The Perfect Writing Routine

Saturday, April 25, 2020
Back in the long ago times, I think we called it January, I made a single cup of coffee and sipped it while drafting a chapter. I went to yoga. I ran to the library. I’d make another cup of coffee and sip it while I read a chapter. The perfect coffee and work combination.

I now work in an office suite that we call home with a commodities inventory/planner and a mechanical engineering student. One cup of coffee at a time doesn’t cut it for all three of us so we brew in a stainless camp coffee pot that’s optimistically labeled as 16 cups. We each fill our mug of choice and put the rest in a Stanley thermos that will keep the brew hot until evening. The perfect coffee and work combination.

Writing routines are a lot like coffee. The perfect routine depends on you and your situation. That’s why I tell my students, “This is what works for me. You might have to tweak it or even hammer out a new one. But that’s okay. You have to go with what works for you.”

I’m on deadline. Since we’ve been social distancing I finished drafting a 15,000 word book on the Trump impeachment. The audience is teens and tweens. I’ve done a rewrite on that project and now I’m finishing another 15,000 word book for tweens. It is due in a week and is on the coronavirus. I am laying words down every day.

Not up for 15,000 twice over in two months? That’s okay. You have to find what works for you. Set a smaller word goal or try something else altogether.

Sioux is querying far and wide. She has a book ready for a home in print or e-format. If I remember correctly, she said that she’s queried 80 agents.

Not ready to query almost 100 agents? That’s okay. You have to find what works for you. Query a smaller number or try something else altogether.

Some of you may be binging TV, movies, books or podcasts. We’ve watched 11 Star Wars movies and 10 Harry Potter films including the Fantastic Beasts. Next on our list is Bond, James Bond. I could tell you that watching all these movies has given me insight into characterization and story arcs, and it has, but I’m really just spending time with my coffee guzzling family.

The reality is that you need to do what you need to do. Find a routine or a worldview that works for you where you are today.

Will it be the perfect way to do things next week? Possibly not, but that’s okay. You have to find what works for you now. With that in mind, I need to go work on Chapter 7 after I pour myself a cup of coffee.


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 25 books for young readers.  To find out more about her writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.  

Sue is also the instructor for  Research: Prepping to Write Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins  May 4th, 2020) and Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults (next session begins July 6, 2010). 


Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--Thanks for the shout-out. Who knows? Perhaps the perfect agent or publisher will see your post and voila, writing magic will happen.

The way you honor and stick to your routine is admirable--and awesome. (Not awesome as in "incredible" but awesome in that it makes me take pause--awestruck--when I hear how you finish one project and without even a rest stop, you put the pedal to the metal and hurtle off onto the next book.)

Isn't technology a great thing? A thermos that keeps coffee hot all day and into the evening... Wow.

Have you seen the mini-series "Chernobyl"? If not, I would highly recommend it. Great acting, it shared parts of the story that I was certainly unaware of and--most impressive to me--it explained the science of it in a way that I (a non-science person) could understand. Jared Harris stars in it--Richard Harris' son. That's one thing I am grateful for these days. We don't have to listen to some song about leaving the cake out in the rain (MacArthur Park) every other minute. ;)

I would say good luck with your coronavirus book, but you don't need luck. You've got determination and talent...

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Hi Sioux,
Are Stanley Thermos considered "tech"? My Dad used one on the flight line when I was kid. So when I saw this at rummage sale for $15.00 I snatched it up. Brand new. Never used.

Deadlines are high inspirational. When I hit this one, I will be knitting and crocheting and doing some more cleaning out here in my office.


Margo Dill said...

I love the coffee! Yesterday's Friday Speak Out was also about coffee. I am drinking a cup now before we have arts and crafts time here. I wish I could get into a routine. We have a different one each day, but I do usually make us a schedule. Also, we have watched both Fantastic Beast movies and 2 HP movies. Plus we are almost done reading the 4th book. Seems like a popular thing to do during the lockdown.

Cathy C. Hall said...

I like your message, Sue, and I salute you reaching those deadlines. I've watched a gazillion webinars (or moderated them) and I'm on book 7 in The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency.

And I've remembered to get my clothes out of the dryer and run the dishwasher. So I'm feeling pretty good about where I am. :-)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Dan has to work from 8 until 5. He gets one hour for lunch. Because he has a routine, I am forced into one. It has been an adjustment.

I do the laundry. He does the dishes. And we are doing SO MUCH reading. So much. He actually let me recommend a book to him.


Margo Dill said...

I love the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Cathy! I read and listened on audio (from the library) several of those books. I wish I could write that! So good. I haven't ready or listened to many since I had Katie. But I am back into Audible again, so...maybe...

Renee Roberson said...

I love that thermos! We've been relying on the coffee pot for the a.m., and the Keuring if anyone needs extra joe in the afternoon (which is at least three of us). I'm the one who rattles around here more than anyone, because the kids have a schedule, Daniel is usually on conference calls from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Since my schedule fluctuates so much, I have a hard time staying focused with everyone here. But we're making it work. Sounds like you are tackling your deadlines like a pro!

Nicole Pyles said...

Writing routine? What writing routine?

Well, my creative writing has suffered just a tad, but I do some freelance work but I feel like - and I may be wrong - but that operates from a different part of my brain. I can almost always write-on-demand. But write for myself? Not so much.

I am trying to go back and revise different stories. I came across a story yesterday that I wanted to rewrite for a contest ending in May. Revising is probably the easiest for me right now.

I feel like giving myself grace in the moments I feel uninspired helps me in the moments when I DO feel inspired.

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