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How many hours a day should I write?



Pauline RowsonI'm often asked if I have a writing routine, do I write every day? Do I count the number of words I write? Is there some kind of ritual that I follow? How do writers write? Is there a formula or a magic method of writing for success?

Well there are writers who write the same time every day come what may; others who will write a certain number of words each day and when they've done their quota, they'll knock off. Others that can only write while drinking a cup of tea, or coffee, wine or whisky.

And me? Do I follow the routines of famous writers? I don't know the answer to the latter because I've never studied them. Finding your own routine and rhythm of writing is important. What suits one person will not suit another and of course it depends on whether you also have a day job (or a night one come to that) or a family to care for. Time is the critical element but if you really want to write that novel, short story or non fiction book you need to make the time and have the commitment , passion and motivation to continue with it.

When I was running my marketing business I could only write at the weekends so Saturday and Sunday afternoons became my writing time. However, during the week if I was at a loose end waiting for clients or stuck in a traffic jam I would jot down notes or record ideas, thoughts and character descriptions into my Dictaphone.

Now as a full time writer I have no real set routine but I do like to write every day, speaking engagements permitting.

Usually I write every evening between 5pm and 7.30pm. I also write Saturday and Sunday mornings and often in the afternoons depending on my commitments. Occasionally, during the week, when not out walking, I'll snatch an hour in the morning.

Some days when the words flow or I am at a critical stage of writing - usually at the end of the first draft of a novel - I am keen to crack on and write as much as I can. This can result in me spending all day at my computer. Not good for me, but I do get up occasionally and walk around, or pick up my knitting and think through my plots..


Other days I will struggle to find the correct words and the creative flow will trickle to a halt. If the latter happens I usually again pick up my knitting, do some sewing or go for a walk while my mind works away at the snag with the plot or with a character.

Pauline Rowson on research for DI Andy Horton DEAD PASSAGEWriting a novel also involves research and because my crime novels are set in the area in which I live I do a lot of research on location, walking Inspector Andy Horton's patch, which is Portsmouth, the Solent and the Isle of Wight. (Alright so I can't walk on water but I can traverse the Solent by boat). I also travel to the locations used in the Art Marvik marine thrillers and my Inspector Ryga 1950s set mysteries, Dorset and East Sussex.

But writing isn't only about pounding away at a keyboard, writers also spend a great deal of time staring into space - thinking! (That's where the knitting comes in handy, I can knit and think at the same time). My mind is constantly working, thinking through the plots or sub plots and developing characters. Time will also be spent mapping out the plot lines and developing and researching the background of my characters, their personalities and motivations.

It is much easier to write every day as you don't have to spend time catching up after leaving the writing project for some days but that's not always possible.

You need to make time to dedicate yourself to the activity whether that be plot outlining, drawing up characters, research or creating the story and then revising it and shaping it.



If word counting or setting your watch to time yourself writing works for you then great. If getting up at five in the morning or writing at mid night suits you best then fine. There is no magic prescription for what is the best routine for writing and getting results, only trial and error, your own individual circumstances and your commitment and passion for it. Good luck.

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POSTED BY: PAULINE ROWSON
MAY 22ND, 2020 @ 6:32:07 BST
 
 


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