Friday, March 12, 2010

How I Write

Every week, TimeOut London used to run a column called How I Write. And every week I'd eagerly turn to it, glad for a glimpse into a published writer's inner world. Each author had a different method of writing -- a unique ritual that worked for them -- and I was fascinated. AL Kennedy recently posted a piece in The Guardian giving an insight into her writing process, and that made me think about mine.

I work best in the morning, after my shot of caffeine gets pumping through my veins. I'm up at around 7 am, grinding my espresso and reading my email, then at my desk between 8 and 8:30 am. I pump out my words in the morning, have a think about where I want my plot to go in the afternoon, and spend the evening indulging my other addiction: telly (there, I said it. I love the telly. Yes I do!).

It's a simplistic formula, but it's taken me a little bit of experimentation to find out what works.

How do you write?


  1. I write best when my kids are in bed or someone is watching them. I need to have my time uninterrupted which is rare. Chocolate and my inspirational music helps too.

  2. My job takes up a huge about of time - I'm a bit obsessive about it :) So I pretty much write when I can - no routine at all!

  3. Like Jemi, I'm not a routine writer. I'd like to be, but it's never worked out. I'm also fascinated by how authors write. I recently read Capote, and the most interesting sections in the book were those about Capote's writing habits.

  4. Funny I'm like you. Caffeine, baby to school, write, pick baby up, lunch, write, dinner, telly.
    Great minds think alike.

    Oh, and yes, I agree 100% about scones and clotted cream. I had them once a very long time ago, made by a very dear, very old English lady. I've never forgotten the cream. Delicious.

  5. I do my best work at night, right before I go to bed. So even though I'm exhausted the next day, when the words are flowing it's worth it to stay up until 2:00/2:30 in the morning. I work in the evening so it's not like I need to be up for anything the next day. But I populate my days with so much to get done... really, I write when I can and while I can. I get pretty giddy when I actually accomplish something in spite of it all. ;o)

  6. Thank you all for your great comments! I do love seeing how other writers do it - it's such an isolated activity that I enjoy the glimpses into others' heads!

    Christine, chocolate never fails as an inspiration-starter, for sure (and coffee, of course).

    I really wish I was a late-at-night type writer but sadly I peak in the morning and it's all downhill from there!

    Thanks again, everyone!

  7. My writing lately tends to be in frantic bursts when I'm in the middle of something else.

    If I have an idea or a scene or dialogue in my head I'll write it on my hand or a napkin or a scrap of paper and file it until I can do something with it.

    This is a bad time of the year for me, that long stretch between now and the end of the year where the kids in classrooms just make life really difficult. So I'm tired and worn out and writing just really isn't happening right now.

  8. I'm usually up by 4am at the latest, and my best writing time is as soon as I get up until I take my youngest to the bus stop at 8:30am. After that I rarely get back to writing, and if I do, I have a hard time getting back in the mindset. I don't know if it's all the coffee or just a habit I've gotten into, but those early morning hours are definitely when I do my best writing.

  9. Oh I love finding out how others do it!

    My life is somewhat complicated at the moment which means I have little or no time to write (I'm actually mid final edit) but I'm hoping that I'll be back into a routine within a couple of months. Mine is very similar to yours indeed, including the telly bit!

  10. I don't have time to write at the moment as I am working full time and studying part time so homework (and exhaustion) gets in the way. I used to get up at 5am to write before I had to get the boys up and us all out of the house for school and work. I also used to write on weekends during the afternoon. My course is over in June and I'm already very preoccupied with thoughts of what to write next in one of my novels in progress. I love watching a bit of TV too, I call it unpaid research :)

  11. Hey, are we fellow Londoners? I used to love that feature in Time Out too.

    I prefer to write early in the morning - and not to turn my router on for an horu or so so that the first thing I load in my head is my WIP. If I let myself look at emails or Twitter or blogs first, I never get that focus.

  12. Hello DirtyWhiteCandy!

    Happy first blog anniversary to you - I just checked out your blog! (Great name, btw; I wish had cool story to share behind my name but it's obviously nothing too exciting or orginal!).

    Yes, we are fellow Londoners. I love London!


Coffee and wine for all!