Writing Wednesdays: What my writing routine looks like

My writing routine is nowhere near as structured as it could be, but I do still have a kind of routine. In this post, I talk about a typical writing day for me!

I asked you guys recently on Instagram what you wanted to see me talk about for Writing Wednesdays, and you gave me plenty of suggestions. One of your questions was: what does my writing routine look like?

So that's what I'm going to talk about in today's post.

I'm just going to lay it out there now: I don't have a routine.

Sorry to disappoint you all, but I don't really have a set 'routine' that I follow when it comes to writing. I mean, I have certain aspects of a routine that I do follow, or else what the hell would I be talking about in this post? 

But here's the thing - I don't set myself a routine that I stick to, to write or edit my books. I am not the kind of person who says, 'I'm going to write 5,000 words a week' or 'I'll write 100 words a day'. 

If I want to write, I write. 

(And if I don't want to write but I need to... well, that's another matter.)

I might sit and write 12,000 words in one go before I even look up. I might obsessively sit at my computer every spare moment I have for days on end churning out chapter after chapter.

Or I might work on absolutely nothing for weeks on end.

I don't even have a routine of 'I'll write before I have breakfast' or 'I'll write in my lunchtimes at work'. 

I'm the kind of person who needs structure in my day to be productive.

But I'm not the kind of person who can dedicate fix parts of my day on set days to writing.

Honestly, I wish I could tell you I wake up at 6am to write for an hour before I have to get ready for work, but I like sleep too much. I wish I could tell you that at 6pm every day, I cook tea, and at 7pm after I've done the dishes, I will sit and write a thousand words, but I have never been able to work like that.

The kind of structure I work to is that when I want (or need) to write, I plan my day around it. 

If I'm working, I'll try to go in a bit earlier so I can leave a bit earlier. Once I'm home, I get everything I need to do out of the way. Laundry, a shower, cooking myself dinner, anything like that - I do it all as soon as I get home. Then, I have the rest of the evening to work on my book.

If it's a weekend, I'll plan out what I'm going to do. If I want to go into town, maybe write in a coffee shop, I set myself a time to go in and set some alarms. If I'm just staying at home, I decide if I'm going to get up and do some work on my blog or send some emails in the morning, if I'll catch up on TV and then start writing around three in the afternoon. I'll set myself some timings to work towards. Even if they don't matter or mean anything, they just help give me some focus.

And I don't know about you, but I just find it so much easier to sit down and work on a book when I know I've got the time and I don't have to worry about anything else. 

I mean, if I got home from work and started writing straight away - I might be there till eleven o'clock, and I will have skipped dinner, I'll still need to take a shower, the laundry I needed to do never got done... And then I just feel frustrated with myself and stressed out. It's just not helpful for me to work like that.

But as I've said before... Deadlines are my best friend

Frankly, if I've got all the time in the world to edit a book for my agent/publisher, it's not going to get done until they need it. It'll get done, but unless they tell me when they need it, I'll end up working on other things and de-prioritising it.

So I set deadlines, or I ask for them. 

For example, the latest book I just finished a first draft of - I knew if I just worked on it over time, other projects (cough The Kissing Booth 2 and The Beach House cough) would get in the way. So I told my agent I'd get her the finished first draft by February 14th. 

And I did.

I had plenty of evenings where I wasn't working on it and knew I should be, but I also had plenty of evenings where I sat down and told myself, no, tonight, this is what you're working on, this is what we're doing. It's not that I'm not enjoying working on the books or anything - it's just that sometimes, it can feel more like work, and make me feel like I need to put more effort into focusing... If only because I'm treating it like work and worrying about the pressure of this book that will, hopefully, someday go out into the world, and I want it to be as good as it can be.

When I have a deadline, I try to set goals...

I'm not usually the kind of writer that can work to goals - like I said at the start of this post, I don't tell myself I'll write so many hundred or thousand words a day or week.

But when I'm working towards a deadline, I set myself rough goals. 'Hit 63k by next Tuesday' works better for me than 'Write 1,000 words a night every night until next Tuesday'. 

Something I did with my last manuscript was to pencil these sort of numbers in in my diary. 63k here, then 65k on the weekend, and 66k by the Wednesday... 69k by the weekend after that...

I didn't always keep to it, but it was just this visual reminder of the progress I was trying to make - and because of my deadline, felt like I needed to make.

...and I track my progress

This works better for me than setting goals. The goals mean nothing to me, really, they're just there as a visual reminder. But tracking my progress and shouting about it on Instagram or Twitter feels like a big motivator for me. I want to see how much I can do and see what I've achieved this time, so I'll just keep an eye on my word count each time I write. 

Honestly, my routine is no more structured than that

I'll give myself some time and space to write, try to make it as easy as I can for myself to have a productive and stress-free writing session, and just write away. I might do a few dozen words and really not be feeling it one night or I might spend and entire weekend glued to my laptop and only getting up to plug it into the charger. 

Sometimes I wish I could be more disciplined with myself, but it's never worked out for me like that. With my day job, it's different. With my writing, it always feels like such a creative thing that I hate forcing myself to do something just for the sake of doing something. I'd much rather write because I want to.

Editing is a different bag again, of course. With editing, I treat it more like work. I'll do the same thing by trying to plan my day or week around it to give myself the time to edit, but then, it's much more a case of sitting down and forcing myself to work through it. I'll build in breaks as much as I can and set more goals when I'm editing (in terms of getting through a certain number of chapters at a time, for instance), because - at least for me - it's something that feels like a very different mindset to put myself in.

I'd love to hear if any of you have a set writing routine - let me know in the comments! 

1 comment:

  1. OMG. Pretty much the same here. I'd rather not wrote when I don't feel like to because it's true that it translates-if you're bored that's what would be felt when it's read. And when I get my ass into it on the days I was so inspired, I go shotgun and amused I actually finished a lot. Buy yeah,when you have a time boundary it pushes you into working and like what I do for school works, they never get done until the a day or two before the due. Pretty much a seasonal writer here. Haha


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