Mile 5: When to Write

There are as many schools of thought regarding when the best time to write is as there are writers, or hours in the day. It would be easy to make this the shortest entry of all the Trail Notes…

Write when it’s right for you!

And in many ways, that is the best advice I can give you. We’re all different in the way we approach our projects. One of my assumptions is that writing is not the full-time occupation of those reading this. That most, if not all, of us have jobs, families, etc., that take up a huge part of our days. That means we need to carve writing time out of an already full schedule. If I may be so bold, I would suggest that blocks of time, with an hour being a minimum, are a good goal. Anything less than an hour and you’ll spend most of your allotted time just getting back on track and then “poof” you’re done.

I’ll share my process, which has been modified over time, but works very well for me. Some, all or none of it may work for you, but it gives you a starting point. I make it a goal to put at least two hours a day into my writing. Most of the time, that’s in the early morning, ideally from 4-6. I really try not to skip a day. However, only about five days a week are actually spent writing. The other days might be spent researching, reviewing or maybe doing some light editing. I’m still moving the project forward and feeling a sense of accomplishment, but perhaps not actually putting words on paper (or screen).

Others, of course, might work better late in the evening, after the day is done. I have friends who use their lunch hours to write, or only write on weekends when they can carve out larger blocks of time, the weekdays being too full, or too hectic. I have one friend who travels quite a bit for work and wrote an entire novel writing ONLY while he was flying. Some of my friends do their best thinking while driving and dictate into their phones — a word of caution here about driving safely!

The key is to find what works best for you. Hemingway wrote every day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Not 8:45 or 9:15, but 9. And not until 1:30 or 2:30, but until 2. That worked for him. Try some different approaches and find the one that works best for you and fits into your professional and personal life, and then make an effort to establish — and stick to — a pattern. Your writing will benefit from the commitment.

I wish you good writing, and if you have a question, or something you’d like to share, send me an email at [email protected].

Thank you, enjoy and keep writing!

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