Tuesday, June 7, 2011


How do you start your writing day? Do you sneak in an hour and a half before your world wakes up? Grab ten minutes here and there throughout the work day (also known as ninja-writing hi-ya!)? Do you only write on weekends, or practice the ancient art of BIC (butt-in-chair) every day, come hell, high water or reruns of Firefly?

I write at night, after the day job, after the kid has been fed, watered and put to bed. After the flowers have been addressed and the cats have been attended to. I might do nothing but trim and polish. I might waffle over a couple of hundred words. Last night I laid down 1,700 words. That's a very good writing day for me.

How do I prep my writerly brain? I wake the laptop, grab sustenance (usually popcorn and water - it's not as dire as it sounds. that's what I choose), let Pandora do its thing and play a game of electronic mah jong solitaire. This allows me to shake off the crap the day has dropped on me, and helps me to focus. If I can't focus after that, then I'll email someone, clean something or - if I'm in a particularly bad way - work out. Then, repeat the earlier steps. If I still can't focus, it's because Something Bad is nagging me, or because I'm too tired to actually fire up the brain. On those nights, such rare nights, I'll drag a book to bed and let it sing me to sleep.

How do you do it, folks? How do you write


  1. I write during my lunchbreak at work. Grab the lappie, grab a spare meeting room, and motor for 55 minutes.

    Around 9.30 at tnight, I'll sit down on the couch, trim what I wrote at lunch, then write for a couple more hours with the dog asleep on my lap. If i need to clear my head first, I'll go pwn some n00bs on League of Legends. God bless violent video games!

  2. Hum - besides kids, which I don't have, my routine is very similar to yours - cats, flowers, etc. I don't do the sustenance part (but I might get off the chair and grab some fruit in the kitchen), my game before writing is usually Spider Solitaire (sometimes Mah Jong too - it's relaxing). If I can go from there, I'll put down something like 500 words. I great days, I can write aroud 2000 words. And in a bad day I'll just give up and surf blogs and AW and pretty much anything but writing. :)

  3. I don't really have a process. I write when I can. A lot of it is done at work. I sneak in a line or two between tasks. The rest is done at home. Sometimes, I'm on my laptop in the family room while my 7-year old draws or writes on her own laptop or watches SpongeBob and my husband is doing whatever he wants to do. Sometimes, as I plan to do this weekend, I sit in the office at the PC with a glass of wine and all my notes.

    Music isn't necessary for me. In fact, it distracts me which is funny considering that I can type away while my co-workers blab on around me or the TV blasts in front of me or my daughter runs around the house. I'm not sure why I can block that stuff out (and still be alert should my boss or daughter need me) but not music.

  4. I write whenever I can which, until very recently, was not at all. The best times for me are when I'm alone and it's quiet. No music, no white noise, and certainly no more cheerleaders. "Gah! I don't want to give you an "A", Tiffany! I want to be left alone!
    "For now."

  5. I wake up against my will to the tune of my two-year-old son who demands I get out of bed and make him some weeties (it's an Aussie thing). I fire up my laptop (if I bothered to turn it off the night before, that is) and sit down and read over what I'd written a few hours beforehand. Then I spend the rest of the day bowing down to my children's demands and getting a few words in here and there.

    Most of my writing is done at night, though, after the kids and my husband are in bed. It's just me and the heater and a silent, sleeping household, and it's AWESOME.:)

  6. I *try* not to have a routine or ritual so I can't use it an an excuse not to write (oh, things aren't just so; I can't write today). And I would use it as an excuse.

    Still, I have this (thus far) unavoidable sense that I can only write if I have a minimum 1.5 hr block of time for it. I know the 15 minutes here, 30 minutes there works perfectly fine for many a writer. It works horribly for me, because I have to have time to get back into the story "head space".

    I usually start my writing period with about 30 minutes of reading and lightly editing the previous day's writing, getting back into the flow and mood of the current scene. Humph. That sounds suspiciously like a ritual. Curses.

  7. I used to do the spider solitaire thing, but I developed little rules for myself. Like, "I have to win a game before I can start writing." As I got better at spider solitaire, it became, "I have to lose a game before I can write." Then I found that my rule changed depending on my luck -- I'd follow whichever rule would delay writing. Sometimes, I'd manage to not write at all!! So I deleted spider solitaire from my computer.

    Now, I have to reread and twiddle with the 5-10 pages leading up to the new material before I can push ahead. At least that's vaguely constructive.

    And morning is best. Before the clutter and irritations of the day make me want to collapse on the couch and watch Bones re-runs. (I solved the Firefly thing by buying the dvds.)

  8. Jay - God bless violent video games/movies/music. Nothing clears the head or gets you in the mood faster. For writing, I mean.

    EEV - AW is my cryptonite. My ridiculously fun and supportive cryptonite. :)

    April - I'm with you on the music. If I try to write with it, I end up with horrible homophone problems, some of which can't be puzzled out even in context. However, I do often wear headphones when I write. With nothing playing. It's...a quirk.

    Cobra - That's fine. Just head down to your basement lair, with the single, naked lightbulb, and continue scrawling your manifesto on the wall. Nobody's judging. ;)

    Jaime - Yes! There is something mentally liberating about being the only conscious person in a house!

    Margo - Again, we're not here to judge. We're just passively judging while reading and commenting. ;)

    Marie - O.O Spider Solitaire was out to get you! I, too, find rereading and soft editing a good way to ease into writing and sink into the voice of the piece.

  9. I write whenever I have a free moment. Sometimes, it's only 10 minutes, 15 there, another 10 over that way. Sometimes, it's a full hour! The only pre-writing thing I do is a quick look over what I wrote last time and then jump in.

  10. I occasionally try the ninja-writing at work, but I generally find myself too distracted to write anything worthwhile. So I make sure to sit my BIC for a couple of hours every night, and most of the day on the weekends.

    Eesh...no wonder I feel like I don't have a life.