Inside the Fiction Factory – Part 28

Routine

I find that I need a routine when it comes to writing. I can write anytime, and often do, but I do maintain a protected slot at the start of the day during which time the bulk of my writing is done. It works for me, your mileage may differ on this, so whatever works for you is absolutely fine. I write between 06:30 and 08:30 every morning. I work fulltime, so I have to stop at this point and to be fair I’m ready to call it a day. I will mull over where I’m at and what’s coming up through lunchtime and scribble notes during breaks, but the main thrust is this two hour window when my world is fairly quiet.

I don’t sleep a lot, and when six am comes round every fibre of my being screams at me not to get up, but I do. I have this feeling of dread as soon as I wake and the thought I have to face the blank page, nervous that today is the day I won’t be able to do it, is almost overwhelming. No matter, I get up, shower, breakfast and then sit down at my desk and write. I don’t check my phone when I wake. I appreciate I may be in a minority here, but I previously found that too distracting. I spend breakfast thinking about what I’m writing next and gearing myself up to write. Most of my ideas for plot twists and indeed new stories come to me during this first half hour, which is again another reason why I don’t worry about what the Internet is saying. I use a pen and paper during this time just so I don’t lose a good idea. By half six I’m ready to move to my desk with the feeling of dread having left me.

I may not write solid for two hours. I easily do an hour and bit and if I feel I’ve made my wordcount – if I’m writing a first draft – or have covered enough during a rewrite, I can use the rest of the slot to check over the many tasks that writers need to take care of in their writing careers. Yes, that may in fact involve checking my phone and that’s okay. I can easily do 1500 words in an hour provided I have a plan (I work from plans and chapter outlines) so this target is achievable for me. If this is a first draft then I will make up the count to 2000 words at the end of the day, as I aim to complete a first draft in 30 days. If I’m working on a rewrite, I tend not worry about how many words I’ve covered. I work chapter by chapter, with the aim of finishing within 30 days. That can vary depending on how much I need to rewrite, so I don’t stress over it. The important thing is to keep progressing each day.

I still find it a scary proposition sitting down early and writing. As soon as I start all those thoughts go, which is why I have the routine and discipline to do it. Without this protected time I suspect I would be writing a good deal less. There always seems to be more interesting things to do, but it’s this routine that allows me to make good progress.

This morning was typical, with me feeling like the last place I wanted to be was at my desk, writing. Breakfast saw me coming up with an idea for a new novella with a working title of Algorithm and resulted in pages of scribbled notes as the plot came to me. I had had the initial idea a few weeks back and had jotted down a couple of keywords in a file just to remind me there was this germ of an idea floating around. This morning it crystallised into a fully formed idea and it’s likely to be written this quarter. I have been looking to write a free giveaway (more on this later) and I believe this new idea will be ideal for it. I will underline the point here, that if I had been scrolling on my phone I doubt my thoughts would not have resulted in this new story. Which takes me right back to where I came in – I need the routine to write, which is why I have one.

I know many writers like to write with background music. I can, and will do so at times, but never during this morning slot. It’s never been a consideration, and now I’m thinking about it again, it’s still not an option. I have speakers either side of my monitor and can have sounds in seconds, but it’s not for me. I know I would spend more time listening than writing.


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