People ask me about that too, and I’m never quite sure how to answer. Yes? No? Sometimes? It varies?

I think my ideal day goes something like this: Wake up around 7 AM. Check emails, read blogs — ease into the day. Take the dog for a walk, and then work until lunch. Break briefly for internet stuff, house chores and whatnot. Then work until it’s time to walk and feed Riley again. Have my own dinner, and finally, relax with Andy and a good book or TV show until bed.

In theory, that’s my routine, but in reality, random stuff comes up all the time. (Also, I’m easily distracted, so even if I try to follow the schedule above, the proportion of time spent on each activity isn’t always what it should be…)

I go through phases, too. Maybe it’s due to weather — because my wrists hurt more in the heat and humidity, and when it’s cold out, I have to delay Riley’s walks until the sun has been up for awhile. Or maybe it’s just due to needing change from time to time. Things work until they don’t, you know? At one point I was working from midnight until 3 or 4 AM and then sleeping in until 10 or 11. Not exactly a sustainable lifestyle, but productive while it lasted.

And that’s the thing: it never lasts. No matter what it is. We’ll go on a trip that throws everything off-schedule, or I’ll have a doctor’s appointment in the middle of my preferred work hours, or a whole lot of laundry will pile up and demand to be done, or I’ll just… run out of steam.

(I can only imagine how much more chaotic things must be for writers with kids or jobs, or authors who go on book tours.)

Even knowing this — even knowing that the writing life is completely mutable — I still find myself wondering: What is your writing routine?

I love when other writers are asked this. I love hearing their responses and comparing their days to mine. I admit: When I was younger, I believed (or at least hoped) that I could copy another writer’s routine and it would work for me. It would be some kind of secret key to a successful writing life. Now I know better. Now I know that we’re all just doing the best we can, trying to find what works for us, what works for each new project.

But still, I like the question, and I like the variety of answers. I like trying things that other writers are doing, or feeling a kinship if we’re already doing the same thing. I like that there’s no right or wrong.

13 responses to “Routine”

  1. T. S. Bazelli Avatar

    I used to get annoyed whenever my writing routine changed, but now I know that it just keeps changing because life and other things do. I’d hate to be stuck doing things one way forever though! That sounds pretty boring.

  2. jkftravel Avatar

    I spend all day, every day, desperately trying not to be distracted by shiny objects. Does that count as a routine?

  3. Anthony Lee Collins Avatar

    I don’t have a writing routine. These days, I’m lucky to grab a few minutes here and there, so I grab them and make the most of them.

    Which I don’t mind. I like to think that nothing about my writing is routine, including how it’s produced. :-)

  4. Shari Avatar

    You know, now that I’m thinking about it, my routine has actually stayed fairly consistent throughout multiple projects. I’m an early bird – always have been – so I’m awake by 7:00, check email/FB/blogs, and then get right to work. If I have an appointment or something else that cuts into my writing time during the day, I just get up earlier to compensate. The entire last week of editing on my WIP, I was awake by 6:00 — made for some sleepy evenings! :P

  5. tagrsTrisha Avatar

    I hope you have an appreciation for just how fortunate you are.

  6. Kristan Avatar

    Exactly! And haha, that’s one way to look at it. I don’t mind “boring,” actually, but I do think it’s probably healthy to shake things up every now and then.

    Lol well it certainly applies to most people.

    Another good way of framing it, hehe.

    You’re amazing! I can’t believe how you’ve flown through your revisions. :)

    I hope it doesn’t seem like I don’t.

  7. Mieke Zamora-Mackay Avatar

    I feel the same kinship you mentioned when I hear about other writers’ routines. It gives me the comfort to know that I’m really not alone in the way I do things.

  8. Juliann Avatar

    I’m always interested in hearing about other writers’ processes, too. I don’t have any type of routine when it comes to writing. Generally, I write in snatches of time and words. I’ll sneak 10 minutes here, 30 minutes there. I don’t typically write more than 200-500 words at a time except during NaNoWriMo. Even then, it’s usually 500 words in a sitting and then more later.

    I like to write a few hundred words, leave it, think on it, and come back to it and see whether I want to go on. Many projects get abandoned that way, but I’m okay with that.

  9. Natalia Sylvester (@NataliaSylv) Avatar

    How funny…I wrote about morning writing this week because I’m definitely in a morning writing routine lately. I’m starting to realize I go through cycles, rotating the same 3 or 4 routines that I’ve found work for me. None are sustainable for me long-term, but they usually get me through a draft or two, before I have to switch them up. Since each book asks different things of the writer, sometimes I think the hardest part is letting go of the idea that this ONE routine should work, and trying on new ones until it fits. Like Cinderella, yes?

  10. mandy Avatar

    When I was freelancing my routine seemed to change by the minute, but for the most part I was up by 7, reading blogs and drinking coffee for about an hour, working until I got hungry, then working some more until 6 or 7. It always changed when my brother would call me on his day off and want to go to brunch (who can say no to that?) or, like you said, I had a doctor’s appointment, etc.

    That’s interesting about your wrists, though… mine are worse in the summer, too. Never thought it could have to do with heat and humidity!

  11. Kristan Avatar

    I love you for saying 250-500 words at a time! That’s probably my average too, but I know people on Twitter who think 1,000 words is a slow day. o_O

    And yeah, I too will write on a new idea, only to abandon it, and be totally okay with that. Some seeds aren’t meant to grow, but rather just to give us a better idea of what to plant next. :)

    “Since each book asks different things of the writer, sometimes I think the hardest part is letting go of the idea that this ONE routine should work, and trying on new ones until it fits.” – So true!

    I *think* it’s because my wrist pain is from overuse of certain muscles & tendons, which are then constantly rubbing against bones and whatnot, so they get aggravated/enlarged. But in the cooler months, the low temperatures keep the tendons/muscles from swelling up, reducing friction and pain.

    I prefer not to take ibuprofen (though I have copped to it on occasion) but I do find that ice packs help!

  12. Becky Wallace Avatar

    I write in frantic fits and starts. “Ah! The kids are entertained. I’ll write. Ah! The baby is sleeping. I’ll write.” It wasn’t always this way, but it’s the best I can do now. :)

    1. Kristan Avatar

      Well it works great for a lot of writers, so you’re in good company! ;)