Writers can get very particular about their daily routines.
I write with a felt-tip pen, or sometimes a pencil, on yellow or white legal pads, that fetish of American writers.
Steven King is as famous for writing every single day starting first thing in the morning as he is for his books (at least in word-nerd circles).
Here’s my writing routine, the one that fits in with my life as a working momma who likes to work out:
- Every other day for an hour first thing in the morning
- Most days I write on paper
- Some days I write straight into the computer
- I get clear on plot points and revise my outline every few weeks
I stick to my routine pretty closely because I know that if I’m not making regular progress on my novel, then I’m not being one hundred percent me.
But being one hundred percent me as writer doesn’t mean I can’t bend the rules sometimes. I find that occasionally altering my writing routine can lead to more creativity in critical scenes. Here are some of the ways I do it:
One of my all-time favorite authors Margaret Atwood routinely switches between paper and computer (like I do) but if you’re used to sticking with just one, you might be amazed at what a difference it makes to have both in your arsenal.
When I write on paper, I can more easily embrace the beauty of writing slow. I take more care with my dialogue and tend to write less of it. I wrap up scenes into entire more holistic pieces, so that each scene feels more complete.
On a laptop, I can blaze through a couple scenes. I can write summaries that keep the action moving along. I wrote more dialogue, more quickly and sometimes find myself being less descriptive (because I’m more focused on the action).
Sure, I can stop a medium from affecting me, but knowing its natural appeal helps me choose what I need in that moment for that scene.
95% of the time, I write in the morning.
The fact is that most writers are most productive in the morning. If you treat writing like a job, then you’ll start in the early hours. At least, that’s the common advice.
But other writers find that trying to squeeze in words at 6am leads for rushed work and grumbling stomachs.
Writing should never be a race to the finish.
It should be a long immersion in a hot tub or a relaxing meditation.
Good writers write at night, because it’s devoid of distraction, there’s nothing else left to do in the day, there’s no one else to hurry to. — Jonathan Manor
The dark, quiet of night is a deep well of inspiration. A beautiful source of creativity. Night writing allows you to focus fully on your love for moving your pen or tapping your keyboard with no thought of coming tasks.
I can write right anywhere. Can you?
Even though I can write anywhere, I write at home 90% of the time. Home is cozy, it’s where my tea and bed and books are! No matter how much time I spend writing at home, I’ll still love of the feeling of writing openly in public.
Yes, this world is crazy and the traffic is loud and that guy over there is shouting. But me? I’m sitting here on this hard bench with soft eyes and open soul and a pen. It’s a good feeling.
No lyrics–that’s what most writers swear by. Thievery Corporation, STS9, and even Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are some of my top pics for lyricless writing music. These Pandora Stations keep me from getting distracted by external stimuli, but none of them makes me feel terribly creative.
Anything from Tracy Chapman to Kevin Gates can have me writing more fluidly and with more feeling. When the lyrics get to be too much, I just switch back.
It’s easy to approach a scene the same way, over and over. You figure out what’s the most interesting thing that happened at the beginning of the scene and you start righting from there.
But if you don’t try writing in the middle or the end of the scene, then you won’t challenge yourself to turn what might be confusion into suspense. And if you don’t have some variety in where you enter your scenes, you’ll make your reader expect more of the same. A little dash of unpredictability is good no matter the genre.
Point of View might not be a writing routine per se, but many writers have a default POV that they routinely rely on.
I love the idea of Point of View as an exercise. Experienced writers easily fall out of the habit of trying out prompts and exercises, but POV is one we should never let die.
I won’t stop talking about my Liane Moriarity fandom because (in addition to writing hilarious, suspenseful, and emotional novels) she does POV switch-ups so well.
Take her first novel, Three Wishes, for example. The vast majority of it is in limited 3rd person. But between chapters, there are funny little snippets of 1st person.
Only, these snippets aren’t in the 1st person (I) perspective of the main characters. Instead, they’re the accounts of random bystanders who have witnessed the triplet sisters’ shenanigans.
Whether or not you actually incorporate twists of POV into your novel or use a new POV to generate interesting insights to better develop a character’s backstory, it’s a great exercise that can bring some newness to your routine.
Those are the main ways I vary my writing routine for maximum creativity. What ways do you switch up yours?