Writing routines before and during the pandemic

Photo by Viktoria Alipatova on Pexels.com

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away before the pandemic I did so much writing in coffee shops. It’s a luxury I miss. Often a friend and I would meet after work and chit chat and then write for several hours. It has been a lifeline during PNW winters of grey, rain, more grey, and more rain. Until of course this winter.

Background noise helps me focus. So at home, to mimic a coffee shop and to induce my brain into getting into that “flow” state quickly, I put on one of those “Monday Coffee Jazz” YouTube channels with a mug of coffee on the cover. I am partial to anything bossa nova. Bonus points for having an aesthetically pleasing cover of black coffee with some tasty treat on the side. If the cover has saltines as the tasty treat or a mug of coffee with CAPPUCCINO written on the mug my snobby foodie side finds another channel.

Writing must be accompanied by a tasty warm beverage. My go-tos are tea or Cola Cao–my beloved childhood hot chocolate mix from Spain.

I wish I was able to sit down and write for six hours a day straight with a break for lunch. But at this point I’ve learned that I write best in short spurts. 45 mins to an hour at a time. Then I can take a break and do something else. Like go for a walk or do the dishes or run an errand. And then I can write for another hour. Rinse, repeat.

If I write in the morning — which is when I write the best — I can knock out 1000-1500 words in a hour. I’m on a roll with the shitty first draft of this second book, and much of it is dialogue at this point, which is my favorite thing to write, so it’s coming out fast.

If I write in the afternoon it’s like putting a sloth in front of a computer. I’m lucky if I get two sentences down. And there’s lots and lots of spacing out the window and staring at the squirrel highway in front of my living room. When I was working on the graphic memoir this was when I would do all the easy, mostly mindless stuff — inking and coloring.

I get a second wind in the evening, after dinner, after showering. In the realm of 6-8pm, because I work baker’s hours and aim to be asleep at 9pm. If I get that second wind, and force myself to sit my butt down in front of the computer, I can sometimes get 500 words out. I give myself a victorious pat on the back and then go to bed.

Most of the writing gets done on the weekends when I have the mornings all to myself. Since it’s damn near impossible for me to sleep past 5 or 530 now, I relish having hours before the sun comes up, before the neighborhood wakes up, before my phone starts blasting texts. Plus in the dark I don’t get distracted by the cute dogs outside or depressing PNW grey skies.

I value my morning writing time more than any other time of the week. Except maybe sleep. It’s a toss up. I love hearing about other people’s writing routines. What’s yours?