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.”
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.
- Lee Child: Write What You Feel (wilsonkhoo.wordpress.com)
- The Two Pillars Of Plot Progression (wilsonkhoo.wordpress.com)
- Don’t be a creature of habit, change your routine! (waywardjourney.com)