wall_clock_write_nowOur thanks to editor and Pressque founder Ellie Maas Davis for this guest post!

“To be a writer is to sit down at one’s desk in the chill portion of every day, and to write; not waiting for the little jet of the blue flame of genius to start from the breastbone—just plain going at it, in pain and delight. To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again, and once more, and over and over…”John Hersey

Becoming a writer is about routine and commitment, commitment and routine. No matter what the genre, a writer must have discipline, so don’t let a single day go by without writing. It’s the same as being an athlete, it takes daily practice—it’s work—if you want to be good.

After I had my daughter it felt like I had no time for anything. What with a newborn and a growing business, it was a losing battle to carve out a single hour. It’s what I thought I needed, an hour or two at the very least. I genuinely thought if I couldn’t spare an afternoon being lost in the shuffle of wordplay then it was hopeless. Six months passed without me writing a word when poet Carol Ann Davis offered sage advice: find fifteen minutes to write. Over the next five years it’s that fifteen minutes that’s changed my writing life. So while my bread and butter is editing and ghostwriting, each day I dedicate fifteen minutes to my own writing.

It’s been noted that James Joyce, after a “successful” morning of writing was glad to have three sentences. And let’s face it there are times when it takes seven hours to write three sentences. It makes me wonder how long it took Ernest Hemingway to write his six-word short story:

For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.

To be fair, the muse controls so much of what writers accomplish with the time we’re afforded. But I know one thing for certain: even when she’s most fickle, my muse is happiest with daily offerings, even if it’s only fifteen minutes, at the very least, she knows I’m serious.

If you’re a writer who’s not written today, sit down for the next fifteen minutes and get to work.

But do take a moment and tell us about your own writing routine with your comment below – what keeps YOU writing?

Ellie-DavisEllie Maas Davis is the founder of Pressque, a nine-year-old publishing consultation firm that offers editing, ghostwriting, and screenwriting services to authors and publishers. She has ghostwritten over twenty works of nonfiction, and is a go-to editor resource for the WWW team.

10 thoughts on “What’s Your Writing Routine?

  • August 21, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Thanks! I was just inspired to block out two two-hour times to write each day (one slot for books and one for blogs). Hope it works!

    • August 22, 2014 at 12:39 am

      Go get ’em, JoAnne! But remember, if the two hours gets cut short, hammer down those few precious moments to keep you in forward motion…

  • August 19, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Best writing advice I ever got was from Janet Dailey who told me to write every day no matter what. If you don’t take it seriously, it won’t take YOU seriously either. Good post! Interesting site.

    • August 19, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      Thanks for weighing in, Joyce – write on!

  • August 19, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    Although I keep a notepad with me everywhere I go, because I never want to lose an idea, I like to do my writing in coffee shops and bookstores. I like to have lots of people around me, having conversations that have nothing to do with me. I don’t eavesdrop. It’s quite the opposite. For some reason, all of the chatter gets me in the zone. All of a sudden I look up, all of the faces have changed, and I have several hours of writing or editing under my belt. In the case of bookstores, I also like being surrounded by hundreds or even thousands of books. It’s very inspiring.

    • August 19, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      Excellent insights, Joe – I agree – we think we need solitude but I end up getting more done when there’s lots going on around me – so long as they’re not talking to ME!

  • August 19, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Hi Ellie,

    Thanks for reminding us that writers write, even if only for 15 minutes. We will always have other tasks and activities that require our attention, but we must put writing in a prominent place in our lives.

    What keeps me writing are my self-imposed deadlines and my willingness to forgive myself when I fall short. I’m off to put in my 15 minutes right now.

  • August 19, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    I like what Hersey says above, and I try to do it everyday. Wake up, have coffee/cereal, read a prayer/meditation, and then write for an hour or hour and a half, and then go about the rest of my day (I practice law part-time.) People think I’m prolific because I’ve written 12 novels, 1 memoir, 1 musical and many short stories and 20 columns over the almost 20 years that I’ve practiced this routine, but really, if you write one page a day, every day, at the end of the calendar year, an editor will tell you to cut 50 pages! And, you’ll have the clay to really begin the craft of writing–editing and polishing those 365 pages!

    • August 19, 2014 at 10:20 pm

      Mary, you’re a rock star no matter what you say – that’s a whole lot of EDITED words, my dear! Write on…

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