The Writing Life

Image by Simply Bike via Flickr

{So, I decided to start yet another series of posts for the best reasons of all: because this is my blog, and because I can. It’s simply titled, The Magic of Writing—that indefinable, ineffable relationship between the writer and the muse.}

I probably shouldn’t have titled this post, “Routines” since that implies a certain healthy-ness that my writing habit does not have. Maybe “Ritual” would be more appropriate. Or, “Addiction.” Oh well.

Anyway, a running theme with all time management gurus is this: whatever goal you have, make sure you do it first thing in the morning. There are plenty of reasons why this advice is common, so I won’t get into that here. And, I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with that advice. I’m just saying it’s out there.

Well, I’ve discovered a long time ago that I’m not a first thing in the morning kind of writer. I’m actually not the best thing at anything first thing in the morning, unless you count coffee and meditation (read: staring off into space) as a “thing.” (Although, while on vacations, I enjoy morning walks on the beach. Since I live in the Midwest, this is not so much a possibility in my everyday life…) But, after my cup of coffee, putting the dishes away, and my morning ablutions, I can sit down and hammer away at the keyboard and sprint out a couple of pages before work. Then, after a day of work and other non-think-y pursuits, I can bust out more pages at night right before bed. (Actually, through a happy accident of passing out on the couch after a late night movie marathon, and not being able to get back to sleep, I found that I’m the most productive and creative between 1AM-4AM…possibly because my brain is really supposed to be sleeping and dreaming, but hey, whatever works, right?)

But, before my self-discovery, I thought I was the most uninspired, unfocused writer ever! After all, ALL the author websites that I’ve visited that have a “My Writing Process” page include waking up at 6AM to write their requisite page counts per day. I know all writers have a different process, and we all have to find out what works best for us, but I always felt “wrong” for not having a morning writing session.

Now, I have my semblance of a routine, and feel good about it. (I know, I know, I should sleep more, but sometimes, writing into the night and “dreaming” that way is WAY more refreshing to me than sleeping a full eight hours.)

How about you? When are you the most productive? What habits/quirks/superstitions do you have in your writing routine?


17 thoughts on “Routines

  1. Angie Cothran says:

    It looks like you have hit an nerve with all the night owls who feel persecuted by the early birds 🙂 I’m like you…and yes staring into space is a thing. My brain won’t function in the morning, it never has. I love the idea of finding what works for you and not letting anyone make you feel guilty for it. Great post.

  2. Michael McDuffee says:

    I’m one of the AM writers, but that has as much to do with my job as anything else. I’m also married to a woman that wakes up at 5AM to go work out every day, and I am a light sleeper. At some point I decided to join her (since I couldn’t sleep through it anyhow), and I started to like it. Between my workout and my job I get in an hour or so a day with a cup of coffee and a dog curled up against me.

    I’m a programmer, so after spending 9 hours or so staring at computer screens all day I don’t really want to do that any more in the evenings, which pretty well shoots down attempts at writing unless I’m really pushing myself.

    • Liza Kane says:

      Dude, I SO understand what you mean about “If I see one more __” when it comes to the end of a work day. It’s probably why I don’t have an unholy attachment to my cell phone like most people (though I like to use my iPhone, I definitely don’t use it as a phone!)

      Your mornings sound wonderful! They almost sound like mine, except for the dog, and I’d probably be crawling *into* bed at 5, rather than out of it… 😉

      Thanks for sharing!

  3. theliteraryshack says:

    Thanks for the cool post. I’m rather ashamed to say that recently I’ve been most productive while browsing on the internet. I would browse some page, get attacked by some I-must-write-this idea and type away. But usually, I am a morning writer. It works out best because that’s the time of the day I’m devoid of things like headaches or worries about the other side of life.

  4. kelworthfiles says:

    I think the closest thing I have to a writing ritual would be pulling out my alphasmart or netbook as soon as I’ve gotten a seat on the bus. 😉 Otherwise, it varies – usually if I’m at home, I’ll write from the armchair next to the living room table – usually I put music on, but sometimes I have to turn it off so that I can concentrate.

    All that I can say is, figure out what works for you and do it!

  5. Deana Barnhart says:

    I’ve done it all ways and I can’t say any way is better for me personally. It seems to be the one that works for that day kind of thing. I say if you found a time and your good to go you are doing pretty darn good:)

    • Liza Kane says:

      heehee, thanks! It’s a *little* unsettling waking up on the couch sometimes on those days I push myself to write write write, but I always feel good about it in the end 😉

  6. Carolina Valdez Miller says:

    For a long time, I thought I wasn’t a real writer because I didn’t do anything like other writers. I rarely wake up early just to write. My brain just doesn’t function well then. I can barely get my contacts in my eyeballs that early. But at 11PM, my brain really revs up and gets creative. I have a feeling we’d do well at a retreat together.

    • Liza Kane says:

      Yay! My point exactly! I love that you *get* me 😉
      I always felt like a pretend-writer because I did nothing like “real writers”…once my perspective changed, and I was actually, you know, writing, I didn’t feel the need to compare myself with other people.
      (A retreat would be fun! You, Michele, and I would totally rock it…I can smell the coffee and bagels from here! ^_^ )

  7. Michele Shaw says:

    I *want* to be the most productive during the day, but honestly, I write the most and the best late at night with everyone sleeping. I really just try to catch time whenever and wherever I can:) There is no set schedule, other than working around everyone else’s schedule! Glad you found what works for you! xo

  8. Emily Rittel-King says:

    I’m not a morning person either. I tend to do better writing later in the day. I’ve stopped trying to make myself get it done right away, and set aside time for the afternoon. The thing about routine is that it has to be what works for you. If it’s not your thing, don’t try to do it just because some expert says so. It’s okay to do it differently. : )

    • Liza Kane says:

      Yup…that’s exactly what I had to learn on my own–>that I can “disagree” with experts and do what I want because it works for me!
      Thanks for sharing, and I’m happy to find a lot of non-morning writers, too! ^_^

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