Every writer is different, but I thought I might share a little bit about my writing routine.
I write every weekday from 6:30 am to 7:30. Alarm number 1 goes off at 6, alarm number 2 goes off at 6:20. On a good day I get up before both of them, on a bad day I snooze until the second goes off a few times. I fire up my computer, bribe the rabbit editor into silence, post to twitter, and then get to writing. When the flow comes and the writing goes well I start with a vague idea of what I’ll be writing and the words just fly from my hands. When it’s not going well I stare at the screen. Those empty minutes can be murder. Eventually something clicks, and by the last 15 minutes of writing time I’ve got a thousand ideas. I end up skipping breakfast and getting to my day job late.
The last thing I do every night is read over what I wrote that morning. I give it a first edit and make sure it’s the thing on my mind as I fall asleep. I can skip this, if something comes up or I have to handle a dramatic phone call, but it makes those first few minutes in the morning that much worse.
Saturday mornings I have a choice, write my weekly blog post or read over everything in my WIP (Work In Progress) to make sure it flows right and fix any logic errors (i.e. no one has 3 arms in a love scene, guns don’t fire 30 bullets without a reload, etc.). I tend to leave myself notes on Saturday morning that say things like ‘need sex scene’ or ‘don’t forget to find the murder weapon’.
My goal is 5 pages of new writing each day. The goal is cumulative, so if I haven’t hit 25 pages by Friday, Saturday morning I play catch-up.
I keep a writing journal. Last year’s journal was a wonderful desk size calendar with envelope pockets and all sorts of organizational geekery. This year it’s just a week-at-a-glance appointment calendar. I write down a rough idea of the scene (‘find second body’, ‘track down murder’s car’) and the total page count when I’m done (‘to 133’). Writing journals are great for keeping you honest. I took some time off in March, after I wrapped up a work in progress. I expected to take about a week. My journal tells me I took 6. Oops.
How did I develop my routine? Force of habit and bitter mistakes. I write in the morning not because I’m good at it, or I like the mornings, but because by writing first thing there’s no way other things can get in the way and prevent me from writing. Admittedly, the flow doesn’t always come, but if I don’t get up and try every morning the silence in my head only gets worse.
When I find myself completely without something to write, I often caress the keys of my laptop. Yes, I realize that makes me sound like a freak, but try it sometime. Run the tips of your fingers over the almost too smoothness of your keyboard. Don’t put any pressure behind it, just let your fingers feel the plastic, the edges, the raised dots on the F and the J. This silliness doesn’t always bring me some great idea, but it usually brings me an idea, and most days, that’s enough. When it’s not I go back to the old standards, I write about the weather, I describe characters, or I write about my own emotions and give them to someone on the page. But rest assured, first thing in the morning, at least five days a week, you’ll find me writing something. I wouldn’t have it any other way.