that. So I think for most, most people don’t necessarily realise that they’re using American English over here. It just happens naturally, cause, you know, you just, you just soak it up.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 21:39
Yeah, exactly. So reading out loud really helped me to detect if I’m using the proper English or not.
Sarina Langer 21:48
So to move on, cause I’m very aware of the time – damn your cat for being so cute and distracting us. What are three important things you need to have when you’re writing, and I imagine your cat is one of those.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 22:03
Sarina Langer 22:04
What are the other two?
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 22:07
My notebooks. I need to have my notebooks. If I, if I don’t, I will probably scrounge for like post it notes or anything like that, like I will probably order everything from, from work. And I need to have tea, tea or water next to me.
Sarina Langer 22:25
I’m having a tea right now.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 22:26
I haven’t had mine yet.
Sarina Langer 22:27
Of course, it’s quite, it’s quite early in the day that we’re recording this anyway. So it’s just my regular first tea of the day.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 22:33
Yeah. I, my throat is actually a little bit parched. So I might get some tea afterwards.
Sarina Langer 22:39
Do you need to go? Do you need to quickly go get some water?
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 22:43
I’m fine now. It’s just so frickin cold here.
Sarina Langer 22:46
Yeah. So… there we are, what do you do when writing gets difficult? Because it’s not always easy, especially when you try to make a little bit of progress every day. You know, sooner or later, you’re going to sit down with your notebook and you’re not quite sure where to go and how to move things forward. What do you do when that happens?
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 23:08
I’m actually in that situation right now. I’m currently outlining book four of my vampire series. And like the beginning sounds really good. And I’m super happy about that. But then when I’m like, I have the middle left, and I have no idea how the ending is going to be. And I’m just stuck. So I decided like okay, I… Until like, maybe until I talked to it to someone who actually knows my series like you, for example, or Damascus, my illustrator, we usually chat back and forth. I decided just to move on and just work on something else. So I had like a short story that I had in mind. And I hadn’t really gone into outlining it. So I decided just to sit down and outline that and now I have a basis for a short story that I might work, work on until I get like a light bulb moment for outlining book four.
Sarina Langer 24:09
See, what Villimey does when she doesn’t have a whole novel draft to write is she writes short stories. She writes a lot of short stories.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 24:19
Well, I only just started but it’s super fun.
Sarina Langer 24:23
You have to… well maybe if we do another episode on that at some point, cause… I mean, I’ve already done one episode with Bev anyway. And when we did that one I got really excited to write short stories, and then I tried it and I just don’t know how to kick that off. But it seems to be so effortless for you. So maybe we can do another episode about that at some point.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 24:42
Well, yeah. I’d like that.
Sarina Langer 24:44
There we are. So when you write, do you, do you snack and what’s your beverage of choice? We’re getting to the really important questions now.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 24:54
The thing is with me, I can’t really snack on things that I’m really focused on. Like, even when I’m at the movies and I have like a big bag of popcorn in front of me. I can’t eat that while I’m watching the movie because I’m so engrossed into the movie itself. So what I usually do is I cram like a mouthful, just before the trailer starts. And then when the movie starts, I’m like, nope, nope, I need to watch, I need to be focused. And that’s kind of how it does with my writing as well. So I might maybe get a, like a… I have like, right now I have… I’ve got like a box of Icelandic chocolate for Christmas.
Sarina Langer 25:39
Oh. I’ve tried some of your Icelandic chocolate and it’s delicious.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 25:42
It is. A lot of people don’t know it, but we have one of the best.
Sarina Langer 25:47
Especially the ones with caramel chunks, they are wonderful.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 25:50
Oh, yes. The one with Icelandic sea salt.
Sarina Langer 25:52
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 25:55
Um, so I try not to have a lot of snacks. But I do, I always emphasise on being hydrated. So even though you’re working on something, and you’re super focused, even when it comes to either writing, or in my case, also, when I’m drawing, I have to remind myself to stay hydrated. So I always keep a bottle of my water there, as well as something warm, which is, would be my like tea and stuff. I like green tea and chai.
Sarina Langer 26:26
You have to teach me at some point maybe how you can make a perfect cup of green tea, because every time I’ve tried making green tea, it was disgusting. But I’m such a tea drinker that it feels weird to me that I can’t enjoy green tea. I think I’m just brewing it wrong. That must be it.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 26:44
And I think also if you just have a like a combination of things, because there are some people who can’t take the bitter taste of green tea. And also as, like, as my husband likes to say, it tastes like grass.
Sarina Langer 26:57
I don’t… I like, well, I like the smell of grass right after you’ve cut it. That’s a lovely smell.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 27:01
That’s the best smell.
Sarina Langer 27:03
Maybe that’s how I should think about it. It’s concentrated cut grass juice. It doesn’t sound appealing.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 27:11
Like I said, it really depends. Like the tea that I always drink at work that really helps me get energised is actually a tea called Green Energy. And it’s like a combination of like ginger, green tea, and ginseng.
Sarina Langer 27:29
Oh right. That sounds alright.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 27:32
Yeah, it’s not, it’s not as bitter as I thought it would be.
Sarina Langer 27:35
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 27:36
It’s from Yogi Tea. So I think you guys have, sell it there in Britain.
Sarina Langer 27:41
Probably. I mean, if nothing else, it’ll be on Amazon because everything is on Amazon anyway. Well, I’ll have to look it up. I’d like to have a nice healthy cup of green tea at some point.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 27:51
Sarina Langer 27:52
Moving on to the, to the subject at hand. So how do you, how do you find inspiration? One of the big questions, something that everyone is forever wondering: how do writers constantly find more inspiration?
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 28:07
Well, it’s really hard to say, like, my ideas just pop into my head whenever they, whenever they want. Like even when I’m doing such mundane tasks like cleaning, like the cleaning the apartment, suddenly I just have like this idea about a really bad serial killer who wants to kill everyone? I’m like, how does that fit into cleaning?
Sarina Langer 28:30
Well, maybe you just really hate cleaning and it makes you maybe just a tick violent? No?
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 28:35
Yeah, I don’t know. It’s just, I was just watching one, like I was watching, erm, like a TV series that is based on a manga on Netflix called Alice Borderland. And I was just watching that and really enjoying it, and then suddenly out pops into my head like, Hey, have you ever done a story with a sinister Japanese spirits? And I’m like, No, I haven’t.
Sarina Langer 29:05
I think I’ve just seen you mention that on Twitter, something about a Ouija board and, and a Japanese version of that. Is that where that came from?
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 29:12
That’s where it came from. Even though like nothing of that happened in that TV series. Just the thing that I was being absorbed by like the Japanese culture that I’m really familiar with, because I used to live there for two years. It just really just brought me back.
Sarina Langer 29:30
And how do you record your ideas when they pop into your head? Do you write it down anywhere? Or do you remember them?
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 29:38
Twitter is a really good thing to storing these ideas. Just like for like YouTube references like if you have Twitter and you get an idea, write it down and tweet it and get people excited. That way I will get it will help me remember like I have a story that people were excited about and I need to write that down.
Sarina Langer 29:56
That sounds like a really good way of doing it, cause one You have a record off the idea, so if you forget it, it will still be on Twitter, so you can’t lose it. And it gets your first reaction of whether people are excited about it or not. Why isn’t everyone doing this? Sounds like a great way of doing it.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 30:15
Yeah, it’s a good idea
Sarina Langer 30:16
I’ll have to consider that next time I have one.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 30:20
Sarina Langer 30:21
You already said earlier that when you write you like to have some kind of background noise, but do you listen to music while you write? And do you have, like, like dedicated playlists for every book?
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 30:35
I find that really interesting. I, there are some songs that I, that I didn’t really understand that it could fit well with my stories until afterwards. Like, I decided, like on Instagram for one time, like, hey, what kind of songs would you implement with my stories? And a lot, I got a lot of suggestions from a lot of people. And when I listened to the songs, they really fit it, the stories. So it usually comes up to me afterwards. So if I’m, if I need, if I need some inspiration when it comes to music, I usually tend to go for the metal ones.
Sarina Langer 31:17
Metal music, especially metal covers are a recent obsession of ours.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 31:24
Yeah, it is really, really nice. And it gets you pumped up.
Sarina Langer 31:29
And I think it suits your stories quite well as well.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 31:33
Yeah, I mean, kind of, yeah. I mean, Leah kind of has to listen to that all the time now.
Sarina Langer 31:39
Bless her. It’s a hard life.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 31:41
It is. But it really helps, especially when you’re like, if you find that listening to music helps with your writing, I would kind of try to associate it with the scenes that you’re writing. Like for me, if I want to ride like a really tense action scene, I would put metal on. And that really helps.
Sarina Langer 32:03
That’s a good idea. I mean, I wish I could write with music. But if there is any kind of lyrics, I can’t focus on both, but instrumental music, I think it needs to be for me, either that or silence. But God, I wish I could try it with metal music. It sounds so perfect for really getting you into the right mood for the scene you’re writing.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 32:25
Yeah, it is. But I think there is like, there are some like YouTube channels that do covers, like metal covers that are just instrumental.
Sarina Langer 32:34
Oh, yeah, you’re right. Every now and again… it’s not really relevant, to be honest, but every now and again, we play a game where my partner will put on a metal cover and I have to guess what the song is. It’s quite fun.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 32:46
Oh my God, our house are the same.
Sarina Langer 32:50
There you go. It’s such a fun thing to do. And it really shows you just how bad your knowledge of music is.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 32:57
The thing is, I’m good at, I’m super good, like, I could be like the computer, like the computer equivalent to recognising like celebrity faces when I’m watching stuff. If I’m watching a movie, I’m like, I know this guy. He played in that and my husband will be like no, that’s not right. I’m like, Yes, he does. And then I go on IMDB and I’m like, yeah, it’s that guy. When he switches around and we go to music, he knows every single thing. Like he knows the bass player. He knows when it was, like, recorded and at what time and stuff. And I’m like, I know one note from this. I don’t know the song. I think I know who it is. I like it.
Sarina Langer 33:44
So my next question is a little bit mean. But, but try, just try your best. Which one book, just one, has inspired you the most as a writer?
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 33:58
Sarina Langer 34:01
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 34:03
Well, I mean, that’s it… I mean, if I have to be honest and even, and even despite the the current affairs with that particular author, I’d have to say Harry Potter.
Sarina Langer 34:19
I mean, I think for most of us, that was such a big influence as we were growing up. So if we, if we separate ourselves, maybe, from the person behind the books, and just think about how it made us feel at the time.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 34:31
Sarina Langer 34:32
And you know, those those feelings were real. And yeah, that love and the passion for it all that was real.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 34:38
Yeah. I think that was the one that I kind of, like drove me, like if that person can do it, then maybe I can as well.
Sarina Langer 34:46
Yeah. And you know, obviously, everything that’s going on now has absolutely no bearing on how… that, the fact that it inspired you to be a writer in the first place all those years ago. Sa, you know, I think that’s still, that’s still very valid. And yes, I just I love hearing about what books have inspired other people to pick up writing because it’s, it makes it so powerful to me.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 35:12
Yeah, it really does.
Sarina Langer 35:14
It’s really all about the books when you come back down to it.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 35:17
Well yeah, I mean once it’s out there, it’s not yours technically.
Sarina Langer 35:22
Yeah. And on a very similar note, do you have a favourite book on the craft of writing?
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 35:29
I’m actually, I, one of my favourite now is this one here. It’s called Writing in the Dark by Tim Wagner.
Sarina Langer 35:37
Okay, I don’t think I’ve heard… actually, no, I think I have seen it around a little bit.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 35:42
Yeah, he just published it a couple of months ago. And it’s basically a guide book on how to write good horror fiction, because he’s a really established horror author. So he both, basically he is telling him, telling people like how he went into it, how he kind of went through the stages of writing horror, and he’s giving like, good, really good advice, and really good lessons. And I, well, I haven’t gone through everything yet. But it’s really, really, really good. So I definitely recommend that if you are thinking of writing horror. You might, you might, you might learn something from him.
Sarina Langer 36:25
Always good to have a book like that. I love having a book on writing that I know I can come back to any time if I’m stuck, and I’m instantly feeling inspired to write again. Which comes back to inspiration.
Sarina Langer 36:38
And, finally, um, do you have any advice for establishing a writing routine?
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 36:47
Well, I think what you just have to do is… It can be really tough to say just come up with a plan, because you know, life gets in the way, and you can’t really stick to that plan. So what I just say is, be kind to yourself, and try to maybe start like less, don’t start like with trying to write 1000 words a day. If that doesn’t fit into your schedule, then just scrap it altogether. Just try maybe one or two sentences. And if that flow is still within you, then just keep on writing and see if you can keep on going for the rest of, the like, for the rest of the week. And if that helps, definitely just tried to amp it up. But don’t try to go, don’t go exceeding the things that you can’t really do.
Sarina Langer 37:40
No, especially right in the beginning, if, you know, if you’re only just starting to get into writing, I mean, you… I think one of my writing friends easily knocks out 10,000 words a day. And I don’t know how she does it. Please don’t ask me. It’s dark magic to me.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 37:55
That is dark magic to me as well.
Sarina Langer 37:57
But if that had been the first impression that I’d had about how many words other writers do a day then that would have been quite off putting, I think because that is such a massive count, just for one day.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 38:11
Sarina Langer 38:11
So you know, just, just start slowly as you said to see what you can do in a day. And let that be your benchmark to begin with. And you know, you can always step it up a bit over time.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 38:21
Yeah. So I have to add because I work out, like it’s the same, similar if you’re going to do physical exercises. You don’t go straight for the heavier weights, you go with the ones that you can deal with.
Sarina Langer 38:34
That’s a great comparison.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 38:36
And then once you get stronger, you can move up to heavier weights.
Sarina Langer 38:41
That’s a really good comparison, because I think everyone will possibly have tried working out at some point or another, and it’s really easy to overdo that immediately and just think, I’m going to work out, I’m going to start by running one kilometre, and it’s probably not gonna happen. I mean, I hate running anyway, so that’s a bad example from me, but…
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 39:01
I’m not even at the point where I can like jog continually. I have to take like, intervals when I’m just walking briskly. And then I start jogging. And I’ve been running, jogging now since March. So it takes time.
Sarina Langer 39:17
Yeah, like any, like any routine, really getting into a writing routine also takes time. So as you said, Be kind to yourself, and take it slowly.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 39:25
Sarina Langer 39:27
All right, we will end on that. Thank you very much for stopping by and talking to me about your writing routine, Villimey. Thank you so much.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 39:35
I hope everyone can learn a little bit something from it.
Sarina Langer 39:38
We can hope. Thank you very much. Bye.
Villimey Sigurbjörnsdóttir 39:42
Sarina Langer 39:44
If you enjoyed today’s episode, maybe learn something along the way, hit the subscribe button. You can also connect with me on Twitter @sarina_langer, on Instagram and Facebook @sarinalangerwriter, and of course on my website at sarinalanger.com. Until next time! Bye!
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