Writing by Lilartsy

On the Regular: Writing Routines & Habits

Hello everybody! I'm trying to do something new in this space. Recognizing that the only way to become better as a writer is to write lots and lots, and one way to improve our online presence is by creating lots and lots of content, I've decided to try my hand at blogging more on the regular, either here or through Breakthrough.

Since Mythopoeia is about stories, I'll keep the content on this blog about stories and the craft therein. The stuff that goes on the other blog will be more about unlocking the secrets of teaching. Anyhow...

Some Other Guidelines
  • I'm giving myself only half an hour per post. 
  • Stream of consciousness style. 
  • Write whatever I want to talk about within the framework of WRITING (at least here).
  • Mix between advice, talking to myself, and a journal. A blog! 

Okay! Moving forward - today's topic is about Writing Routines & Habits.
So this is something I've been thinking about quite a bit as I've gotten older. I made it a goal in 2019 to, well, set tangible goals for my writing which resulted in a lot of completed works! It's a chicken and egg type of deal but basically over the the past two years I would say I've been a little more diligent about establishing a writing routine that has gone part and parcel with the increase in output! Let's hope it continues with these blogs...

My Routine

What I found works for me is doing the same thing over and over again with some variance. I'll usually wake up around 8 AM, make the bed, clean the kitchen and make coffee, and get to work by 9 AM. I work from then until around 1 pm, at which point I'll take a break, grab lunch, and work on other things in the afternoon.  I'll try to get about an hour's worth of exercise at the gym in between and I like to cook so I'll usually spend an hour or two in the kitchen everyday as well. 

In terms of page count, it really depends on what I'm working on. I like setting a page count of 5 pages per day if I'm working on a screenplay of some sort. If it's a comic script, Vince and I will try to bang out at least 10 pages. 

Everything above is hard and loose. That's a typical, platonic ideal type of day. I don't always get to 5 pages. I don't always get to work at 9 AM. I don't always stop at 1 pm. Sometimes I go earlier, many times I go later. But most days than not that's the routine.... or at least what I try to go back to if I'm resetting. 

Location, Location, Location

I'm fortunate enough to have a variety of places that I regularly go to work. First among them is the home office, where I have a two monitor setup. It's great for having a piece of reference media playing while I'm working on something like breaking the story or outlining, but sometimes the extra screen can be a distraction. 

I'll spell maybe one every five days at the home office at either the library or coffee shop. I like going to Jameson Brown in Pasadena or the Pasadena Public Library. Sometimes I'll venture further or someplace else. And if I'm really flagellating myself for lack of production, I'll head to Breakthrough where I have an office as well. That sometimes works, but more often than not I associate that office with fulfillment (shipping you folks comic books) or school stuff. 

In general I think I need to change it up every three months or so with a new location or a field trip or something. I got like the short term rotation, the medium term, and the long term. Sometimes I'll hop on the metro and go exploring just to change things up. 

People Watching

I love doing it. I think it's the heart and soul of every writer, and an excuse to go out! I can go entire weeks sometimes without going anywhere if I'm deeply invested in the home office. I forget to leave and go out but always appreciate it when I remember! 

What I don't like, though, is being in an environment where too many people are working on screenplays. It makes me self conscious and a bit existential if I'm honest. Living in LA, that can be pretty common or hard to avoid. That's why I generally like the East Side - less entertainment types as a whole. 

Turning Into Puddy 

There is a point in every day where I just can't write anymore. It's usually when my mind feels heavy and the words feel labored. At this point I know that whatever I churn out is just going to have to be rethought out the next day anyway, so I should just stop. Note that I said rethought rather than revision - one of the little tricks I employ is allowing myself to write bad if it means laying out the "bones" of a story. If the bones remain but the words change I would classify that as revision. If everything needs to go in favor of something new - structure and idea of scene included - I would say that's a rethought. You can revise. Rethinking for me is pointless because it means I'm tapped for the day. 

Strong Beginnings, Puttering Endings

One of my goals for 2020 is to work on how I end stories. I tend to revise the first 10-15 pages of something quite heavily, but truth be told I've never published something finished yet! Skies of Fire 8 will be a huge milestone in that regard. I think even for unproduced or internal stuff my endings tend to putter into oblivion. It's sort of the slog of getting through the middle acts mixed with the desperation at the end just to finish. 

To counteract that, I'm going to revisit some completed projects but only in the ending acts, focusing solely on making those climactic moments stronger. I'm also going to try to season less with cliffhangers - a lot of my work tends to leave readers desperately wanting for more, but almost to a fault! For new writing samples, I want them to feel a little more complete and less SUDDEN SHOCKING ENDING


Hey, that wasn't so bad! Okay, will try again in two days! Hoping to make this a routine! Till next time! 

​- Ray 
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