Are you more productive in the morning? Or do you find writing late at night to be the best? Do you like to work in a busy coffee shop with lots of buzzing around you or do you need complete solitude? We all have different routines when working and sometimes it takes a while to find what works best for us.
At this stage in my life (at the ripe old age of 45.999999 . . . 😉 I find I’m more productive in the mornings. Especially at this time of year. It’s so much easier to get up early and get stuff done while it’s still quiet, and yet, the sun and light are out as well, keeping me company, so I feel energized. I get lots of work done in the mornings now. And generally do errands and other stuff in the early afternoon then more work in the late afternoon and early evening.
I used to be a night owl. I would stay up all night and work until the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes I still do that – rarely – but I find it really affects me and it takes me a day or two to bounce back and get into my regular routine.
Speaking of routines – I recently read this awesome book called The Power of Habit by Charles Duhiig. In his book, Duhigg explains why habits exist and how they can be changed (for the better). It’s not a self-help book – he explores scientific research and cites examples of routines from corporate America to elite athletes – but it will help you. So what does The Power of Habit have to do with our writing routines? So much! When I veer off my daily work routine, I don’t feel right. I don’t feel productive and I don’t feel “good inside”. Sticking to a positive work routine or any kind of routine or regimen keeps us focused and goal oriented. That’s important, because as writers, we constantly work on deadlines. Some of us need to have a cup of coffee in the morning or go for a walk after breakfast, or listen to some music. If it works to keep us productive and positive then it’s a good thing.
Joan Didion: I need an hour alone before dinner, with a drink, to go over what I’ve done that day. I can’t do it late in the afternoon because I’m too close to it. Also, the drink helps. It removes me from the pages. So I spend this hour taking things out and putting other things in. Then I start the next day by redoing all of what I did the day before, following these evening notes. When I’m really working I don’t like to go out or have anybody to dinner, because then I lose the hour. If I don’t have the hour, and start the next day with just some bad pages and nowhere to go, I’m in low spirits. Another thing I need to do, when I’m near the end of the book, is sleep in the same room with it. That’s one reason I go home to Sacramento to finish things. Somehow the book doesn’t leave you when you’re asleep right next to it. In Sacramento nobody cares if I appear or not. I can just get up and start typing.
Jack Kerouac: The desk in the room, near the bed, with a good light, midnight till dawn, a drink when you get tired, preferably at home, but if you have no home, make a home out of your hotel room or motel room or pad: peace.
Simone de Beauvoir: I’m always in a hurry to get going, though in general I dislike starting the day. I first have tea and then, at about ten o’clock, I get under way and work until one. Then I see my friends and after that, at five o’clock, I go back to work and continue until nine. I have no difficulty in picking up the thread in the afternoon. When you leave, I’ll read the paper or perhaps go shopping. Most often it’s a pleasure to work.
Don DeLillo: I work in the morning at a manual typewriter. I do about four hours and then go running. This helps me shake off one world and enter another. Trees, birds, drizzle — it’s a nice kind of interlude. Then I work again, later afternoon, for two or three hours. Back into book time, which is transparent — you don’t know it’s passing. No snack food or coffee. No cigarettes — I stopped smoking a long time ago. The space is clear, the house is quiet. A writer takes earnest measures to secure his solitude and then finds endless ways to squander it. Looking out the window, reading random entries in the dictionary. To break the spell I look at a photograph of Borges, a great picture sent to me by the Irish writer Colm Tóín. The face of Borges against a dark background — Borges fierce, blind, his nostrils gaping, his skin stretched taut, his mouth amazingly vivid; his mouth looks painted; he’s like a shaman painted for visions, and the whole face has a kind of steely rapture. I’ve read Borges of course, although not nearly all of it, and I don’t know anything about the way he worked — but the photograph shows us a writer who did not waste time at the window or anywhere else. So I’ve tried to make him my guide out of lethargy and drift, into the otherworld of magic, art, and divination.
Ernest Hemingway: 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.
So what kind of work routines or habits do you have to get things done?
Have a productive day!
We’ve got plenty of productive authors here at Lachesis Publishing.
Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing Inc. She loves Cinnamon Dolce Lattes, being productive, and sticking to her daily routine.