Monday, July 17, 2017

My Daily Writing Life by Betsy Ashton

We all get the same questions. What is your daily routine? Do you write every day? How do you budget your time? Do you like promotional activities? Wouldn't you rather just write and not do anything else?

In order, my daily routine. I rise relatively early and am at my desk by eight. I put in three or more hours writing or editing, depending on where I am in my book journey. Right now, I'm in the death throes of editing my serial killer novel, which I plan to have out in early fall. I have a big fall festival in mid October...

I work in relative silence, meaning no music or television when I'm editing. Unless it's golf or tennis. I can edit to either sport and only glance up occasionally.  I clear my desk to edit the old-fashioned way. Pen and paper. I can't edit electronically, even when I use Narrator and listen to my book read back to me. Keying my changes is an additional "edit" because I focus on each word. If the word/sentence/paragraph/chapter does not move the story forward, it goes into the parking lot, never to be seen again in the book.

When I'm writing, I can have music on in the background. If music plays an essential role in setting the tone, I note what I'm listening to so that I can go back and recapture the mood during the editing process. When I write a new piece, I push as many words onto the page as possible. I have to get it all out, even the backstory that will never see print. I have to know what my main characters carry in their pockets or purses.

I'm a 10-15 draft editor. Not the entire manuscript, but I rework many sections until I think I have it right. Only, sometimes, to be reminded by readers that I'm still not perfect, but they'll give me a hall pass.

During the final edits, I fact-check, sleep with the thesaurus, and am never move than two inches away from Chicago Manual of Style.

When I need a break, I take fifteen minutes to play on social media. I look at kitty videos, add pictures to Pinterest, transfer a pic or two from cell to Instagram, and throw out snarky comments on Facebook and Twitter. Fifteen minutes could turn into hours if not for the hour glass I keep in the bookshelf next to my desk.

Afternoons are set aside for walking to clear my head, short naps or yoga to refresh body and soul, and setting up and executing promotional campaigns.

I do not work after six in the evening. I don't go on Facebook et al after I leave my desk. My cell is nearby for emergencies, not for playing games or watching more kitty videos. I read at night.

My goodness, that's a boring daily routine, but it works for me. I fancy myself a professional writer and must keep to a regimen or I'll slip back into casual, hobby writer. Can't, because I always see to have a deadline looming, though.

I'm going to skip the promotional question for now. That warrants another post later this month.

Lastly, would I rather write and not have to worry about promoting my books. Who wouldn't? But until I'm as big as Diane Fanning, Patricia Cornwell, or David Baldacci, I'll work every afternoon to promote my books and generate interest. I hope.

9 comments:

Diane Burton said...

Good routine, Betsy. It sounds like you've found what works for you. I work best in the morning, but I'm not near as disciplined as you. As you can see from the time, I'm reading instead of writing. LOL

Jannine Gallant said...

I try to do my daily group promo stuff (here and with other groups) first thing in the morning. My writing is sporadic throughout the day interspersed with Internet time, dog walks, actual paycheck work duties when I'm at the boat ramp, laundry, etc. etc. I don't have a dedicated time for writing. I just do it as much and often as I can. But I'm easily distracted by people. I write much more productively alone.

Vonnie Davis said...

We all have a schedule that works for us. Some of us are rigid, some flexible. I do my promo first thing. Then I write. Edit what I just wrote. Write. I wish I could pour it all out and edit later, but I just can't. I think I'm afraid I'll forget or something. In the evening, I critique other author's work while I watch TV and do more promo.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Mornings for me, too. I try to write a scene a sitting after I've edited the previous day's output. I like to throw out an idea for the next day's writing...quicker liftoff for the next day.

Andrea Downing said...

Interesting as always to read how other authors wrk. We're all so different. I wouldn't be able to limit myself to a 15 minute break of social media--that's the problem for me.

Brenda Whiteside said...

I do enjoy hearing others' routines. I'm more routine in the winter when FDW is out of the house more. Summers are just too hectic with distractions. I write everyday but not in a routine manner in the summer months. Thanks for the insight.

Margo Hoornstra said...

I'm like Brenda. Most of my productive writing time happens when RLH is otherwise occupied. Like Jannine, I sometimes have a paycheck job that essentially 'pays' me to write. I wish I were more streamlined and regulated, but i'm not. You routine is obviously productive, Betsy. Stay with it.

Leah St. James said...

Sounds like you have a perfect routine for you, Betsy. I'm a morning writer, but I only have a bit of time before heading off to the "paycheck job," and once my day there is done, I'm mentally shot. I generally get distracted by music but I think I'm going to try incorporating some to see how it goes. Maybe instrumentals, no vocals, so I'm not tempted to sing along. :-) Thanks for sharing your process!

Alicia Dean said...

That's an excellent routine! I wish my schedule and my self discipline allowed me to have a routine similar to yours. :) My focus right now is to try to do 3 20 minute sprints per day. That's it. But, every day. So far, not going well, LOL