The Best Writing Routine Tips of 2019
Written by
She Writes
November 2019
Written by
She Writes
November 2019

Throughout 2019 we've sat down with some of the savviest and most influential authors we respect and jumped at the opportunity to pick their brains about their writing routines. 

Just like the diversity of their writing, the methods they use to get the job done varies widely. What works for one, may work for you, so read on for some of the best writerly wisdom they shared this year!

Give Yourself a Creativity Jolt

“[I] wake up, put my phone on airplane mode, make coffee, appease Teddy The Cat... do some freewriting for 5 minutes on any writing prompt that strikes my fancy (usually Magical Realism Bot on Twitter supplies enough imagination snacks) and then dive back into what I'm working on.”

 - Roshani Chokshi

Find Balance

"I usually wait for inspiration to strike. Once it does, I try to write the first draft of an entire chapter or story or whatever I’m working on. I also drink chai constantly to keep up my energy and, for breaks, I step into the kitchen because I find cooking relaxing."

- Soniah Kamal

Embrace Peer Support

“Find writer friends at the same stage of the publication journey as you, and exchange work with them. My work improved so much by both giving and receiving thoughtful critique. Plus, writing can be very solitary, and it’s nice to have friends.”

“Publishing a book is hard at any age, but it’s also possible at any age,” she continues. “You’re never too young, or too old, to pursue the dream of being an author.”

 - Karen M. McManus

Keep Writing and Do the Work

“It can be difficult to stay motivated when you’re working through a first draft, but it’s good training for the difficulties that inevitably come up with pursuing both traditional and self-publishing.”

“There is a point in your career when you’re going to struggle to find a publisher, get your book in front of readers, make the sales that you think you should be making. Persevering with your writing practice is going to help you build the resilience you’ll need throughout your publishing journey.”

 - Julia Kelly

Create Time to Write

“Writing was a luxury I gave myself for years while I had a business and clients and deadlines.  I took writing workshops at night after a long train ride home but was often rejuvenated. Sometimes, I wrote late at night when the house was mouse-quiet with few interruptions. During the work day, I’d write in a park or diner.”

 - Sande Boritz Berger

If a Routine Isn’t for You, Don’t Sweat It

“I’m great with routines for some things, like exercise and feeding the cats and watering the plants, but I’ve never been able to have a writing schedule or a writing ‘place.’ Nevertheless, I think I’m very alert to ideas and inspiration and the need to just sit down for a while and put things on the page. I find that writing is an indispensable part of my life, but one that I can’t schedule.”

 - Diane Wald

Pick Up a Pen

“I begin every story by writing in longhand. Even when I’m considering a problem that isn’t related to writing, I think better with a pen in my hand.  At some point, I go to my computer and transcribe those very rough ideas to a printed copy. I always edit from a printed page.  And then I revise, revise, revise.”

 - Barbara Hoffbeck

Start with Fresh Eyes

“I begin each morning editing what I wrote the day before. When I’m satisfied, I start the next chapter of a novel or an essay, depending on what I’m working on. I love writing scenes but it’s in the editing where I add most of the details. That’s when I hone my writing skills and derive the most enjoyment out of my work.”

 - Sondra Helene

Set the Scene 

“I like thick socks and a warm hat and I always light the same candle in hopes that the scent will condition me into working when it’s lit. I surround myself with my ‘companion books,’ that is, those I turn to for craft, words, purpose, daring, and form. I like a lava lamp because it doubles as a metronome with its rise and fall. I bang out first drafts on my electric Smith Corona typewriter because it forces a transcription on the computer, which means an immediate second draft.”

 - T. Kira Madden

Devour Language

“While I make tea in the morning, I read a poem so that the first thing that goes into my brain is positive and so that I remember there’s another world beside the ‘factual’ one.  Then I read everything I can lay my hands on; Instagram feeds, newspapers on line and off, blogs, magazine articles, and obituaries, when ideas pop into my head, whether or not they have anything to do with the reading.” 

 - Diane Dewey

Hold Out Until You Find the One

“I’m like that person who has to date around a little before she’s ready to commit. I spend a lot of time (arguably too much) bouncing ideas around before I really feel comfortable choosing a concept for a book. Once I feel a book in my gut, though, I’m all in. I throw myself into it, trying to write every single day, and never skipping two days in a row.”

 - Alafair Burke

Always Be Ready for Inspiration

“I don’t write outlines but I keep pads of paper all over my house and in my car and constantly jot down ideas as they pop into my head. Even when jogging or showering, I’m never far from my notebooks. I have some pretty soggy notes to prove it! When I write essays, I have a bad habit of needing to nail down the first sentence before I can continue with the piece.”

 - Lisa Tognola

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  • Carolyn Niethammer

    Regarding always having the first sentence of a essay first, my journalism teacher always said that main idea expressed in your first line was like a clothesline. And every subsequent paragraph and sentence should hang (relate) on it. This idea has served me well for 50 years.