Posts tagged ‘writing routine’

September 9, 2013

Writing Routines of Successful Writers

On Friday I shared the 3 Commandments of Writing after reading an excellent compilation of 12 famous writers’ routines. I find those lists extremely valuable, so I wanted to spend a little more time on them today. Below are some of the excerpts I find most poignant as a screenwriter:

E.B. White

A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.

Haruki Murakami

When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine p.m.

I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.

But to hold to such repetition for so long — six months to a year — requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.

Ernest Hemingway

You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again… When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.

read more »

Advertisements
September 6, 2013

The 3 Commandments of Writing

5304492399_805a329467_nJames Clear has put together a variety of interviews from famous fiction writers on their daily writing routines. While I don’t think any of these writers are screenwriters, what they have to say lines up perfectly with everything that I have learned about screenwriting.

Of course, everyone writes a bit differently, and you have to find what works for you. But there are a few truisms present throughout James’ list that I have seen repeated over and over again in articles and books, and from those truisms I have created a list of writing commandments.

I have trouble taking this list to heart in my own writing, but I truly believe that no one can succeed as a writer until they follow each of these screenwriting commandments:

1. Write regularly.

Many writers say that you must write every single day (though I think some of these same people technically mean five days a week), and while I think that is an amazing goal to strive toward, it is also a setup for failure. When I miss a day of writing, I feel shitty, and that discourages me from writing the next day.

I think the more prudent advice is to set a schedule for yourself and write as often and as much as you can. Maybe with your busy work life, that means you commit to writing at least 3 days a week, and it doesn’t matter which days those are. Maybe with your more easy going student existence, you can commit to writing every afternoon for at least two hours. Personally, with my flexible freelance schedule, I’m going to commit to writing for at least three hours every weekday morning. (Hold me to it.)

read more »

March 20, 2013

The Writing Routines of Famous Authors

This post on Brain Pickings shares the writing habits of a number of famous authors. Trends that carry through include personal rules for times of day and locations for writing as well as a strict adherence (with occasional opportunities to bend the rules) to regular routines. Here is a quote from Ernest Hemingway on his method (from A Moveable Feast), which I have found quite helpful in my own writing (italics are my own):

When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.

Read the habits of other famous authors here.