Writing Routines

Hi writing students, and thanks to one of you, Ivan, for partly inspiring this post.

We’ve just recorded another episode of our Poetry Pause podcast, and in it we discuss Maya Angelou’s extraordinary writing routine, which you can hear above.

Ivan mentioned that he gets in from his day job, spends ten minutes or so with his little prince of a son, listens to Beethoven or some piano music, and then starts writing. He gets into this state of flow most days.

From my quick research many prolific writers have chosen early morning to write. Famously, novelist Haruki Murakami starts writing at 4.00am for 5 to 6 hours, then he runs 10km, or swims, or both, to go to bed for 9.00a.m. He describes this as ‘a form of mesmerism’ never deviating from the routine during a writing project.

Novelist Barbara Kingsolver describes the school bus as ‘her muse’. She was able to start writing when it took her kids away in the morning and stop writing when it brought them home late afternoon.

Routines force a form of focus. You’re there to deliver some words in allocated time and off you go…but the scattered and flitty quality of social media can train our brains to get addicted to something quite different from this. This useful video is about life changing drawing advice, but it equally applies to writing, I reckon.

If you’ve got any writing routines that work especially well for you, be great to hear about them.

For any of you in Wales, I’m part of team running a Your Writing Voice workshop on Oct 3rd, and be lovely to see you there.

Finally, I loved this link on Bookbub a few weeks ago, on authors with good advice on You Tube. I especially like Chris Fox, who seems to get to the nub of things, without too much fluff.

As we head into autumn, at least in the Uk, may the focus be with you.