A Day in the Life. Writing Routine.

Posted by on October 10, 2012

One of the questions I ask in my writer interviews is for the writer to share his or her writing routine. For some reason I am fascinated by this and inspired by it. For instance, ever since my buddy Owen Laukkanen told me he writes 5,000 words a day I’ve felt like a wimp if I only write 1,000, which is my norm.

Here is a little insight into my writing day. Would love to hear about yours. Right off the bat, I will say I know many writers have to fit their writing into a day that includes a full-time job outside the home, along with other responsibilities such as raising children. I don’t deny that I’m extremely fortunate to be able to work at home and even luckier to have a supportive husband who knows my paid writing doesn’t even make a dent in our income.

So, here is my typical day:

7 a.m.
Up and at ’em. Spend the next two hours alternating between getting the bambinos fed and ready for school and farting around on Facebook, reading blogs I like, getting myself ready, eating, and doing a bit of paid work (I moderate a website for pay).

9 a.m.
Breathe a big sigh of relief and sit down to write, either at home or maybe once a week at a coffee shop.
Write. Write. Write.

11 a.m.
Usually by this point I’ve written either 1,000 or 1,500 words and am often ready to take a break. I’m usually starving by this point so I eat. Today was salmon, rice, and brussel sprouts.
*A big challenge for me working at home AT THE KITCHEN BAR is to avoid snacking. Some days are better than others!

On a typical day, I will do some paid writing in the afternoon. If I don’t have a freelance assignment, I also will run errands or take a walk if the weather is warm.
Also, if I’m done with paid work and on a roll, I’ll go back to my novel and write some more. Or read books on craft, such as “The Writer’s Journey” by Christopher Vogle.

Today, I also spent time brainstorming, researching and adding to my storyboard: http://thegirlwiththesilvereyes.tumblr.com/

For instance, I was trying to remember what it was like in downtown LA during the riots and to help jog my memory I did a little online research. I post photos and other inspiration found during research on my storyboard. Plus songs. Always have to have music in my novels.

3:30 p.m.
Get ready for bambinos to arrive home and start dinner prep

5 p.m.
Eat with family

The rest of the evening is often spent doing activities with and for the kiddos and hubby.

8 p.m.
Settle in with a movie or a book.

9 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Fall asleep wishing I could stay awake later.
I’m the biggest baby on the planet. I love nine hours of sleep and would prefer ten.

Soooo, looking at my typical day as a writer, you might notice a few things: yes I’m DAMN lucky to work at home. I’m DAMN lucky. But I also drive a 10-year-old car, rent, and shop at thrift stores.

The other thing (more important) that you might notice is this:
I really only write two hours a day. When people say they don’t have time to write, I try to encourage them to look at where they can carve out two hours in their day. In reality, most people can. It might mean giving up TV at night (something I had to do long ago), although I will never give up movies once or twice a week.

Anyway, would LOVE to hear about other writer’s and their routine. So please share!

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7 Responses to A Day in the Life. Writing Routine.

  1. Kristi

    Thanks for commenting. I admire you even more now.
    You’re right in saying that writer’s block is a luxury you can’t afford.
    I loved seeing Owen Laukkanen a bit back because he’s living the dream and I like to live vicariously through talking to him. He’s at the point now where his full time paid job is a writer. Awesome.
    Hopefully you and I will be in that position one day, Sarah. I think they say the magic number is selling five books and then you can safely quit your day job!
    I hope we are doing that side by side!

  2. Sarah

    So, I wasn’t going to post because my fiction writing doesn’t really have a routine, per se. I’m always trying to get my paid writing out of the way (on top of my regular job) before I get to the “fun” stuff. I kind of view it like getting my homework done before going out to play.

    In any case, the way it works for me is I write in my WIP whenever the heck I have time. Being a journalist, I don’t believe a bit in writer’s block. If I only wrote when I felt the conditions and my mind set were perfect, I would get to write less than I normally do.

    So, I never aim for a certain number of words or a certain number of hours of writing. Rather, I just do what I can, when I can. When I’m starting a new MS, I’m usually much, much slower. I’m still feeling it out, trying to get the tone and the feel and the story headed in the right direction. Once that ball is rolling, I tend to write more often and more words. I sneak in an hour or two over lunch breaks or slow days at work, print it out and line-edit while I’m doing my morning cardio, rework a scene before I go to bed at night. If I’m lucky, I might get the hubby to take the kiddo for a few hours on the weekend so I can get three to four solid hours of writing. Which is totally awesome … when it happens.

    I’d love to get to a point where my “fun” writing became a priority and “paid” writing. Then, I might have more of a true schedule. Fingers crossed that happens eventually!

  3. Kristi

    It is always worth it. Sometimes those little gems during the day are invaluable. I carry around index cards in my bag to jot things like that down.
    I know some writers get up super early and write first thing say from 5 to 7. I’ve tried that a few times, as well.
    Thanks for weighing in David. Can’t wait to read your stuff one day.

  4. David

    (Part 2) During my workday, I occasionally have some “down” time, so I use that for writing. The problem is, when I get interrupted with actual work to do, I feel resentful and just want to stick to my writing. Grounds for termination! So of course I put the writing down. Then another lull comes and I wonder, do I dare pick it up again? I might only have five minutes – is it worth it? Correct answer: it’s always worth it.

  5. David

    I’m still trying to make writing a routine. My creativity flows best in the morning, right after I rise at 6am and make coffee. If I can successfully block out all other demands (my boring but moneymaking regular job, my addiction to exercise, social media, etc.), then I can write maybe a few hundred words before getting ready to go into the office. A few hundred is better than nothing, but I hate the feeling of having to stop just when I’m getting into it. Many mornings, I give into those other demands and end up writing nothing. Sometimes I’ll write a sentence or two, during a break at work, and feel accomplished.

    I envy those who have come up with, and stick to, writing routines. I hope to join you one day soon. I agree, Kristi, that most people can find the time to write if they really try, or if they give up something else. I don’t have kids and I rarely watch movies, so I shouldn’t have a problem! Other than laziness – which I prefer to call “lack of self-discipline.”

  6. Kristi

    Thanks for sharing Jasmine. And I’m totally the opposite. In the late afternoon, I’m done for. I can’t write a lick. Morning is my sweet spot!

  7. Jasmine Henry

    Disclaimer: I’m not a fiction writer, I’m a commercial business blogger at an Agency. This automatically makes me weird. But I’ll still share, if you don’t mind!

    I arrive at work around 8. I spend an hour responding to blog comments and thanking people who shared my work on Twitter overnight. I’ve never been a morning person and it’s just unavoidable that my creative juices don’t flow before lunch. I dedicate this time towards education, social media, planning and meetings. After lunch, I typically write around 3,500 words for multiple clients and our blog. Evenings, I make dinner even though my other half is a SAHD. After working with my mind all day, it’s incredibly cathartic to do something with my hands. I typically read for a few hours, once the little one is in bed. Sleep, repeat.