My Daily (Writing) Routine

In today’s Journal

* Quote of the Day
* My Daily (Writing) Routine
* Great Questions
* A New Video
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

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Quote of the Day

“The time to prepare for your next expedition is when you have just returned from a successful trip.” Robert Peary

My Daily (Writing) Routine

And an Accidental Deep Dive on Cycling

I get emails sometimes either asking outright about my daily writing routine or hinting at it. So I thought it might be of interest to some of you.

I typically spend up to 14 hours per day (with breaks) in my chair at my two desks. Why? Because writing is what I do.

Yes, I enjoy the freedom of no longer having a day job or children at home. So I go from whatever time I get up until 4 p.m. Of course, there’s a trade-off. I’m too old to have a day job or young children at home.

The Journal

In the early morning and at various brief times during the day, my chair faces my big desk and my business computer.

If I didn’t write the Journal entry the day before (on a Notepad document to be copy/pasted into the Journal later), I write and post a Journal entry. If I wrote it the day before (usual for me) I read over it and make sure it reads the way I want it to. Then I look for items for Of Interest, add those and publish.

So first thing each morning, I publish the Journal. That’s typically the first two to three hours of the day.

I’ve come to understand this isn’t as easy as I apparently make it appear, as evidenced by the lack of similar daily missives on pretty much any topic, much less writing fiction.

It also isn’t as important as I believe it is, as evidenced by the worth others place on receiving it. I understand that. Different strokes.

Writing the Journal is important to me because I see myself as passing along information to other writers who maybe aren’t yet as far along the road as I am. I’ll say it again: I only wish I’d had this kind of resource.

I didn’t. I learned only three things of value from DWS:

  • an awareness of Heinlein’s Rules,
  • that my opinion of my work counts exactly as much (but no more) as the opinion of any other individual reader, and to a lesser degree
  • that the details of setting matter.

Everything else was fluff or window dressing.

But I did learn those three things. So I write fiction, I publish it, and I let the readers decide.

The Importance of Cycling

After I’ve filed the Journal for the day (here at the site, in the Archives, and on Substack), I swivel my chair left to my writing ‘puter, which sits on a little typing table.

I open the current novel (or other writing), scroll back to where I started writing the day before, and read over everything I wrote.

(This is the final cycling pass. I also cycle over each prior writing session before I begin a new one through the day. That’s usually around 1200 to 1500 words.)

As I read each morning what I wrote the day before, I rest my fingers on the keyboard in case the characters need them. They most often do.

I typically add around 100 words per chapter to the previous day’s writing. That’s cycling, and it’s an absolutely essential part of the writing process.

Writing gets the story down in real time as it’s unfolding around me and the characters. The first cycling pass (between writing sessions) enables me and the characters to fine-tune.

And the final cycling pass I do each morning admits into the story anything I missed previously and brings quality to the equation.

It does that most often in the form of brief descriptive narratives (what some call “narrative beats”) or another line of dialogue or a little more (deeper) description of the setting.

As I said, cycling is essential. Even invaluable. It’s the secret to “churning out” a 40,000-word novel in 10 days while maintaining my own high standards of quality.

And yes, if I’m writing a short story or novella, the process is exactly the same. The only difference is that the shorter work doesn’t go on so long. The short story goes just as deep, but it’s about only One Event.

When I finish cycling through everything I wrote yesterday, I’m back in the story and I keep writing. Putting new words on the page.

Writing, and the Rest of the Day

So out of my 14 hour day, I have 11 or 12 hours of wrting time, right?

Uh, no.

Through the day, even as I’m writing or cycling, I glance past my right shoulder occasionally at my business computer, where my email is always on the screen. If I receive a new email or comment, I stop writing, swivel to the right and respond, then go back to my novel.

To me, it’s only polite to respond to someone who cares enough to send an email or comment on a post.

Also as I’m writing (or cycling), if a strong idea for tomorrow’s Journal comes to me, I interrupt the writing for that too. I turn to my business computer, write the Journal entry (as I did this one), then go back to the writing.

Train of Thought

In case you’re wondering, when I respond to emails or comments or write tomorrow’s Journal entry, no, I never lose my “train of thought” in the story.

Because I’m writing what’s actually happening in the story and what the characters are saying and doing in their reaction. So I can never get off track or lost. It’s a wonderful feeling.

See? You really don’t need character sketches and world building and outlines and other safety nets. Writing into the dark is its own safety net.

You can’t get lost because you aren’t making anything up. You aren’t thinking your way through what will eventually be a fake story. Instead, you’re only running through the story with the characters, doing your best to keep up.

The rest of my day is the same. Writing, responding to emails and comments, taking the occasional break (maybe as long as a half-hour here and there, or an hour and a half trip to the store, etc.) and more writing.

More putting new words on the page. More practice.

Because that’s the only way you can become prolific, and that’s the only way you learn to tell enticing stories that grab the reader and hold on until the end.

Great Questions

I got a couple of great questions in a comment from Sylvia A.

To read the questions and my response, click here.

A New Video

As kind of a test, I took Sylvia’s questions from her comment and recorded a short video on the topic. Then I uploaded it to YouTube.

You can see the video here.

Stop by and take a look. If you find the video of use or entertaining or whatever, please leave a comment. There are a lot of subscribers to my YouTube channel. As of this writing, there is one coment.

The vid is only about 10 minutes, but it took over an hour to upload. So maybe I’ll end up going back to infrequent live streams. Or not. Shrug. I dunno.

If you’d like to be automatically notified of other vids in the future, subscribe to my channel. Like I said a few days ago, I enjoy playing with YouTube, so there’s no telling where that will lead or what might happen.

I’ll talk with you again soon.

Oh, if you’d like a treat in four-part harmony, check out this Statler Brothers Farewell Concert. It and then a Ryman Country Homecoming session short-circuited my writing yesterday. That doesn’t happen often, but at least it was fun.

Of Interest

These are getting harder to find so they are a time-suck. I no longer check Kill Zone blog because it’s generally a “me too” cheering squad for one writer and a dogpile on any dissent. There is occasionally something of value at DWS’s site or at The Passive Voice, but those have gone primarily to full-time promotion and All-AI-All-the-Time respectively. And you can check those sites yourself.

Character Type & Trope Thesaurus: Psychopath

It’s Time For a New Science of Death Extremely interesting

Confessions of a Moll: A Boston Gangster’s Long-Time Girlfriend Speaks

Writer? Take a look at this 1940s Chicago video It’s only about 6 minutes long. Want an exercise? Stop the video now and then and describe the setting.

Stephen King reads from You Like It Darker Mark your calendars. He’s reading from a new short story collection.

The Numbers

The Journal……………………………… 910

Writing of Blackwell Ops 23: Buck Jackson

Day 1…… 1217 words. To date…… 1217
Day 2…… 2154 words. To date…… 3371
Day 3…… 5757 words. To date…… 9128
Day 4…… 5433 words. To date…… 14561
Day 5…… 2248 words. To date…… 16809

Fiction for April…………………….….… 16809
Fiction for 2024…………………………. 242601
Fiction since October 1………………… 545657
Nonfiction for April……………………… 5980
Nonfiction for 2024……………………… 134700
2024 consumable words……………… 377301

2024 Novels to Date……………………… 6
2024 Novellas to Date…………………… 0
2024 Short Stories to Date……………… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)……………… 88
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)…………… 9
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……… 239
Short story collections…………………… 29

Disclaimer: I am a prolific professional fiction writer. On this blog I teach Writing Into the Dark and adherence to Heinlein’s Rules. Unreasoning fear and the myths of writing will slow your progress as a writer or stop you cold. I will never teach the myths on this blog.

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7 thoughts on “My Daily (Writing) Routine”

  1. Hello!
    Train of thought – I need to focus on this. Sometimes I walk into the trap that “I need to feel the story” or “I need to be in the mood” of the story before I sit down to write. Sometimes I just forgot that’s not my story, but my character’s story. I just need to cycle back and write the next word. The next sentence. And the next… The characters will keep telling me their story until I listen to them and I follow them.
    And the differences between writers. I have a day job and I have other obligations so I don’t have many time to write. But to be sincere this is not the matter. When I have the time I write only a little – if any – because of reasons. To be prolific is not about having time to write, it is about write when you have the chance.
    My daily goal is 1000 words. Most of the time I don’t reach it. So, I changed that a little, and said I have a 7,000 words weekly goal. If it is not possible to write each and every day, why am I trying to reach a goal I am unable to reach?
    I am practicing Heinlein’s rules, sometimes I fall… But I always get up since writing is important.
    So I think my three main learnt thing is:
    Heinlein’s rules
    That the writing is important not what you write
    and the mentality to get up each time you fall behind.

  2. So, perhaps a hybridization:

    4 fun/important writing points in the process.

    1- Follow the details of character experiences.
    2- Write them down precisely, cycle as necessary. (One good draft).
    3- One reader’s opinion is just one opinion.
    4- Submit/publish to market. Repeat process with next new story….

    It truly all was revealed by Heinlein way back, but the culture of myth is so pernicious. It takes practice.

    To compare the 4 rules:

    Follow the details of character experiences.
    (You must write.)
    Write them down precisely, cycle as needed.
    (Finish what you write… via cycling.)
    One reader’s opinion is just one opinion.
    (Do not edit, unless you agree with first reader fixes.)
    Publish to market.
    (Put it on the market, keep it there.)


    • Yes sir, nailed it in one. If you follow that formula and keep writing (putting new words on the page) and study the craft now and then (setting, cliffhangers and hooks, etc.) to keep your creative subconscious fed, you will go far. And a lot more quickly than you think.

    • Plus, the first reader’s input will only be misspellings or wrong words, inconsistencies, things like that.

      • Yep. If your first reader starts trying to tell you how you should have or s/he would have written anything about it, quote Lee Child: “But that’s not what happened.” 🙂

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