My writing routine

When I first began writing full time, I spent a lot of time stressing myself out. I was used to the Monday through Friday, 8-5, an hour for lunch work routine. And now, here I was, at home, able to write whenever I wanted.

But as good as that sounds, it was horrible at first. I felt like I had to commit eight solid hours to pounding away on the keyboard, adding words to my novel. And some days that was hard! I was blocked, or I just couldn’t focus. Plus, I homeschool, which requires a huge investment of my time, as well. So I’m sitting here thinking I have to write for eight hours a day, teach my children for 3-5 hours, plan out their lessons for the next day (which might be another 1-2 hours, depending on the day), and I still have to find time to shower, and sleep. I had tons of shows recorded that I wasn’t watching, because I was trying to do everything else. I never read for fun anymore. I didn’t talk to friends often, or go anywhere or do anything because I was so busy trying to meet that requirement that I had in my head.

Then, on top of that, I was supposed to be “building a platform”! I was supposed to be using Facebook, and Twitter, and working on the site, and interacting with my readers. When was I supposed to do that? There was another 1-2 hours a day.

Then one day, I logged into an author group I’m in. These particular authors are moms, like me. Some of them write full time, like me, while others work outside the home and write on the side. And I noticed something: some of these women seemed to be online, answering other women’s questions, all day long. When did they write? When did they build their platform?

So I asked them. I asked them when they wrote, and was surprised to find it wasn’t eight, long hours a day. And then I asked them what they considered to be “work” when it came to writing. Their answers helped me to realize that I was putting way too much pressure on myself. I was trying to stuff my creative, outside the box career into the cramped, rigid box that all my other jobs had fit in. It was like trying to stuff a blanket into a tissue box.

It took me a while to get out of that “must work eight straight hours” mindset (and this applied to homeschooling, as well!), but once I did, things got so much better.

My writing routine is…erratic. That is really the only way to describe it. I’d like to be able to say that I sit down at a set time and write until a set time, but that would be lying. About the only consistency to my writing routine is that Monday through Friday, from about 9am to noon or 1pm, I’m not writing. That’s when I’m homeschooling my kids, and I can’t effectively divide my focus between the two and still give each the attention it deserves.

Actually, saying there’s no consistency other than the homeschooling hours being off limits to writing isn’t quite accurate. There is some consistency, in a sense. Most days, I do write for 2-3 hours in the afternoon, while the kids play after school. And just about every night, after they go to bed, I stay up until 11pm or midnight and write.

Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night to write, but that’s incredibly rare. Mainly because I tend to write at night until my battery’s about to die and then I hit the sack. And at 3am, I’m just too lazy to get up and go get the power cord out of the other room. And that’s assuming I wake up enough to fully realize I have an idea to write about. Getting me up is hard. I have a friend that’s something of an insomniac and will call me in the middle of the night, and most of the time I don’t realize it until the next morning. So, I usually just hope that whatever I thought of will still be in my mind when I wake up in the morning.

I use a laptop, so it’s easy for me to write wherever, whenever. Most of the time, it’s one of three places: a recliner in my living room, a chair on my back porch with my feet up on the railing, or sitting on my bed. I usually have a soda or a glass of water next to me, and either the TV or some music on for background noise – not that my kids don’t provide enough of that. πŸ™‚ Usually, if I have the TV on, it’s on a rerun of some show I’ve seen a thousand times, so that I don’t get distracted by it. A lot of the time, it’s a rerun of Yes, Dear or Dharma & Greg. When it comes to music, I try to fit my music to what I’m writing. If I’m writing love scenes, or at least more tender, intimate scenes between characters, I’ll play something that reminds me of love. Some of my more recent playlists have included Train (I’ve gotten pretty hooked on “Drive By”), Neon Trees (see my previous post about getting “Everybody Talks” stuck in my head!), Paul Van Dyk, ZZ Top, Aerosmith, Shania Twain, Gloriana, Kenny Chesney, Barry White, Al Green, and .38 Special.

When I’m editing a book, I also have my Kindle. I convert my book to the Kindle format and load it directly onto my Kindle so that I can read my book as you would. It makes a huge difference when it comes to spotting mistakes, and makes it so much easier for me to get into the story and find the holes and other problems that I might not notice if I only read it in my writing program.

I use Scrivener to write. It is an excellent tool for anyone who wants to write a book. It allows you to write scenes, and move them around, placing them in different spots. You can even move chapters around. It’s great for being able to move scenes to spots that are a better fit, and it’s also very helpful when you need to go back and find something you’ve written. You don’t have to scroll through pages and pages, you can just click and there’s the scene. It also has character sketch sheets, and you can add your own pages for research notes, links you want to save, and pretty much anything else you might need to write your book. It’s made writing so much faster for me.

I include things like research, updating Facebook or Twitter, updating the website, and things like that as part of my writing routine, as well. I spend most of my writing time actually writing, though.

That’s pretty much my writing routine. Not much to it. πŸ™‚