Recently someone ask me about my writing habit. In the same week I read a blog post on the subject by the talented Michelle Lipton, which sparked some interesting discussion in the comments, so I thought I would pick up the ball and share my thoughts on it.
9 to 5 / mon to fri
I usually write 9 to 5 because I like to keep my evenings free to relax, hang out with the girl, socialise or watch telly. I ease into the day with emails, twitter and my RSS news feed, take care of any housekeeping and then get down to it. I’ve estimated that on a good day I can get 4 to 6 solids hours of writing done. If I know the girl is coming home late or is away I’ll tend to work even later, with some breaks, which can be a great time to write as there just seems to be fewer distractions or demands on your time at night.
I love my notebook
If I’m not churning out pages or editing a script then I’m usually writing in a notebook. One of the best habit-forming things I did was morning pages from The Artist’s Way. I don’t think I completed the entire book but the act of doing pages, getting out ideas, removing blocks, brainstorming, doodling and generally engaging my brain has been invaluable in the development of my writing process.
making the most of a commute
My day job is shift work, which keeps me out of the poor house and also affords me time to write. So whenever I do find time to write I make the most of it. This includes my commute to work. If I can get a seat on the tube then I’ll usually be scribbling in my notebook or marking up my latest draft. For me it proves to be a very effective use of my time and apart from the odd Friday night drunken query from a fellow commuter I find I can usually zone everything else out and focus on the task at hand.
At the moment I tend to focus on one project at a time, partly because I’m somewhat of a completest but also because there’s only so much I can keep in my head. This year I’ve been developing a passion project but have had to put it aside for several other opportunities that have come my way. Slowly I’ve been knocking them off one by one but I can’t wait to get back to what I was originally working on. As I mentioned, I make plenty of notes because there is no worse feeling than losing an idea, so I’m confident I’ll be able to pick up where I left off.
I have a couple of trusted writing buddies, a writers group and sounding boards that I meet up with from time to time to puzzle through story problems, to share work with or just to shoot the breeze. Like most writers I’m content with the isolation of the job but I have to admit sometimes I do go a little stir crazy and need human contact now and again, usually when I start talking to myself on the bus or pounce on my partner for attention the second she walks in the door. That’s when I know it’s time to step away from the keyboard and go outside.
I think creatives of any discipline all have to find their own rhythm and pattern to their work. I agree with the general consensus that it’s a job like any other but when you’re constantly having to create by yourself, as opposed to working in a team, then I think you need to set yourself some parameters. Otherwise you’re just not going to generate your best work and will probably drive yourself crazy in the process. The most important thing I guess is that you create a habit that gets you writing and doesn’t create distractions or excuses for you not to.
This is what works for me. What works for you?