Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Finding a Writing Routine

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Most of the time it feels like there are never enough hours in a day, and that feeling is amplified when we try to find the time to write. Figuring out a writing routine can take a while, especially if your schedule has changed, if you're working around a day job, or even if you are a full-time writer. But writers write, and there are some ways to make sure you do.

Selling my first novel in the June before my fourth year of university meant I had to carve out time to work on my edits while still going to class and doing schoolwork. Thankfully, I had Mondays and Fridays off my first term of fourth year, and so I could use those days to write/edit. Using school breaks (winter holidays, February reading week, and of course the long four month summers) to write a new draft of whatever story I was in the middle of worked the best for me. Now that I'm in grad school, it's the same -- I've had the past few weeks off, and I've used the time to work on a draft of a book.

Here are some things that have helped me get into a creative routine.

1.) Realizing that some days are more productive than others or just productive in different ways. This point has a lot to do with whether you outline before you write or fly by the seat of your pants. I do a bit of both -- when writing something new, I don't plan and just like to see where the story goes. But if I'm reworking a draft, I always outline. So some days are writing days, some are outlining days, and some are a combination of both.

2.) Pick a time of day to write and keep at it. Do you write best first thing in the morning, in the afternoon, or at night? These all depend on your schedule, of course, but even writing for an hour at night after work will make you feel like you're getting something done. There's a book called The Van Gogh Blues which describes the depression all creative people (including writers) can fall into if they don't spend time doing their creative work. This is definitely true for me -- I feel so much better when I've gotten some writing done.

3.) When you have limited time, you can be more productive. Somehow just knowing that you only have an hour or so to do something makes you do it. A lot of people work better when they have a deadline. Sometimes too much time can make you procrastinate.

4.)Know you can always cut or fix it later. This is a big part of writer's block -- fear of the blank page, or fear that what you write won't be good enough. But you can always delete something later. You can't do that if you have nothing written at all. When I was younger I used to think you weren't allowed to edit -- that when you write a story, that was it, and it could never be changed. Thankfully that's not actually the case!

5.)Remember to have fun! There's a Stephen King quote I love from his brilliant non-fiction book On Writing -- "I have written because it fulfilled me. I did it for the buzz. I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever."

Have a great weekend!

2 comments

Great quote!: )

"Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow." – Mark Twain (I'm going to assume he meant the things that interfere with writing, rather than writing itself) :)
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The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Aya Tsintziras

Aya Tsintziras is the author of the YA novel Pretty Bones, which was selected for the Canadian Book Centre's Best Books for Kids and Teens in Spring 2012. She has a BA in Political Science from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing a Masters of Journalism at Ryerson University.

Go to Aya Tsintziras’s Author Page