It’s been six months since I started writing full-time and I’ve developed a satisfying, productive weekday routine.
My writing day starts just after 8am, once the kids have left for school. I usually walk my sons part of the way, although we’re working up to them making the trip on their own. This provides me with a mini-commute to my own home office (pictured above!). I do miss the longer walks that I used to have when I walked to work everyday, and I’d like to get better at integrating more walks (or other exercise) into my daily schedule.
Once I sit down at my desk, I shut off my email program and open up my bullet journal to make my daily to-do list: at the top is always the goal of writing at least 1000 words.
Next, I open up a lined notebook and dash off three pages of longhand journal-type writing. These are my morning pages; stream-of-consciousness, near-automatic writing where I unload all my random thoughts onto paper in order to clear out my mind. Sometimes I use these pages to work through questions or difficulties about my characters, or to generate ideas or details for my upcoming scenes.
As soon as these pages are done, I open up my draft in Scrivener. If I’m mid-scene, I’ll read over what I’ve written so far; if I’m starting a new scene, I’ll read the mini-synopsis and notes in my outline. Then I’m off! My main philosophy is to keep up the story’s momentum, so I try to suppress my perfectionist tendencies. Once this draft is done, I know I’ll be editing and revising every scene, so there’s no point in agonizing over the right vocabulary now. Of course, I’m always aiming for interesting images or phrasing, but I try not to get bogged down or overly frustrated with individual paragraphs.
I like a quiet working environment, so I don’t listen to music while I’m writing. I wear comfortable clothes (yoga pants are the best!) and I tend to bundle up in multiple layers, since my little office is poorly heated. I try to wear clothes that are decent enough for me to answer the door. I don’t always write in my office; I will move around the house sometimes, working at my dining room table or standing up at my kitchen counter.
Other than a coffee break around 9:30, I write until I’ve got my 1000+ words done. Ideally this is at the end of a scene, so there’s a natural finishing point. I aim to be finished by lunchtime, and I always record my actual word count in my calendar. Then I close down my program and get on with the rest of my to-do list. This often includes writerly tasks like submitting stories to magazines, critiquing friends’ work or working on short pieces of fiction. However, this is also when I send emails, make phone calls, tidy the house, do laundry and work on all the other non-glamourous tasks involved with keeping our household running smoothly. By 3:30, I’m outside my kids’ school, back in parenting mode and ready to bring them home.