My schedule is erratic, I can admit to that. Some mornings look totally different from others and this is largely because the nights can vary just as much, if not more. I work five days out of the week and spend weekends with my other half. I try to fit the gym in, something I always envision to occur a lot more often than it actually does. I write in the mornings if I haven’t overslept and in the evenings if I don’t fall asleep. If I could write in my sleep, it would make life much more productive, but I guess if you making writing the variable, that goes for everyone.
I read when I can: on the bus and/or train ride to work, while waiting in line, or with an audiobook at work during particularly mind-numbing tasks. I prioritize writing over reading, of course, but as one wise old man once said, “if you don’t have time to read, then you don’t have time to write.” Reading is an important part of my daily (read: weekly) life. It reminds me why I do what I do. Without it, I would forget the end goal, and could very well drown in the frustrations that come with the lifestyle.
I have two main modes: new material and editing. Further down, there are two other levels: working on a deadline and working without. When writing something new, there is less of an urgency, and any that is felt is just known as excitement for the story waiting to be uncovered. But like any precious birth, I don’t want to force the process and delivery it prematurely. If I get a few pages down a day, I will be happy. I try not to get too lax, however, as a story can lose its zest if I stray away for too long. I read more during these times, as reading fuels my writing.As I read, I constantly ask myself how the writer achieved a certain affect, or what I would have done differently.
Editing is a different beast. I like to go through my pieces fairly quickly, so that I can account for consistency. I always underestimate how long it will take. For example, four weeks ago I made the goal of editing a 400 page novel down to 300 pages in a week. I am almost finished, but note the time discrepancy. At times, writing like this is less enjoyable. It becomes more of a job, especially when I start to fall behind on the (constantly evolving) goals I set for myself. In a way, though, it is the most rewarding part of the writing process. And I fully realize I might only be saying that because I have yet to experience an acceptance letter for publication.
I write in a variety of places, in a variety of ways. I mostly try to write at my writing desk, but anyone who has tried at anything can tell you that failure is a frequent guest. I write on the couch, the bed, or the kitchen table. At times, when I forget how easily I can fall asleep, I write while laying down….on the couch, the bed, or the kitchen table. I write while riding any sort of transportation, as long as I’m not driving. This past weekend, I wrote in front of a campfire under shooting stars. Two years ago I wrote in the dark on pen and paper. Having stability with my writing environment is important, I think: but like a knowledgeable smoker, I just haven’t gotten there, yet.
I think about my writing a lot. The in-between times of my life–walking, exercising, falling asleep, commuting–I often visit both stories I am working on and stories still without a single word written. While writing, mental energy plays a big part. When writing new scenes or editing old ones, I find that the easier parts do not require a significant amount of energy. For example, if I am editing a scene where all I need to do is cut down my descriptions and check my grammar, I can do this close to bed time, right before I just can’t go on at all. On the contrary, if it is a scene that is in need of serious plot and/or style revamping, I will often call it a night–it would be better to return to it in the morning.
I write Scribophile on Tuesdays/Wednesdays. It’s become an expected part of my life. I usually start them on the train ride home and finish them some time after dinner. The posts help with my own thoughts about and toward writing. I may not notice a habit I need to improve on until I sit down and write tips for someone else. It’s hard to tell someone that they need to write/read every day when you’re not doing it yourself. Like anything else, sometimes I have writer’s block. Like anything else, sometimes the quality doesn’t live up to my capabilities. Like anything else, I continue on.
I dream of one day having a writer’s schedule that doesn’t include having to write in the wee hours of the night, half sleep deprived. In the meantime, I do what I have to. I wrote this today because I know there are as many working styles as there are people. I shared myself with you so that you could share back. Hopefully, we will both learn something to advance in our craft.