A Writer’s Routine

November 2, 2015

“The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism.” Haruki Murakami

“You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” Jodi Picoult

“Turn off your cell phone. Honestly, if you want to get work done, you’ve got to learn to unplug. No texting, no email, no Facebook, no Instagram. Whatever it is you’re doing, it needs to stop while you write.” Nathan Englander

I love hearing about other writer’s daily routines. I like reading about them. I like listening to author’s tell us about them on their book tours. It’s comforting to know that the most successful writers are doing exactly what those of us, not yet there, are doing day in, day out. Writing. Whether it’s at home at the kitchen table, in an office, or at a local cafe, they stick to a routine. They have a start time and a finish time. They sit their backsides on the chair and they write. Good mood, bad mood, inspiration or no inspiration, they do the work.

There are a number of common threads with writer’s routines. Many seem to start early in the day, first reading what they wrote the day before. They tidy their previous day’s words before plunging into new territory. Their day can go from three to six or seven hours of work. They stop knowing where they need to pick up again the following day.

In the last few weeks I’ve been committed to a more regular writing routine. Everyone has their preferences when it comes to writing. I like to stay flexible. I don’t need complete silence, or classical music, or a north-east aspect, but I have discovered through trial and error that I need a block of uninterrupted time. I need limited access to wi-fi, and it seems to help when I leave the house and drive to another place.

There is a large chain coffee house a few miles from my home where I know I won’t run into any friends. It’s big enough so I don’t get to know the people who are there each day. I wake early but I use that time to get my kids fed and off to their various activities. I attend to emails and pay the urgent bills before leaving for my “office.” I’ve been averaging two and a half hours of solid writing five days a week and the pages of my novel are piling up at a pleasing rate. I’d like to increase that to at least three hours a day. On Fridays, I meet with other local writers, and we read each others’ work. We give constructive criticism, and encourage each other through repeated drafts, rejections, and successes. There seems to be a lot of coffee involved.

It’s not a perfect system. I somehow need to insert more exercise into my week, but I’m happy with how my writing is coming along.

Here are the daily habits of some of my favorite successful authors, compiled by the writer of “Transform Your Habits” James Clear.

The Daily Routines of 12 Famous Writers (And How They Can Help You Succeed)

I’d love to hear about your writing routine!


1 Comment
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