I’m in the midst of writing a fantasy novel. Here is my daily writing routine:
Avoid writing for several hours.
Decide I need to face the music and write today if I want to be able to live with myself.
Brew some coffee.
Go on YouTube while coffee is brewing.
Pour a cup of coffee.
Drink first cup while watching YouTube for another twenty minutes.
Get second cup of coffee because I can’t write without something to drink.
Light a scented candle to set the mood.
Open the manuscript file.
Think vaguely about what I need to write.
Panic as I realize I have no idea where the story needs to go.
Google something tangentially related to what I’m writing, or just something totally random that’s on my mind.
Spend a half hour looking at random articles online.
Tell myself I need to start writing.
Google “writing advice” or “writing inspiration” or “writers who struggled to write” or “writers who took several years to finish a manuscript but still were successful” or “writers who wrote an awful first draft but it turned out to be OK.”
Look at just one more YouTube video before I start—it’s a video of a successful writer, though (David Foster Wallace or Donna Tartt, etc.), so it’s meant to be a kick in the pants to get me going.
Thirty minutes later, get another cup of coffee. It’s not very fresh by now, so put some water in it to cut the bitterness.
Force myself to close the internet browser.
Look at my current word count and add 500 to set my target word count for the day. My target is actually 600 words daily, but for some reason 500 words is much less intimidating, so I always just mark 500 words as my goal even though I’m technically aiming for 600. It’s a mental trick.
Open up the internet browser again.
One last YouTube video. Tell myself it’s character research.
Get a glass of water to go with the coffee.
One last YouTube video.
OK, no more dragging my feet.
Put on music to set the mood.
Top off the coffee cup.
Read what I wrote yesterday, make a few changes. This is good for adding maybe 20 words but will often do the opposite and I’ll cut hundreds. If I’m feeling unmotivated I will reset my word count after cutting. More often I force myself to make up the difference.
Start writing new stuff.
After about 50 words, top off coffee again.
Another 100 words or so, take a bathroom break.
Fight the urge to watch another YouTube video.
Occasional research breaks where I Google stuff about the Middle Ages (because even though it’s a made up fantasy world I still want to be historically accurate I guess?).
Around 250 painfully slow words in, check my word count because I’m convinced I’ve hit 600 by now.
Slog through another 20 words.
Get absolutely stuck.
Consider giving up for today and hoping that tomorrow I will be a better writer somehow and be able to break through the block.
Doodle around on the guitar for a minute.
Tell myself to suck it up and just type until I hit the mother loving word count.
Agonize over what should happen next in the story.
Tell myself to just write something because I’ve been sitting here writing nothing for twenty minutes thinking about something relatively inconsequential to the story.
Wonder if I’ve just written myself into a corner and if I need to delete the last week’s worth of writing.
Decide I’ll just plow through and future me can fix it in a year or two whenever this first draft is actually completed.
Realize the stuff I’m writing now probably contradicts things I wrote months ago in the manuscript.
Think about how future me is really going to hate present me when editing begins.
Check my word count and realize I’m only a hundred words away from 500.
Skip the song that’s playing because it’s ruining the mood.
Actually take pleasure in what I’m writing.
Look up and realize I’ve written 800 words.
Go a little bit further.
Decide I don’t want to burn myself out, even though I could keep going.
Hit save, close document.