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Writing Up a Storm

Do you have a writing routine?

Mine is fairly simple. It is generally first thing upon awakening, usually around 4 am, when it is dark and quiet. I have a cup of coffee ready (the percolator is on a timer), and my desk is cleaned up. I have to do that the night before. The only thing I usually have on the desk is an outline of what I want to write about (and it is meticulously detailed).

I also conjure up a rainstorm if it is not raining.

Your own personal rainstorm. Source:

Your own personal rainstorm. Source:

I write better with the rain coming down. I find it relaxing, the sound of the water coming down soothing, inspiring.

The outline is soothing, too. It gives me a sense of direction. If I can see the structure in place, it makes me relax, and I can have fun with the writing.

I don’t have a page goal, but I try to write for no more than an hour or 90 minutes at one sitting. I do not allow myself to look at Facebook or check email during this period. I’ve learned that any longer and I’ll start checking my email, or looking at the news; once I get distracted, unfortunately, it is hard for me to get back into a writing groove. Also, after about 90 minutes, I have to stop anyway, because that’s when I have to get children up for school, make lunches, and so forth.

Once I’m done writing for the hour, I set it aside. I don’t look at it for the rest of the day. If I’m on a deadline, that’s different; I’ll schedule review and rewrite times later in the day. But with a long-term project like Emmett’s story, I really don’t want to do a review of a chapter or major section until I have it written down. Even it if is a suck-ass first draft, I want to get that entire draft down.

If I start editing an incomplete draft-in-the works, I’ve found that I will never finish it. It just perpetuates unfinished work and frustration.

I write every single day. On occasion, I will take a day off, but as I think about this book all the time, I like to keep a traditional notebook with me, to jot down ideas or impressions as they come to me.

This is the writing routine that has worked for me so far.

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Communication, Arts, and the Humanities
The University of Maryland Global Campus

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