Tuesday 27 September 2022

Writing Habits by Claire Fayers

 Hi all,

What do you do when you're between books?

I'm back from a very restful kiting holiday. For the first time since I don't know when, I left my laptop at home and just took a notebook in case I wanted to write anything. I didn't open it once. 

I did, as always, do a lot of reading. I found this book particularly good.

I don't usually get on well with books that promise to change you life but this one is very practical. It starts with the premise that instead of setting arbitrary goals, it's better to focus on our daily processes. He has a point. Goals are fixed term things. I set a goal to write a book, I finish the book, and then it's very easy to drift and do nothing.

I'm determined not to let that happen this time.

The first exercise in Atomic Habits is to make a list of your current habits. I jumped into this enthusiastically when I got back from holiday and I soon found a problem: I didn't have any sort of routine. Unless you call jumping randomly from task to task a routine. 

The 'no routine' routine works when I'm deep in writing or editing. Then I focus on the writing to the exclusion of everything else. But between books, when I don't have any story demanding to be written, I find myself pulled between various demands on my time, and writing all but disappears.

That was when I discovered The Writers' Hour.  A zoom writing sprint from 8am-9am in different time zones. 

There are many zoom writing sprints, but this one seems to suit me. On the first day I woke with a migraine but logged in anyway and managed 500 words before I went back to bed. Day two, the headache was gone and I rewrote half a chapter. By day three, I was looking forward to getting out of bed to write.

Following the Atomic Habits advice, I decided on some specific new habits. Before I go to bed, I will set my laptop up in the spare bedroom and put my reading glasses on the desk ready. In the morning, I will make a pot of tea then go upstairs where my laptop is waiting. 

The hour of focussed writing sets my mind into writing mode so when I come back downstairs to my main desk, it's easy to carry on.

It's working so far. A new draft is tentatively underway. I'll let you know how it goes.

Claire Fayers latest book: Welsh Fairy Tales, Myths and Legends is out now. www.clairefayers.com


Nick Garlick said...

Nice post. I'm never actually between books. Can never shut down thinking about one or the other. And I don't think that's a particularly good thing. Might be a good idea to find a way to break the habit.

So thanks for this.

Claire Fayers said...

Thanks! I'd like to have more than one thing on the go but I get stuck so deeply into a story when I'm writing that I find it hard to think of anything else. Maybe I should think about changing that.