Lesson 8

Establish your writing routine

(Love Actually. Image: Working Title)

Writing is not easy. The act of sitting down at a desk with a keyboard and typing out prose is deceptively simple. I always say that writing is one of those skills that you don’t know you have until you try to do it. Even after ten books, I still feel that uncertainty when I start a new project. This is why you need to give yourself space and time to concentrate on your writing, to ensure you’re giving it your full attention.

Time and space can take many forms, but the idea here is to maximize creativity, and therefore output. I don’t mean this just regarding the word-count but also regarding the quality of the words.

It’s hard to recommend an exact solution, as each writer will be different. What I can suggest is assigning an amount of time to write per day, and finding a place where you won’t be distracted or where you feel inspired to write. You should also clear some space mentally, by either taking care of other jobs beforehand or switching off from the to-do list before you write.

For me, this takes place in my home office – my ‘writing cave’ as I dub it – in the mornings and evenings, with a range of music playing quietly in the background. I assign 2-3 hours a day, which roughly equates to 2-3k words. For you, it may be the half-hour journey to work every morning, with headphones on. It may be a lunch-break, a weekend, or when the kids have gone to bed.

Simply put, whatever time and space works for you is the right thing to do. Use it to maximize your productivity, and you’ll soon find your novel flying out of your fingers.

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