Write Habits?


My Writing Habits

I’m a late-riser, and a late-sleeper. Since there’s no one who needs my time, I basically plan my own day, preferring to write at night, say from 11pm to 4am, when the house is quiet, and when I’m most productive. This is when I write most of my blog posts and do most of my writing. The rest of the time is usually spent doing other writerly stuff like reading or editing.

I get a ‘second’ wind around 5pm – 8pm where I find a can write a fair bit as well. In total, I try to keep about 6-7 hours of pure writing time a day. Anymore and my eye sight gets fuzzy and I just get too tired and go do some other stuff.

From this, you can tell my bio-clock is probably screwed from spending too much time in another timezone 12 hours away since I visit my fiancee in San Fran while I’m in Singapore. (Going back there again in April.)

It’s not right, but it’s how I write.

Writer Work Ethics

That got me thinking about the work-ethics and habits that writers should generally keep, since I know I’m definitely nowhere near role-model standards. So I dug up some recent articles that gives a brief glimpse into the life of writers.

Here is it. BrainPickings.Org – Daily Routine Writers

In it, it chronicles the best bits/habits that some writers have credited for their success. Note, this has nothing to do with writing skill or story-development, its just personal habits to make you more efficient and feel better about what you do.

And for a more detailed look at one of the writer’s routine – BrainPickings.Org – Kurt Vonnegut’s Routine

This post is awesome from the get go with this quote that most of us probably live with everyday.

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”

One of the habits that greatly disturbs me, simply because it seems to be emulated by many writers, including a famous one – Michael Crichton, is this one quoted by William Gibson.

When I’m writing a book I get up at seven. I check my e-mail and do Internet ablutions, as we do these days. I have a cup of coffee. Three days a week, I go to Pilates and am back by ten or eleven. Then I sit down and try to write. If absolutely nothing is happening, I’ll give myself permission to mow the lawn. But, generally, just sitting down and really trying is enough to get it started. I break for lunch, come back, and do it some more. And then, usually, a nap. Naps are essential to my process. Not dreams, but that state adjacent to sleep, the mind on waking.


As I move through the book it becomes more demanding. At the beginning, I have a five-day workweek, and each day is roughly ten to five, with a break for lunch and a nap. At the very end, it’s a seven-day week, and it could be a twelve-hour day.

Toward the end of a book, the state of composition feels like a complex, chemically altered state that will go away if I don’t continue to give it what it needs. What it needs is simply to write all the time. Downtime other than simply sleeping becomes problematic. I’m always glad to see the back of that.

This worries me actually. Is sleep deprivation and the closing out of everything but your story so essential to the process. One of my fellow bloggers, Lindaghill, just finished the first draft of her novel as well, and well, it mentions sleep again as the reward for her efforts. Then again, she has an epic 210,000 word novel, I’m not even to 5 figures.

I understand an artist must suffer for his work, but I wonder if there’s some brain chemistry involved here that turns you into a ‘finisher’ when your brain doesn’t get enough sleep. As mentioned in the Michael Crichton post, there seems to be a link between the pace of writing to the amount of sleep you get. Less sleep seems to equate to less description, more action oriented story-driving to bring the story to a close.

Good thing then, that I’m still in the honeymoon period of writing a book. But seriously, these comments seem a little scary. Stop trying to scare people from finishing their book! I’ll set a good example and wake up at 11am and sleep at 9pm and still finish my book.

So what kooky habits do you keep as a writer? Or in life in general.

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10 thoughts on “Write Habits?

  1. Thank you for mentioning me! I’m honoured. 🙂

    I actually started off my novel as a NaNoWriMo project. I don’t know how to put links into comments but if you google nanowrimo.org you’ll be able to get the jist of what they do, if you don’t know about it already. All this to say, I started out with my daily routine consisting of nothing but getting out a word count of 1,667 words per day. Having said that I would LOVE to be able to set myself a schedule. Having kids unfortunately precludes the opportunity. I just take the time where I can get it, which is extremely frustrating sometimes.

    • Do you constantly edit and rewrite? Or do you stick to whatever you write regardless of how it sounds and come back later?

      • The only way to stick to the word count is to keep writing. Then again, if you’re working 6 or 7 hours a day it’s not a problem… Maybe try 3,000. In 30 days you’ll have 90,000 words. 🙂 I think the trick is definitely to just keep going and then go back and edit. It worked for me and apparently it works for Stephen King…and who am I to argue with Stephen King? haha

      • I have a serious edit problem then, I’ll try to just keep writing.

      • If you’re anything like me you’ll find that your work will flow, your characters will grow right before your eyes and even surprise you sometimes. Don’t look back!

        Good luck 🙂

      • Ok, things are flowing SO MUCH better now. I’ve wrote some 2000 words in about 4.5 hours of writing. (Meaning I average only about 400 words per hour). The story is taking on a life of its own now, going in strange but wonderful places I’ve only just thought of seconds before I put it to paper.

        Not looking back. Best advice anyone has given me as a writer. You should write a guide for that.

      • Aren’t those little surprises your story comes up with just the best feeling in the world? 🙂
        It was Nanowrimo that taught me the joy of just moving ahead. I’m sure there are already guides out there in the thousands… I’m just passing the message along. I’m glad you’re enjoying it! 😀

      • Yea, I know of nanowrimo. 1667 x 30 – 50,000 right?

        I’ll give the continual writing thing a try, instead of always looking over my shoulder. Thanks for the advice. I did that last night, and went 1300 words in about 3 hours, which is fast for me. Also just going with the flow seems to improve the conversations, though it tends to drag but it sounds more natural.

        P.S: I’m aiming for somewhere between 20,0000 – 25,000 for my first one. I prefer faster pace stuff now, and I think the e-reader market for such shorter forms is growing a lot i.e. the 99 cent crowd.

      • Very true. There are so many new authors out there now that people aren’t willing to take a chance by spending money on something they won’t like. Once you make a name for yourself however, the sky’s the limit.
        I’ll be happy to read anything you write!
        Have fun 🙂

  2. While my kids are in school, I prefer to write the way you do and sleep when they are gone. Right now, and for many months, as we transition and move, I write when I can, but feel guilty. I would feel more guilty if I slept through their Spring Break tho! 😉

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