Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Daily Writing Routine

When I was working (read: employed) I used to write on my days off. The people around me knew that Tuesday was writing day. After I retired I gradually became less disciplined. There was more time -- too much, perhaps. I became easily distracted. If I was writing and I thought of something that needed attention, I'd go look after it. It could be as trivial as adding an item to the weekly shopping list, or checking to see if I should water my houseplants.

Finally, I realized that if I wanted to be more productive, I needed a regular routine. Besides, the muse has to have a way to reach me, and with my mind running all over the place, she wasn't having much luck.

I made the decision that I must be ready to go to work every morning at 9. I must have had breakfast and be dressed for the day. No more writing in my PJs. I keep a pad beside me as I write, and if something off-topic comes to mind, I write it down. It can be looked after when my work day is done.

Now, I have to confess that I had let email become 'way too important to my day. I had to make a new rule for myself: NO CHECKING EMAIL UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO BE DISTRACTED. Reading email early in the day, which is when I happen to be at my creative best, has been totally distruptive for me. If I didn't reply to it immediately, I'd be thinking about my responses. Or I might read an email that unsettled me, got my mind going in another direction entirely. That's the kiss of death for me!

It's not a hard schedule to follow. I take a short break at 10:30, the same as one does at a regular job. Then I go back to work till 12 noon. I have lunch, check my email and go for my walk. The afternoon is when I look after any household chores and prepare the evening meal. But I find that after an uninterrupted morning of writing, my mind is still so absorbed with the story that I return to the manuscript frequently during the rest of the day. And this is good. Because much of the preparation for writing takes place in my head.

A writer needs self-discipline, and this is the routine that works for me. I'd love to hear how you schedule your writing day.

Write on!


Willow said...

My routine is more like your old one :>) Lots of breaks and checking of emails. I can't concentrate for long, so I guess I need the breaks--anyway, I'm starting the sequel to my Tirissa novel and so far my (non)routine seems to be working.

Peggy Dymond Leavey said...

Whatever works, Willow. I just found I wasn't moving forward with my new novel idea; I kept re-working the same old pages. I've been amazed at how it's moved along since I began spending whole chunks of time on it, allowing no distractions.

mtn.charley said...

It is really interesting, that you decided to get up every day, eat breakfast, get dressed, then go to work. Treating your writing like a job, instead of a hobby, could only help to improve it, I should think.

William B. Leslie

Peggy Dymond Leavey said...

That's certainly my hope, mtn.charley. Thanks for your comment!