I read a lot. I listen to a lot of podcasts. I watch a lot of videos. I’m like many other fledgeling authors out there – looking to glean knowledge wherever it may be taken. Mostly through author interviews.
Now, I don’t keep detailed records that I can mine for data, but I’d say about 70 or 80 percent of the authors either state expressly that they do their best work when they’re working to a routine or imply the same when talking through their process.
Routine is the key to their success.
Get up at 5 and write for 2 hours before the rest of the house gets up. Or see the kids off to school and write from 8 to 1. Get your coffee at the local coffee shop, and sit there for an hour, working with the background sounds of the cafe. Or take the dog on a walk every day and dictate while doing so.
Every author does things differently, but they have their routine that works for them. And because of it, they get to be semi-normal human beings while still cranking out pages like some sort of demi-god.
The problem that I have, and I feel sure that I can’t be the only one, is this:
I’ll set up a routine – say getting up at 5.30 every morning and writing until 6.30 (which is when Mr Sage gets up and the house erupts in chaos) – and it’ll work for a while.
Obviously, any routine, any habit, is a struggle to get into at first until you get to a point where it’s auto-pilot all the way, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.
I’m also not talking about those days where the universe interferes, when the dogs have decided to become agents of dischord who won’t leave you or each other alone for 2 seconds together, or you have to rush off early because your normal route to work is being closed due to protest actions and you have to take the long way around, or there’s some other sort of emergent situation.
That’s not a problem with the routine, that’s just life.
What I am talking about is that for the first week or two of my new routine, I’ll smash out absolutely brilliant word counts. I’ll manage hundreds of words, maybe even break the 1k mark. Then the word counts slow a little. Less of the 1k+ more of the 500-ish. Usually it picks up again for a couple of days. And then, usually around 6 to 8 weeks into the new routine, everything goes to hell. I’m doing all the same things I usually do, but my word counts stall. Maybe I get 100 words. Maybe I get 40.
Side note: I’m not disparaging people who write 40 or 100 or 500 words a day, but those word counts frustrate me when I know that I, personally, am capable of 1k+.
So then I switch things up. Small things. Miniscule things. Things not even related to the actual act of writing. I let the dogs out before I go to the loo instead of after. Start the computer before I go to pour my juice or water (or colddrink – most of the time it’s colddrink). Get dressed before I sit down to write instead of writing in my lovely, warm, fluffy dressing gown. And it picks up again, but the 1k mark remains elusive.
I make more changes.
But I never seem able to break the 1k mark again after the first (or second, if I’m lucky) week of a new routine.