Friday, February 26, 2010

On schedules

Sometimes it's like pulling teeth, trying to make myself sit down and write more of my novel's rough draft. I either get plagued by doubt and insecurity over my writing, or I get sidetracked by e-mail and oh look Banana Repulic has free shipping today so maybe I'd better head over there to see what's on sale...

I like this quote from mystery author Elizabeth George, whose birthday is today:
The only way to succeed at the writing life is to be able to live according to a schedule that accommodates time to write.
Today Writer's Almanac included a detail of her daily writing routine. While obviously this would never work for those of us with full-time non-authorish jobs (or with kids), I like the idea of her dedication to keeping a specific schedule rather than writing "when the mood strikes." She's written a ton of Thomas Lynley mysteries and WA points out that she's considered by many as the greatest living mystery writer.
She writes five days a week when she's working on the first draft, and when she's on subsequent drafts, she writes seven days a week. She always gets up at 6 a.m., she says, feeds the dog and takes vitamins and works out on an Exercycle for 30 minutes while reading a meditation book, then inspirational book, then a novel. And she lifts weights for 35 mintues while watching The Today Show. She meditates for 10 minutes, sits down at her desk, reads great literature for about 15 minutes - something along the lines of Jane Austen - and writes a paragraph or page or two in a journal. And then she begins to work on the novel she's writing. She keeps a plot outline, and every day she writes a minimum of five pages, even if she's on the road for book tours or on vacation.

11 comments:

Jonathon Arntson said...

When I try to force writing, I get so mad, at myself.

Did you draw your amazing banner?!

KLo said...

It's funny, I've tried very hard to incorporate daily writing into my schedule/routine. It just doesn't work for me ... I get into writing "jags" where I fit it in all over the place, but if I try to write when I've made time to, it blocks me for some reason. Weird :)

Anna Claire said...

KLo: I do the EXACT same thing! Although the jags don't seem to hit me nearly as often as I wish they would...

Jonathon: I wish :) I can't draw worth beans. The banner was done by the awesomely talented British artist Kate Sutton, http://www.katesutton.co.uk/#

Tess said...

I can't do too early and I can't do too late (my brain just gets tired) but I do try to block out chunks of time and I call them "Work hours" and I don't answer the door or phone or pleas of whining children. :D

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I used to listen to the Writers' Almanac everyday on my commute. Looks like I better follow you!

lotusgirl said...

I write in spurts. An hour here, 20 minutes there. I need to set me up some "office hours." It's just hard with homeschoolers who have no problem interrupting me. In fact, one gets a lot of pleasure out of distracting me.

Anna Claire said...

Caroline: I feel like I'm always posting something I read in Writer's Almanac's e-mail...they have such great author biographical info! If you don't listen anymore, you should definitely think about signing up for the free daily e-mail. It's one of my favorites.

Tess and lotusgirl: I have a feeling I'd better take advantage of the few childless months I have left! I'm afraid parenthood is going to majorly impact my time (and desire) to sit down and write.

Bevie said...

A routine is too much like work. I'll go for several weeks writing anything from 4-10 thousand words a day. Then it's dry for a while. Then it happens again.

I don't have regular sleep patterns so I write whenever. Early morning. Mid-morning. Afternoons. Evenings. Middle of the night.

When it's clicking, it's clicking. When it's not - forget it.

Samantha Bennett said...

I too get distracted by email, Facebook, something shiny. I definitely don't have a set schedule like this, but maybe Elizabeth will inspire me...

Anjali said...

This was exactly what I needed to hear, and what I wrote a little earlier today about on my blog.

Great post!

Glynis said...

Well I do the same thing as Writer's Almanac...okay, take out the exercise, the meditation and the variety of reading material. Then remove the plot outlining,the journal writing and the five pages a day. I do get up early and write everyday though! LOL