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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

writing routine

I've been following the Daily Routines blog and reading about the habits of people like Barack Obama, Stephen King, Immanuel Kant and Ingmar Bergman.

Instead of the routine of a successful writer, here's the routine of someone who might end up becoming a full time writer if he's really lucky but will likely remain primarily a technology worker. But why would someone want to read about probable failure when they should be trying to learn about and mimic success? Let it serve as a warning.
I don't write every day but when I do write I stumble out of bed around 8:30 or so when I hear Sarah close the door on her way to work. I don't take a shower or eat anything and I usually just put on the clothes I wore yesterday or whatever is lying on the floor next to the bed. I slip on $8 Walmart shoes I bought years ago and throw on my yellow Fat Tire baseball cap. If it's cold I put on my stocking cap instead. I grab my pen, keys and wallet off the coffee table and put them into my pockets. If I'm lucky I remember to bring my notebook before I'm physically outside the apartment. I then head out the door and walk down the block to the coffee shop. I find my way groggily to the counter and mumble something to the barista that she recognizes as an order for a regular 12 oz cup of coffee to stay. I remove the coffee from the counter, sit down at a small table by the window and begin to wake my mind by reading the nonsense I wrote on previous days.

About 10 to 15 minutes later I actually start writing. I start by thinking about how I want to work on microhistorical fiction or the sci-fi novel but by then I'm already thinking about philosophy so I write just to get it out of my head. I keep thinking about or writing philosophy until I finish that first cup.

I go up to the counter and get a 50 cent refill while internally rededicating myself to writing fiction or sci-fi. I sit back down and start to write in earnest. When I really get into writing I don't drink the coffee as fast but I always start getting hungry and shaky somewhere in the middle of the second cup. I keep working in spite of the shakes. Sometimes I start getting anxious and just down that second cup of coffee and head home. I generally get back sometime between eleven and eleven forty-five. Depending on the day the second session ends up being wasted thinking and writing philosophy as well. Today I was lucky and actually got four journal pages solely devoted to the sci-fi novel.


Mary Fagan said...

Cool! This is the first time my routine Google Search has thrown me your blog. I've given up having a set writing routine. I'm writing this from a car dealership, of all things. Have laptop will write. Happily, this place in the boonies south of Houston just got WiFi. So while my RAV4 gets its 30,000 I finished proofing the text block of my second novel. And may even get back to my scifi. Enjoyed reading your account. I love knowing how other writers work.

Mike said...

Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

It is difficult to sit down with the intention of writing a specific thing. It's good that you allow yourself to write through the Philosophy stuff even though that is not your end goal.

For a while, I tried to write at a certain time of day or for a certain amount of time. I have traded that for writing consistently and trying to write three pages. Usually, most of the three pages is junk, but it seems like you have to do that in order to get to the good stuff. In the course of filling notebooks with random musings, I have been coming up with more good material on a regular basis. So, I would say it is better to write often, even if you are not feeling inspired. It definitely amounts to more than you would get waiting for the muse.