A friend has just quit his day job in order to devote full attention to writing. He has a number of interesting questions about writing, and especially about writing routines. Coincidentally, I’ve been reading Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, so this is a subject very much on my mind.

Here is his first question:

What does your typical writing day look like broken down?  I know you mentioned you write first thing in the morning.  Do you wake up and start writing immediately (open eyes at 6:00 am and writing by 6:05 am), or do you take time to have breakfast and shower first?  

Do you write 2 hours, then have breakfast?  Go for a walk halfway through day, etc.  

Every creative (writer, artist, composer) finds, by trial and error, a routine that works best, but here is mine:

I wake, usually around 6:00 am, make myself a mug of coffee and go directly to my computer. I glance at email (I can’t help it), and then begin the writing of the day. I call this my “Cup of Work,” and I hold to it daily, even while travelling.

It’s important for me to be in a private space, but if that’s not possible I wear ear plugs and headphones so as not to be distracted.

At around 8:00 I break to eat, dress, chat with my husband and plan the day. At 9:00, I go back to work, usually until 11:00, when I break to exercise, lunch, read, and attend to the chores of life, including the many non-writing tasks that are a necessary part of a writer’s life (correspondence, research and social media, for example).

I retire early, often around 9:30, and read for pleasure.

And that’s my day: it amounts to about four hours a day devoted to writing. On non-work days, I will at least have my Cup of Work first thing, although it might only be for a half-hour.

As a beginning writer, I used some tricks that might be of help. The day before, I would put notes by my computer, indicating the scene I was heading into. Because I was a mother of two youngsters, I had to rise before they did in order to get a jump on the day. I programmed the coffee pot to start perking so that when my alarm went off, the smell of the coffee lured me out of bed.

There is no single way to be a writer. The most important thing to do is figure out what works for you.” — Alison PickWriting Tips

Next up, the question: “Does it take you some time each day to immerse yourself in your writing?  If so, any tricks to ease into the creative headspace?” Stay tuned …

Doris Lessing

From Doris Lessings acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for Literature:

Writers are often asked: How do you write? With a word processor? An electric typewriter? A quill? Longhand?

But the essential question is: Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write?

For more of Lessing’s acceptance speech: In search of the imaginative space: wise words from Doris Lessing.

Also relevant: An amazing writer at work …  my blog post on the daily routine of power-writer Joyce Carol Oates.

{Illustration at top is from “A Most Delicate Art” at BibliOdyssey.}