Monday 8 March 2021

How My Writing Routine Changes - The Creative Process


I wanted to talk about this today because I've noticed that there is a lot of talk about writing routines, but not that much about how it can and will change as you move through your writing career. While there will be some staples that go from change to change, there will always be some parts of it that switch around as you settle into whatever stage of the process you're at.

Rather than give vague ideas about how it can change, I thought that I would give you some idea how mine has changed over the years. Some quick background first, I started writing seriously when I was 19, I'm now 39, so you can do the maths there. I had been retired from the working world because of my health, and since then my health has been on a steady decline to where I'm at now. I don't work another job, and I don't think I'd be able to if the need arose, but that's just to give you some idea of the flexibility I have when it comes to my writing, and also the fact that bar a few other things, I don't really have much weighing me down for time.

So let's start at the beginning.

AGES 19-21
Even though I was writing seriously, I was planning to go the traditional route simply because the internet wasn't as big as it is now, there was no social media, there was no self-publishing beyond going through a vanity press or the like. So to my mind, I only had one choice and that was to write, revise and submit to an agent, and even then it wasn't set up the way it is now.

So as far as my writing routine went it was pretty simple. I would get up at whatever time I woke, since I was in the beginning of my life as a disabled person unable to work, I didn't have a routine of any kind really, and I could stay up late and sleep in. There was not much pressing on my time. I would get up, write a chapter by hand, and then spend the remainder of the day typing it up.

Sometimes I'd write several days in a row, but usually it was an as and when the mood hit, and my health allowed. These were the days when I wasn't really sure how to go about getting the agent, and the publishing contract and all of that. I didn't feel the need to write every day because I wasn't always well enough and I would go through massive chunks of time when I didn't write at all.

AGES 21-30

My début was published in 2005, and I was over the moon, but several things happened during this time that had an effect on my writing routine. My godchild was born, B, my best friend, carer, and said child's mother, was living with me in a one-bedroom flat because my care needs had massively increased, and I went back to uni to get my degree. We also moved into the house we live in now, and that's really when I started to get organised and set up a routine on its own.

It's hard looking back to see how much time I didn't spend writing, or working on my craft. I had beta readers, I did edits and revisions, but I didn't really move forward, and because of that my routine was simple. I would write in stages. Some days it'd been every day, other days it would be when I could squeeze time in. And while doing the majority of my degree, I didn't have the energy to also do writing and so it kinda got tossed to the wayside.

For a while, I would go to a friend's flat and do all my week's writing crammed into one day, we're talking the 10K words and then I would take the rest of the week off. This was simply because two adults and a toddler in a tiny flat was no conducive to a good writing session. It was a case of grabbing my laptop and doing what I needed elsewhere.

It was also during this time that KDP became a thing and I could self-publish seriously. That was the big changer for me. I went from never knowing if my books would be out in the wild to being able to set up publishing plans and actually make something from this. I threw myself into writing and setting a routine, but life kept getting in the way.

AGES 31-36

I was publishing at least one book a year, and I was writing in a lot more of a routine. I went from writing sporadically to having an organised plan for every month. It was during this time that I was able to really start to plan my career and everything that went with it. I had an editing team, deadlines, covers and all of that, and I had paperbacks, something I didn't think would be possible for me.

My writing routine was a lot more rigid at this point. I would write in the afternoon, having spent the morning chatting with a friend, and would then flip between more conversation and writing my chapter. It was also around this time that I started to track how much I wrote and when, and looking back now, I can see that it took me a good year or two to really get into the groove.

Health wise, I was starting to need the oxygen full time, I was starting to be more housebound than before and was a full-time wheelchair user. This was really when things like writing in bed on my tablet became a big part of my routine. If I couldn't sit for long enough, then setting up in bed was an option. I didn't yet use a planner but I did use Sticky Notes to plan my time, and because of that while my routine was strict, I always left room for places to catch up and the like.

AGES 37-39
This brings us up to present day. I write now first thing in the morning, I wake up without an alarm around 4/5am and will then go through my morning stuff, whether that's a chapter to write, edits and revisions to do, or a video to record and the like. I didn't plan to go back to being an early riser (I always was as a child) but that seems to have been how it's worked out for now. My writing routine is usually at my desk, but from time to time I will write in bed.

I've also gone, over the years, from hand writing, to typing on my computer/laptop, to now typing mostly on my tablet. I like the ease of movement and I like that it's easier for me to switch between keyboards and the like.

So there we have it, over twenty odd years, my writing routine has changed so much, and yours will too. It might be that you find yourself preferring coffee shops, and even in these trying times, you feel like you can't write as well at home or the like. But I guarantee that as things in your life change, so will your routine. I used mine as an example because a lot of people say they admire my work ethic and the way I'm so organised, and I just wanted to give you a look at how that came about.

It's taken me twenty years to get to this point, and I'm sure in another twenty, life will be even more different when it comes to my writing process.

Any questions? Lemme know in the comments below!

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