Do you have a writing routine?

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Do you have a writing routine?

Post by Mira » December 13th, 2009, 11:21 pm

I don't have a writing routine, and I'd like to develop one. I'm really curious to know what people do - how do you fit writing into your life?

Do you write at certain times, or certain days, or just wait for the mood to strike?

I tend to do the last one, but that doesn't always work out well, because I rarely feel like writing, exactly...... :)

If anyone else wants to share, that would be great, thanks.

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Re: Do you have a writing routine?

Post by CharleeVale » December 14th, 2009, 12:57 am

I'd like to know the answer to this as well. Being in college with a crazy schedule such as mine doesn't really lend itself to writing, and then when I do have time I'm so burned out I don't feel like it. Anyone have a solution? I would love to hear from you!


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Re: Do you have a writing routine?

Post by trini » December 14th, 2009, 4:12 am

Such a great question! I am in the thrall of my first novel and so far its a whirl of characters and backstory. I have never done this before but from my earlier writing forays (poems and short stories) I know how important it is to have some kind of routine. I try and get to it in some way everyday. At first I set myself a daily time goal, then I set myself a daily word count goal...but as long as I do something daily I am happy that I am making progress. It is usually at the end of the day after work and family chores are done and I have space to myself. Often I don't feel like it at all because I am tired or burned out. But I make myself go there and find somewhere in that world that I can hang out in, or spend some time with one of my characters...even if its just reading where we got to last time we met. That usually leads me back in and I get some work done before I go to sleep.
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Re: Do you have a writing routine?

Post by poptart » December 14th, 2009, 6:53 am

I try to do my writing as early in the day as possible and set a minimum word count of 1000 words. Of course when it comes to revisions the word count bit is less important. Personally I find it useful to have a target to work towards - the internet eats up my time otherwise.
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Re: Do you have a writing routine?

Post by Demosthenes » December 14th, 2009, 10:27 am

I don't believe in waiting for inspiration. I've found that writing has to become a ritualized habit for me (kind of like brushing my teeth or drinking my morning coffee) or I'll simply never get around to it.

I figure it's like exercising. If left to my own whims, I'd probably always feel too lazy to go work out, but once I get off my ass and get to the gym, doing a 40-minute cardio and weight session isn't that big of deal. And once I get in the habit (Tues, Thurs, Saturday at 4 pm, for example) it's actually easy.

The hardest part about writing is getting started. Sometimes, you just have to sit down and pound out a couple of paragraphs or pages that are crap. Then, when you get into the groove, the words flow nicely.

Many writers recommend a pre-set goal (minimum number of words, or pages, or whatever). My goal is to write for a minimum of 90 minutes per day. If I'm on a roll, I keep going. For example, I wrote a 17-page chapter in one sitting last month. I wasn't even aware of the time passing. My average, however, is closer to 3 or 4 pages per session.

Give it a try. Commit to a time limit - 60 minutes every day, for example - and stick to it. Find a quiet place away from your cell phone, the internet, the tv, or your kids (I work in the quiet room of my local library), and just do it. Sometimes, you'll find that you only finished one page in that 60 minutes, and sometimes, you'll find that fours hours have passed and your writing is smooth. But heck, even if you only write a page a day, that's a book per year...

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Re: Do you have a writing routine?

Post by Demosthenes » December 14th, 2009, 10:33 am

An excellent article on the subject in the Washington Post:

Resolved: Writing is a job
By Ann Patchett
Sunday, December 13, 2009 ... 03658.html

My New Year's resolution for 2010 has its origins in a couple of conversations I had late in the year 2008. The first was with the bassist Edgar Meyer. I live in Nashville, where it is possible, even easy, to have conversations with famous musicians, and on this night we were at a dinner party complaining to one another about work. Edgar had several promised compositions he had yet to write. I was trying to get started on a new novel. Neither of us was having much luck. We were bemoaning the commitments that kept us from pursuing our most important obligations. But then Edgar admitted he had made a discovery: He put a notebook by the door of his studio and kept a careful record of the number of hours he actually sat down to work. The startling conclusion of this experiment was that the more hours he spent working on compositions, the more music he actually composed.

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Re: Do you have a writing routine?

Post by shadow » December 14th, 2009, 11:59 am

I write from 1000 - 5000 words a day. That is what I HAVE to do, somewhat like a chore. But then I say "This is getting soo boring." So the routine really depends on inspiration. When I don't have enough of that I listen to music, or go to play music, it really helps. Of course not all my time goes to writing. I honestly can't imagine focusing on writing and nothing else, it would make me lose my inspiration, because when my day is so busy I itch to get my story out on paper, and then it all goes smoothly. So busy is not always bad guys :)
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Re: Do you have a writing routine?

Post by Harper Karcz » December 14th, 2009, 12:29 pm

I set writing-related goals for myself that I put on a couple of calendars -- a Google calendar, my Outlook calendar at my day job, and a paper calendar that hangs in my kitchen. That way, I can't escape my goals for a particular week or month!

Sometimes my goals are word count-related, depending on where I'm at in a specific project. But usually they're task-related. The ones I have right now resulted from a brainstorming session I had with my critique group when I realized I didn't know enough about my protagonist's goals and my antagonist's motivations to move forward in my revision.

So I have:
Complete "character interview" questions -- I gave myself 2 weeks for this; I'm one day overdue, but I'll finish tonight
Write 1 or 2 backstory-related short stories about antagonist -- This starts today; I gave myself 2 weeks for this, too.
Revise synopsis / outline / timeline of novel - Ugh. A dreaded goal, but a necessary one. I gave myself 1 week for this. I might need longer.

So while I don't sit down at the computer at the same time every day, I usually find a way to get everything done. I work better when I switch up my routine -- during the week I usually write at night, but on the weekends I often meet with friends in the late morning and write at a bookstore or coffee shop. Sometimes I'm feeling drained and know I need a few days off to "refill the well," and so I do that and then make up for it with a longer writing session a few days later. This probably looks like a disorganized approach to some people, but it's been working well for me!
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Re: Do you have a writing routine?

Post by SmurfHead » December 14th, 2009, 2:04 pm

I didn't used to have a writing routine. Honestly, I don't think that having one has really changed my daily word count that much, but it certainly has made my life a lot easier. I write in the morning. After a few espresso shots, I'm awake and ready to go. Ready, but not always willing.

Anyway, I find that getting my minimum word count done first thing in the morning allows me to feel less anxious and preoccupied the rest of the day, which has the bonus effect of helping me brainstorm developments in this WIP and others. It's been really useful.

I'm in the editing stages now, but I tend to stick to the same morning routine. Back when I was drafting, I'd keep an Excel file and chart my word count for the day, but for the next book, I probably won't bother. I just worry about hitting my 1000 words--the rest is gravy.
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Re: Do you have a writing routine?

Post by casnow » December 16th, 2009, 10:46 am

Right now I shoot for 2k words a day, but i'm fine with 1k words if it's a chapter that I'm not psyched about... in some good days I'll get 5-6k words, so it all balances out. I try to set aside a couple of hours after work to peck at the keyboard.

What I really need to do now is sit down and edit, which is something I hate doing. I need a routine for that!

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Re: Do you have a writing routine?

Post by Tzalaran » December 16th, 2009, 11:25 am

When i'm working on a draft, the moment my kids go to bed my fingers hit the keyboard until it is my bedtime, no matter what. i did this from July until Thanksgiving, when i finished my draft.

now, i'm editing/revising that novel, and plotting and brainstorming for my next project, so there isn't a structure for me right now. my editing copy is always open on my home computer, and i work on it every chance i get, and 2-3 days a week i try to push forward on my next project (although recently working on 3d stuff has taken a more prominent role in my priorities).

i'd never have finished my draft if i'd continued to use the 'i only write when i'm inspired to write'. the only way to make progress on a novel is to sit butt in chair and have fingers hit keys.
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Re: Do you have a writing routine?

Post by kristi » December 16th, 2009, 10:04 pm

For me, I can only write after the kids are in bed at night. Also, when I'm working on a novel (I just finished one and will finish another after the holidays), I do an average of 2,000 words/night until I'm done. I got this advice from Mira's all-time favorite writing book - On Writing by Stephen King :) Just kidding, it's not her favorite - but it worked for me. I think the key is that each person is different and you have to see what best fits your schedule - and then stick to it.

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Re: Do you have a writing routine?

Post by Crystal » December 16th, 2009, 10:18 pm

As a writing newbie, I am happy to hit 1000 words a day. I do seem to be better at night but that is because I am a night owl and hate mornings. :)
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Re: Do you have a writing routine?

Post by Trustedwriter » December 16th, 2009, 10:32 pm

My usual writing routine consists of nothing more than, "Write something every day," and occasionally, "Write at least 1,000 words." It doesn't matter how long it takes, or what time of day I do it.

Lately, though, I have fallen into the habit of saving my writing for the end of the day, then deciding, "Oh, I'm tired, and it's late...I guess I'll forget about it today." Nooo! I need to be more diligent and write something every day, whether I feel like it or not. My book will surely benefit.

Hearing about all of your writing routines is so helpful to me right now. Thank you! This was a good topic. I am struggling about three-quarters of a way through my rewrite - so close, and yet so far!

(P.S. Tip - I personally found that it was not helpful to set a time limit, for example, "Must write for at least 2 hours." It's too easy to waste time and not get anything done. If a minimum is being set, a minimum of words is more helpful. At least, it is for me.)
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Re: Do you have a writing routine?

Post by benjdutton » December 17th, 2009, 2:47 pm

Like some of the others have already said, I think you have to set a routine. I used to have one - every morning from eleven to one I'd write, aiming for a thousand words. The last few months I've gotten out of that routine and it's hard to get back in. The writing suffers because of it. I think you need to set a time and be at your desk at that time everyday and try and write, and even if you write rubbish, don't worry about it. That's why we have an editing process. And disable the Internet on your computer during that time, it's too much of a distraction (like it's being for me right this moment!).

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