Writing Habits

» Posted on Mar 14, 2007 in Blog | 4 comments

My writing routine varies depending on if I’m teaching or not. During the school year I come home from work and write each afternoon and into the early evening. I try to do this every day. On the weekend I write throughout the day. I don’t set up how many pages I need to get done. I think that would be confining. I just write. Sometimes I get one or two pages done. Sometimes five or six. Anything over five pages is a good day for me.

During the summer I write throughout the day–seven days a week unless I’m committed to something else. I can work on two projects during the summer while during the school year I find it hard to work on more than one project because my time is limited.

When I write my first draft, I often go back and polish the last few pages I’ve written. That also gets me back into my story. At the end of the chapter I go through it one more time, then move on to the next chapter. So when I’m through with the first draft, I’ve gone through it several times. I usually don’t have a lot of work after that other than what I call tinkering. I make sure everything flows and makes sense, that I don’t overuse a word or phrase. I usually add each time I go into a story. I don’t cut much. That doesn’t mean I don’t throw out pages. I do. It’s just not the norm for me.

When I write at the beginning of a story, I prefer not to have a firm outline in mind at the start. I know where my story is going and I know my characters. I like to see the story unfold at the beginning. Because I submit proposals, I do have to write a detailed outline to send with my first three chapters. Even when I write off an outline, I find I change things about my plot as I get into a story. I like to listen to my characters as I write.

The most important part of my routine over the years is persistence. I don’t like to be away from writing for too long. It is hard to get back into a routine when you do take a long break. I have even been known to work on my vacation. I’ve sat on a beach and written many a chapters. Thankfully I have a great husband who is supportive and understanding of my work habits.

What are your writing habits?


  1. I love hearing about the habits of other writers–it’s motivating.

    I wish I had a habit, or a set time, LOL! Between a husband, a teen, and two tots I write when I have a free hand–mind you, sometimes I only need one! By piecing bits of time together I usually get in a good two hours a day, five days a week, and sometimes three hours on Saturday. The words add up eventually.

    BTW, I think it’s neat that you’re mostly done after the first draft!

  2. It’s so fun to see inside a writer’s life-great post!

    My habits: Start about an hour after I wake up and write off and on all day long and when my husband is away, often into the afternoon. Again, when he’s away, I work on Saturdays, though not as diligently-I love to do research on the weekends.

    I edit at the end, 3x through at the end. I feel too mentally fatigued if I try to edit on a daily basis…I need all my brain matter for the actual writing!

  3. Margaret – I think you are an inspiration with your work habits!

    Right now I am trying to find my habit. I work 8-10 hours a day at an outside job and sometimes I find it hard to just “turn on” the writer when I come home. I try to write for 1-2 hours a night but sometimes it is more like 1/2 hour. I try to get something done every day, even on the weekend.
    I’m hoping work will slow down soon and I can devote more time to writing.

  4. I love seeing others good habits – it’s such a kick in the pants!

    Sometimes I feel like I must be the words worst mommy because I know that in only 5 months, my last preschooler will be in school and I can write during the day without feeling like I’m neglecting him. *g*

    I’ve been trying to find a routine again. My work schedule changed and that took away my scheduled ‘no kid’ time for writing for now. I try to cram in two hours a day, 4-5 days a week.

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