I was listening to Elizabeth Gilbert talk on nurturing creativity on Ted.com; I could not help but ask myself if it is important to have a specific time for writing daily. She said she gets up at the same time everyday to write. Furthermore, Jurgen Wolff in his “ten top tips for new writers” also advised writers to schedule a specific time to write. He stated that if writing is not scheduled, it will not happen. I decided to check a few writers’ writing routines.

John Grisham is at his desk by 5:30pm five times a week

Alaa Al Aswany writes from 6:30am to 10:30am six days a week.

Anthony Trollope who wrote 49 novels in 35 years wrote everyday from 5am to 8am.

Franz Kafka wrote in the nights from 11pm until 1 or 2am.

Stephen King sits between 8 and 8:30am in the same chair with his papers arranged on his table the same way. He said the specific regimen provides a signal to his mind preparing him for work. He writes 30 pages everyday!

It is apparent that successful writers had specific times they wrote daily or minimum five times a day. And quite a number of them had day jobs. They learnt to find out what time worked for them and disciplined themselves to stick to it. There are others that write when they are inspired and do not have specific time.

I believe your set goals can determine how and when you write. However, I think aspiring writers with day jobs should schedule writing or writing related activities daily.

Also as a new writer, becoming an excellent writer requires putting in a lot of time. Psychologists say we need 10,000 hours to master anything. So if you want to master writing sooner, then writing daily is required. Writing at a specific time daily programs your mind to it and minimizes writer’s block.

There is a general belief based on an early study that one requires 21 days to form a habit. I wonder if the habit of writing daily can be formed in 21 days. Simple habits may be formed in 21 days; but you will agree with me that writing is not a simple habit to form. It requires discipline and tenacity. Having a specific time indicates a measurable level of discipline and writing demands discipline. Where there is no specific regimen, passion for writing can keep it going but increased productivity and excellence may require discipline. It may take a minimum of two months to form a habit of writing daily at a specific time if you choose to do so. Our days can be laden with distractions but a daily focused regimen will ensure productivity.

Toni Morrison believes rituals promote creativity while Haruki Murakami said his routine provided the physical and mental strength required to write a novel.

It may seem impossible or unattainable for some writers with day jobs and families but you can certainly find a way round it if you set your mind on it. Anthony Trollope had to pay a servant 5 pounds extra a year (in the 19th Century) to wake him up daily with a cup of coffee.

If you have a day job, then you need to deliberately schedule your writing or it will never get done. For some people, writing everyday may help inspiration happen more often and make writing easier.

I intend to make a go at writing at a specific time daily. How about you?

How do you prefer to write? Do you have a routine? Do you write at the same time daily or when you are inspired? Post a comment and share what works for you.



Image by Ilya Labanov @ dreamstime

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