When I began writing full-time, just over a year ago, my writing routine was simple. I wrote – non-stop, all day every day – sometimes for twelve or fourteen hours straight. For four months the all-consuming story inside me pushed all other tasks and thoughts into a ‘rain check’ file at the back of my mind. I couldn’t think of anything else because my story wouldn’t allow me to – it was determined to force itself out from my conscience and down through the tips of my fingers on to blank sheets of paper.
But you can’t write like that forever. A year on, although my writing routine is less compressed, I still haven’t found the best workable routine for writing and life. Before I start to write, it takes me about 3 hours of faffing about before I can clear my head and focus properly. My daily life task list must be completed – if I know I have to break for something at 4 pm, I am distracted by that fact until then. I absolutely have to be alone - no distractions, no company, zero noise. And once I start writing, I find it very hard to stop if I’m on a roll.
In a nutshell, it takes me hours to focus and then I find it very difficult to switch off. I often find myself writing furiously at 3 am or even later – developing thoughts and ideas that are swirling around the ether of my writing room. I’m unwilling to step away in case I lose where I’m going, or waste a positive creative flow and squander all the good vibrations. I’m so exhausted by the time I get to bed that my head is foggy in the morning and my new day starts later, and my writing even later. Before long, my days are backwards as I am living and writing solely at night-time – at odds with the rest of society.
I seem to be at the mercy of my idiosyncrasies and the fact that my creativity regularly waxes into something worth writing about in the dead of darkness as the whole world sleeps.
So what is the most functional writer’s routine? I’ve read that a lot of writer’s work on a ‘day job’ schedule – but how do they stop the flow of words at a certain time of day? If I’m trying to stick to a sustainable writing routine, how do I control and contain my idiosyncrasies and the timing of those flashing streaks of creative inspiration that often take me into the dead of the night?
What’s the secret?
Image from Life Archives via Feb by Birds