I don’t usually preface a post with quote, but this one is appropriate today because we are talking about writing routines. M.L.S. Weech, my spirit animal/writer/friend, recently wrote another stellar post about writing. Specifically, he wrote about his routine. A routine I’ve seen him practice ever since I’ve known him (many years). The post is simply titled: My Routine: One Writer’s Habits. If you don’t read the rest of my post and just read his, you’ll glean some great information.
I‘m cheating today because I’m going to steal a comment I wrote on his post and add it to this posting to explain one of my writing processes. I’m also going to offer some articles I’ve bookmarked and reference when a writer contacts me and is having trouble with their process. There are also a few books I found helpful (if you’ve spent any time on my blog you know how I love books on writing).
As writers, many of us thrive on a delicate homeostasis. Put simply, most of us have our own processes that we refine over the course of our writing life. However, balance is key. What worked once doesn’t always work, and to maintain balance we continuously need to tweak conditions.
With that being said, in our craft, there is no way around the actual application. We must find some way to transfer thoughts from our brain housing unit into another medium. You can use Dragonspeak or some other transcription tool, but you must get the words down.
This is the method I currently use to hold myself accountable and reach my goals. It’s successfully propelled me through one book, and I’m using the same technique to draft a novella.
Here is one of my methods. When I sit down to write I look at the time and make an estimation. How much time can I realistically give to my project today? I look at my current word count, which is stuck to my monitor on a Post It note. I add 500, 1000, 1500, or whatever (depending on the amount of time I have) to the number and write that number on another Post It note. I then stick the new one next to the old one. That becomes my goal and reason for existing.
Then it’s time to put my money where my words are. I attempt to set myself up for success. I close out everything, put on some music, grab my writing hat, and get to it. I write, without fail, until I at least reach the new Post It note number. Even if what I’m writing makes my skin crawl (usually it’s not as bad as I think it is). If I exceed the number, I one line it at the end of the session and write the new number. The old word count Post It note gets crumbled into a nice victory ball and chucked into the trashcan.
For me, the idea is every single time I sit down at my computer there is visual cue that says, “Hey Corey, I know you want to watch videos of cats playing keyboards, but you have this book to write. This is how far you are into it. What’s more important to you, cats playing keyboards or writing your book?” Sometimes the answer is cats playing keyboards. But the point is it makes me instantly aware of looming work. You can’t tuck it away and hide it when it’s staring you in the face.
That is my current process. Like Matt mentioned in his post (assuming you read it) him and I hold each other accountable by “clocking in” and “clocking out” with each other via messenger. It’s harder to shirk your writing duties when another motivated individual is clocking in every day and telling you about it. It’s a constant reminder that there is someone out there who is hungry for success. Are you hungry for it too? I am.
Here are the web resources I spoke about earlier in this post.
7 F***in’ Great Ways to Build Your Writing Routine, by Phile Jourdan.
The Daily Routines of 12 Famous Writers, by James Clear (This is the article where I first found the quote I offered at the beginning of this post.)