I was browsing the aggregated posts over at Indie Horror and found this one by Glynn James. He answers the question of how he manages to write when he has many responsibilities, including a job and a family. His response boils down to two main points :
- Make writing a daily habit. Every day. Birthday included.
- Don’t leave the well dry; stop at a point in the narrative that will make it easier to get back into the story next time you write.
I confess I do not have, nor have I ever had, a daily writing habit. The most I’ve gotten up to is a six-out-of-seven-days and I did not sustain that pace long. If I don’t skip more than a day between sessions and I obey Glynn’s second point, not writing daily slows me down but doesn’t derail me.
What matters to me is that when I do write, the routine is consistent. Same place, same time, same amount of interaction from the other living beings in my house. When I wrote my first novel, I dedicated from 5 until 7 in the morning to the effort. I have a laptop, but I always sat at my desk. In the winter, the sun did not even begin to come up during those two hours; indeed, I often saw the moon set.
I wrote in the morning for two reasons. First, writing in the morning guaranteed that I had no excuses and no conflicts to prevent me from getting words on the page. The rest of the day was for the world, but those two hours were for my craft. I held sacrosanct my pre-dawn writing sessions. By remaining steadfast, I made the statement that I respected the act of creation and the Muse that chose me. My second reason for writing in the morning was that it helped me avoid my inner critic. My self-doubt is an indolent creature; she takes a full two cups of coffee and a complete sunrise before she even considers tormenting me. Most mornings, I could get in a couple hours of work and wrap up for the day before I even got the teeniest niggling of disquiet.
It was good to have a routine, but even better to know that I wasn’t going to get that horrible, panicky sense of being stuck the next time I sat down to write. Like Glynn, I made a conscious decision to stop before I got to the end of what I ‘knew.’ In addition to making it easier to regain the right frame of mind in the next session, waiting also built excitement. As an author, dedication is a must, but dedication is easier when you just can’t wait to finish what you started. Who doesn’t like feeling excited when they sit down to write?