Writers all have writing tricks, habits and other methods we use to accomplish various things with with work. It's what helps us leave a distinct mark on the writing that, like voice can be imitated but not duplicated.
One of my tricks is physical: if I have a hard time visualizing or choreographing the physical action in a scene, I will (literally) do a walk-through of it in a space comparable to that of the novel setting. During my recent trip to Savannah, I strolled through town not only for my own pleasure, but also to time how long it would take my protag to go to work, walk the riverfront and evade capture in three different scenes (not as long as I had guessed in two cases.)
An unexpected benefit of this trick is that walk-throughs also help me with structure and pacing of a scene -- if I discover it's going to take a very long time to physically move through the choreography I have planned, I may shorten the action or split the scene up into two scenes.
Habits are more nebulous, force-of things that we're barely aware of. My guy says he knows when it's deadline week for me because I wear green almost every day. I don't deliberately do that, but I know I consider natural shades of green both inspirational and soothing, so it makes sense. When I start a new project, I try to watch the sunrise that morning before I begin working. On the night I finish a book, I always light candles and take a long, hot bubble bath. All of these habits probably started way back when I was having a problem with the work, solved it, and have since become rituals I don't even think about anymore.
Some of my writing methods have changed over time. I no longer try to make my chapter page counts as symmetrical as I did when I started out; I've stopped counting and obsessing and instead let the writing tell me when it's time to shift into a new chapter. I no longer make endless lists of keywords for title ideas but think it over and whittle it down to twenty of the strongest key-concept words and then work with those.
Over the course of a writers' life change is inevitable. I do miss something of the methods and habits that have fallen by the wayside over the years, but I've also discovered some new things that have helped me more: changing the lighting around my work space to eliminate screen reflections (less wear on the eyes), switching from hot tea to chilled water when I write in the late afternoon (keeps me from getting drowsy) and tracking any changes I make during my evening edit session (eliminated saving two, before-and-after copies of the daily work.
Writers, what are some of your favorite work tricks, habits and/or methods? What have you stopped or started doing since you began writing? Tell us in comments.