Daily Writing Routine

Daily Writing Routine

What is your daily writing routine?  Some writers sit at their desks from dawn till dusk whilst some only work for an hour or two each day. Others find they can only write in cafés or on the move while others prefer to work surrounded by home comforts. Does the radio aid your writing or hinder it? How many words do you write per day? Do you set yourself a target?

Location: This could be a blog post all to itself. Where do you write? Do you have the luxury of a writing desk or even better a writing room? If so I envy you. Do you lock yourself away in your bedroom or perhaps write on the kitchen counter within reach of the kettle? I know one writer who worked in a summer house at the end of his garden. What about the quality of your working space? Is it messy, clean or somewhere in-between? Do you have a location specifically for writing or do you write on the go? I tried to write on the morning rush hour train to uni but didn’t have much success. The return trip was less crowded and slightly more successful, but I still prefer to write at home.  Some writers prefer to do their writing out of the house. JK Rowling used to write the early Harry Potter books in her favourite café in Edinburgh.

Noise: Do you like working to music? Some writers listen to music to put them in the right frame of mind. I’m listening to the music from Game of Thrones as I write this but that’s through choice not necessity. When I’m working on my fantasy novel I listen to the Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit soundtracks. It only takes several minutes to create a playlist on YouTube. Failing that there are countless websites and downloads that allow you to create music playlists, ITunes and Grooveshark to name a couple. Some writers can only work in complete silence and become distracted by the slightest sound. Others prefer back ground noise like a Friends rerun playing on the TV on low volume.  Some libraries have silent areas if your house isn’t an option.

Time and breaks: Although this post is called daily writing routine I don’t mean spend every second of the day writing (although I’m sure there are writers who can write all day nonstop).When does your writing day start and when does it end? Is it whenever you find the time to write, or do you have certain hours of the day designated for writing? Maybe you can get your writing goals completed in the morning and spend the rest of the day dealing with real life? Maybe you find real life a distraction from writing and prefer to deal with mandatory tasks before settling down to write?

Distractions: The twenty-first century offers plenty of these. The internet is a lovely place to lose yourself for hours. My biggest distraction is YouTube. The TV provides countless films and shows to binge watch as do websites like Netflix. There’s nothing wrong with these websites but you might want to stop your Breaking Bad marathon if you haven’t written anything in a week. Real life often intrudes into our writing time. I’m not saying ditch your job to write full time (unless you’re extremely talented and have the guarantee of being published) but be sure to set aside some spare time to write in. Family members, friends, loved ones, and pets can also be distractions. My biggest distraction for example is this:

No she isn’t cute, she’s actually been sent from Satan himself or it seems that way at 6am anyway.

She loves jumping up on the table and head butting my laptop, lying across the keyboard and generally being a pain but I love her anyway. Try and find the time to write in solitude or explain to others how important your writing is to you.

Words per day: How much writing is enough? Do you have a set target you try to reach? Stephen King says in his book ‘On Writing’ (If you haven’t read it go and find yourself a copy) that he writes 2000 words per day. JK Rowling said she writes something between 500 – 1000 words. George R.R. Martin, an infamously slow writer, is reported to only write 350 words every 24 hours. At the other end of the scale is Anthony Trollope who wrote for two and a half hours each morning. I’m convinced that he was in fact a machine but that’s beside the point.

I said at the start of this post I used to be obsessed with this idea of a writing routine and in some respect I still am. I’m often researching how many words a writer does per day and comparing their word count with my own. In the end it doesn’t matter as long as some writing is done. Everyone’s routine is different. I can’t write two and a half pages a day so I don’t try to. My routine is to aim for 1500 words. I write in twenty minute bursts followed by a five minute break. I prefer to write at the dining room table because there is more room and it’s near a plug socket in case my laptop dies. This set up may not work for you and that’s fine but it works for me.

What’s your writing routine if you have one?

8 Replies to “Daily Writing Routine”

  1. My habits are so sporadic I won’t call them anything other than a shambles. But the thing is, chaos and disorder seem to work so well for me they might juuuuuust be able to be classed as my ‘routine’.

    I either write at home (lucky enough to have a spare double bedroom to use as my writing “office”), or out and about at my weekly writing meets. They’re in a cafe, so the usual distractions/annoyances apply. Because I’ve stuck to this schedule for a hell of a long time, it works. Persistence is key.

    I write with distractions or TV noise or music or whatever happens to be on in the background. I need something there. Even though when I zone out and they cease to exist, some part of me knows they’re still there and I can write in ‘peace”. If I can’t tune the noise out it means I’m not writing hard enough, or I’m happier concentrating on the distractions more than my work. Time to nut up or shut up.

    The only reason I write at night is because when I’m not at work I’m rarely awake in the morning 😛 I’ll sit down whenever I get a spare minute AND remember I should be writing AND have a deadline close enough to scare my arse into the seat, and my fingers onto the keyboard. Most of the day is my break from writing so when I finally get down to it I try and power through for as long as possible.

    When it comes to distractions, I’m a feckin’ magpie! Unless I’m completely in the zone you might as well be thrusting a puppy and a bowl of ice cream into my hands, because I’m not going to be writing for long when I see something shiny.

    Targets? I never really think about them. The only target I work to is finishing a piece before a deadline…I can hear all the editors pissing themselves from here. Ok, I try to finish as closes to a deadline as possible 😛

  2. Ah, well. Whilst we have an entire separate room which we once intended to be the office, in fact we both work such funny hours that we usually use the desk in the living room. I often have the TV on, but always with the volume off (I think it’s an extrovert/introvert thing. I remember reading about some tests to work out if students should have music or not whilst studying, and surprise! (not) it depends on how each individual’s brain works…). So that makes you a rollicking extrovert, Steven 😉

    In terms of output, my brain still works in copywriter mode. That means I spend 90% of my time thinking, and then I put fingers to laptop and stream thousands of words in a small number of hours. It’s really, really bad for your neck and back but hey! It also means that I look like I’m doing absolutely nothing and have zero output for extended periods of time.

    My biggest distraction is the paid work, by which I mean the stuff that I invoice at £/hour and for which I get paid in 14 days. Followed by anything to help out my other half’s business when he’s maniacally busy. I can’t work for free or speculatively until this deck is cleared.

    The thing that tends to dry me up creatively is a) spending too much time on social media and b) being unable to raise photos (it’s an internet speed thing). Point a) isn’t going away any time soon (although I’ve had to dive out of all the groups I was once part of) and b) is resolved. At the moment. I think.

    Good to see your new blog, Jack. Power to your elbow/writing hand!

    1. It’s interesting you should mention that test Esmeraldamac. When I was doing Psychology A level my teacher insisted that everyone works better in silence and showed us a case study from the text book to prove her point. Then someone raised the point of study music which lead to a very interesting debate. I’m definitely a introvert.

  3. I don’t have a strict writing routine. I do write most days, but if I don’t feel like writing I’ll do something else – research, marketing, subbing etc.

  4. Hi Jack – I don’t have a strict routine. I tend to rely on deadlines! If a deadline is looming, I sit down and write come what may.

    1. I sometimes find Susan that a looming deadline is the best motivator especially when it comes as a surprise because you lost track of time. I’ve done that more than once. Happy writing.

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