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Thursday, July 21, 2011

What's Your Daily Writing Routine?

It’s been a few weeks now since I started back working a ‘day job’ as well as trying to continue writing and marketing my books. Things have had to change! I thought I’d write a little today about what my day looks like, in the vague hope that maybe it will help or inspire others.

First off, I’m a morning person and not a night owl. I have to say this up front because it influences just how I do things. When I was younger (in my twenties) I used to be a night owl. But not anymore. I don’t know what happened or when it happened, but I’ve changed. I am definitely at my most creative when I first get up in the mornings.

But the problem is, I leave for my job at 7am! The challenge has been how do I get in my writing before I leave for work? Every day I now get up at 5am and set immediately to writing. Last thing the previous night I set the coffee ready to come on at 4:45am and I prepare my lunch for my day at work. As I stumble out of bed at 5am at least I know there is hot coffee waiting for me. I rub my eyes until they are roughly in focus, pour my coffee and go sit at my PC. Then I pull up my word processor and open my manuscript. My target is at least 1700 words in 75 minutes. That’s what it's all about. I need to write at an average speed of 22 to 24 words a minute to finish. Then as soon as I’m done it’s time to get showered, have breakfast, and head off for work. In between mouthfuls of breakfast I try to catch up on the overnight emails, set my Facebook status and generally perform ‘maintenance.’

My day at work affords me no real opportunities to spend further time on my book marketing activities, except for the occasional Twitter reply or conversation. So I have to wait until I get home again to continue my efforts. Evenings usually have their own challenges, but I try and get a blog post written or perform some marketing activity. I also try and catch up with emails and general correspondence. Finally I make sure my novel plot points are up to date and make any minor changes I need. The important point here is that I don’t want to have to prepare anything the following morning. I just want to be able to get up and write.

Writing is now a seven day a week activity. Thankfully, I’ll soon be done with my novel and I’ll be able to turn my attention to editing another novel that’s been ‘cooking’ for a while. Life is non-stop for an Indie author. Oh well, back to work. But it’s not such a bad life; 12,000 words a week towards a novel is pretty good for someone who also works a 50 hour a week job!

What's your writing routine?


  1. Your routine is admirable, Paul. When I used to work 70 + hour weeks (as a psychotherapist) I did a similar thing, writing when I awoke around 4:30 am before I went to work. But there was no real internet then--I don't know if I could manage all the balls you are juggling. I wish you great luck--your pace is admirable, too. Please check out my blog if you have time to work in any guest appearances--I would love to feature you.

  2. Many thanks for your comments, Jenny. And I will stop by your blog for a visit and maybe ask for a guest appearance!

  3. I think you may be the hardest working person in the world, from what I have seen. Your output is out of this world. Thanks for all of the good posts!

  4. I finished much of my first novel doing what you're doing--getting up around 5am so I could leave the house for other work. Knowing our strongest writing time is so key, don't you think? I'm a morning person, too and find that writing at night disrupts my sleep and causes me to spell words like 'the' wrong. ;)

    I now write all morning, minus a dog-walk break, then again until my gym break, then again until 5 or 6pm. I've added one day off per week...It's boosted my productivity. But I do love those every-day sprees once in a while.

    Thanks for another terrific post. Can't wait to read your novel once it's finished and out there.

  5. i really enjoyed this post. it came at the "right time" for me as i was just pondering my writing time & "projects schedule/routine"
    i am inspired by your focus :))

    keep shining

  6. I do what you do, that is wake at 5AM. But the trick I use, and I don't know if this would work for you, is that I leave for work around 5:40 and get to my office at 6:10, and THEN I start my writing until 8AM when I start my "other" job of doctoring. This arrangement achieves a couple of things: first, because I leave so early, traffic is super light and so my journey takes less time than if I were to leave after 7 AM, ie, the time saved contributes to writing time. Secondly, it avoids the situation in which I become so wrapped up in the writing before I leave for work that I don't notice it's getting late, and it avoids the hazard of driving to work in the daze that results from interrupting the creative process.

  7. Wow, I'm impressed with your discipline, as well as the quantity of writing you produce.

    I teach all 8 AM classes this semester (Monday through Thursday), and I am not what you would call a morning person. Since I already wake up in the sixes to leave for work at 7 AM, there is no way I will ever write in the morning during the school year.

    Monday through Thursday, I typically begin writing around 7 PM. Fridays and Saturdays, I begin around noon. I start writing on Sundays whenever I finish reading the paper, which is typically around 1 PM. I write until I run out of steam, or until the pile of student essays gets too unwieldy too ignore.

    During winter and summer breaks I typically write from noon to 4 PM every day. Sometimes longer. Aaaaah, breaks . . . only 14.5 weeks until summer! :)

  8. I always envy your enthusiasm Paul ever since I read and follow your tweets and blogs. Indeed, it's a big help for indie and aspiring author like me. I'm always having this hard time squeezing my schedule and at times my writing is always procrastinated, worse, forgotten in a day. I really hope one day I'll be done with this 1st novel and regardless if it'll be published or not, I'll be moving on and have that confident to write another and another and another. Thank you for the inspiration and selflessly sharing your knowledge.

  9. I just wanted to stop by and thank you all for the wonderful comments you have made. One day at a time. That's the only way we can be successful :-)

  10. Wow! That's dedication and I take my hat off to you. You deserve every success that comes your way. :)

  11. Writing is such hard work but rewarding as well. I too work a full time job as a nurse during the day but do most of my writing on my lunch breaks and at night after my husband, who works night shift, leaves. Average people just do not realize how much we as Authors put into our work. Great Post!

  12. I do most of my writing in the middle of the night. I used to complain that I couldn't sleep. Then I heard from so many writers that they don't have time to write. Lightbulb moment and I now get up and write instead of tossing and turning. Frequently I will go to bed wondering how to write the next scene and two hours later I wake up with the scene in my head.

  13. That sounds grueling! I am a night person so a five am start sounds like torture to me. I'm between jobs at the moment, so I have the luxury of writing during the day. Before that, I would often write at night, but with young children to get up and ready for school, I would struggle to get up and functioning for them in the mornings.

  14. This is an evergreen post and so here I am in September, 2013 commenting on a post dated July, 2011.

    I don't write 1/1,000th as much as I know I should.

    Is it laziness? Lack of time-management? Procrastination?

    Heck ... maybe it's all that and more.

    Your routine would wear out the average poppa-bear so I admire you John/Paul.

    Few questions:
    1. what's the font you used in the title heading of this post? I like it.

    2. where did you get the idea of using the graphs (top left panel of this blog) showing your current WIP's (writing-in-progress) projects -- I like the look of that idea

    3. it's now (my current time) some two years since you wrote this post -- did your plans sustain more writing over the longer term?

    Thanks and thanks again,

    Mike Searles

    1. Mike,

      Thanks for the comments.

      1. The font is Courier New
      2. I got the ideas of the WIP from Hugh Howey's blog. He uses a freely available utility from NANOWRIMO. I made mine using a public spreadsheet on Google Docs. I have a post somewhere where I document the process.
      3. Since 2011, I have moved house, much further away from my 'day job.' I leave home at 5:30am and get home around 4:30pm. I try and write an hour a day during the week, and a little more at the weekends. I usually manage a little over 10k words a week, sometimes more. I have a routine, and I've written about that more recently too.

      Good luck with your writing.