Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Writers' Routines

I admit cheerfully that I am a creature of habit. Routines make my day a little saner. I'm sure this evolved from the time when my children were very small and any semblance of order was welcome in that endless chaos. Routines are still adhered to in the house (during the school year). Homework is done at a certain time. Meals and snacks have their appointed hours. It's not surprising then that I have built a writing routine.

I can only write on a computer. I have a fairly fast typing speed so I can keep up (more or less) with my thoughts. My handwriting quickly becomes hieroglyphics which is fairly unhelpful if I'm experiencing a creative burst.

I cannot write if there are other people in the room. It's impossible. I don't like the feeling of someone peering over my shoulder and seeing the words appear on the screen. I am a harsh enough judge of my work and any words of encouragement usually fall on deaf ears. I have said to my family that they're in a lose-lose situation. Criticism at an early stage is not encouraged and praise will be disbelieved since my thinking is that they have to say something nice.

Music? Only classical and only if I'm writing casually. If I'm under a deadline or the words are really flowing (what unspeakable joy) then silence is a must. I also am a writer-mutterer especially when it comes to dialogue. I mutter what I write and at the same time add editorial comments. This also may be another reason why I have to write alone - I'm not eager for other's to view my performance!

Before the writing? Emails must be checked and answered. Blogs must be enjoyed! A few games of Freecell never hurt anyone! If today's job is research then the internet is trolled. Pictures are captured. Time to sit back, turn up the radio and absorb my new knowledge. How can I use it? Can I use it? The self-knowledge of recognising that I'm looking up something for my own interest and nothing really to do with the WIP can be somewhat shattering but is ruefully acknowledged.

What are your routines? Are you one of these lucky creatures that can write anytime, anywhere? Must you (like some writers I know) write the first draft by hand and transfer it to computer as a second draft? I'm curious. Share your routines!


  1. No real routines. Having a baby killed my Type-A personality :)
    Now I try to squeeze in writing when she naps... except now she is down to one/day, so I have to adjust again.

  2. Thanks for dropping by, Carolyn! I remember those days well - cherish the naps, they end all too soon!

  3. I used to write by hand; now I only use the computer. I have to have silence. With a husband who offices in our loft, that often means shutting my door and putting on headphones, but no music. I wouldn't like someone reading over my shoulder either. Usually when I'm editing my words, I'll shut the door and read it aloud so I can hear the words. I don't want someone hearing it at this stage either.


    Straight From Hel

  4. The primary thing is solitude. No one is allowed near me when I am writing.

    Typing my thoughts is a must...my fingers can keep up with my thoughts.

    Music is a neccessity for me...I need something in the background. Even TV works. The noise then gets mentally blocked out as "white" noise.

    I sometimes talk out loud as my characters and have imagined interviews with them.

    I love finding pictures on the internet that look like how I imagine my characters. This gives me a face to put with the name.

  5. I'm a solitude and silence writer.

    Other than that, it seems my "routine" is always changing. I like the flexibility, but I think I was getting more done when I kept to a schedule.

  6. I wish I could have a routine! Necessity forces me to write on the go and at a moment's notice. It's not ideal (and one day it won't be this way), but I've made it work.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  7. I can't write at a moment's notice, sadly. I need a space of time. Otherwise, I'm too distracted looking at the clock, "Am I late yet?!"

    Your pre-writing routine really cracked me up, because it's close to identical to mine: reading email, checking blogs, etc.

    I use music when I need help getting into a mood for a certain scene. And classical is great for that (as are movie soundtracks.)


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